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on January 7, 2001
This book presents a smorgasbord of technologies applicable to the B2B domain. These technologies are described very clearly and at the right level for system architects.
The structure of this book is similar to Linthicum's previous book on EAI. Also much of the content overlaps with that book, with new chapters on typical B2B Application Integration standards as XML, BizTalk, RosettaNet. This is both a strength and a weakness I suppose. A strength because a lot of typical EAI technologies also apply to B2B. A weakness because the book is something in between a second edition of a previous book and a really new book.
I was missing a chapter about EDI. EDI is historically one of the most important B2B technologies and by far not dead yet. Despite its shortcomings there are still EDI implementations going on (often as part of ERP implementations, ask the system integrators such as AtosOrigin).
This book also pays minimal attention to front-end B2B technologies with only one chapter about portals with a tiny paragraph about digital exhanges. I would rather have read more about e-marketplaces, and integrations via Ariba/CommerceOne. Also I would like to read more about other front-end and Web technologies as CGI, JSP and servlets, ASP / ISAPI / IIS, control brokers + implications of front-end integrations on back end integrations.
Two of the appendixes deal with integrations with COTS software: the ERP packages SAP and PeopleSoft. It would have been nice if there were also appendices on integrations with the other important ERP packages as Baan, Oracle and JDEdwards, a CRM vendor as Siebel, and SCM vendors as i2 and Manugistics.
The structure of this book is very technology oriented and many technologies are presented very well. However, now you have to consult your customer on which technology to choose, and which EAI/B2B vendor to select. Why do I choose for a portal, or RPC and distributed objects and not for a message broker? And if I choose a message broker, how do I select the right product from the right vendor? How do I formulate my requirements and selection criteria? The book is not very clear on these topics, and it would have been nice if there were chapters on a)relation between business strategy and B2B technology b)selection of B2B technologies and products.
Overall, a good and readable book, but there is always information you want to read that is not covered in this book.
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on December 20, 2000
As the other reviewer stated, this book is really the second edition of the EAI book by the same author. However, there is enough new content in this book, focused on B2B, that make it well worth the price. For instance, how XML, XSLT and BizTalk function in the world of application integration. Also, which technology to leverage depending on the situation. I found the way the author links EAI and B2B application integration approaches and technology particularly useful, and cleared up a lot of issues for me. I would recommend this book to anyone working on EAI or B2B projects, like me. If you already own the EAI book, this book should be next on your list to read.
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This book provides a pragmatic approach to B2B integration by focusing on integrating existing systems instead of addressing a "clean slate" approach to the task.
Part I consists of a single chapter that defines B2B application integration, and how to leverage your existing assets and make a sound business case to bring this about. It also provides a quick overview of the key role middleware plays and emphasizes the fact that a truly integrated suite of applications needs to have a built-in mechanism for synchronizing and responding to business events. This is a key point to the approach and differentiates integrated applications from a collection of systems that have been kludged together to communicate with one another.
Chapter 1 also gives a classification of five different approaches to application integration. This is followed in Part II with a chapter about each approach. The value here is twofold: (1) the approaches can be viewed as design patterns (with some effort because each approach is presented in a slightly different way), and (2) techniques such as SEI's architecture trade-off analysis method (ATAM) can be applied from a technical perspective to select the best approach for a specific environment. Part III is devoted to the technology that an architect will have at his or her disposal to apply to the integration. Starting with an introduction to middleware in chapter 7, this part of the book ends at chapter 13 after thoroughly covering the strengths and weaknesses of each middleware model and associated components. What impressed me the most about this part of the book is the matter-of-fact, unbiased discussion. The author used products for examples, but did not favor any particular one, which is a refreshing change from some books on the topic that read like vendor literature.
Integration standards are covered in Part IV, with the same unbiased approach used in the preceding part, and with the same frank discussions of strengths and weaknesses. Key standards (both De Facto and De Jure) are covered, including XML, RosettaNet's methods, BizTalk and XSLT. The part of the book also devotes a chapter to understanding supply chain integration and ends with a final chapter titled B2B Application Integration Moving Forward. This final chapter is packed with advice and things to consider, such as moving from EDI to XML, discussions on security, performance and stability, etc.
Mr. Linthicum has done a thorough job of covering the complex issues associated with transforming existing systems into an integrated suite of applications that will support B2B. I like the way he has structured the book, which allows an architect to derive design patterns as well as perform formal trade-off analysis at the technical level for both the architecture and the building blocks with which to build the architecture - or rather, to transform an existing architecture into one that fully supports B2B. This book should be on the desk of every system architect and gets a solid five stars.
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on April 4, 2001
You recognize all the benefits of supply chain integration, the virtual enterprise, distributed applications .... but how? It was difficult enough when all you had to think about was your own company, and could mandate an architectural policy (or could you?), but you can't do that with your suppliers and other partners. And while the Internet makes sending email easy, does XML really provide an easy way of connecting one application with another. Or should you use distributed objects? Or expose the database schema? Over the last several years I've lost count of the times that some author has claimed THE ANSWER. The truth is that there is no universally correct answer. Each technique has its place - and its limitations.
This book is an excellent guide to this minefield of competing ideas. The book covers a wide variety of concepts and techniques, putting them in context, and comparing their advantages and disadvantages. Excellent material if you are trying to decide among competing claims from software vendors or developers.
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on December 18, 2000
This is one of the rare occassions where the otherwise usefull recommendations list "Customers who bought this, also bought..." does not work. Linthicum just did a search and replace on his previous book (Enterprise Application Integration) and replaced EAI by B2B. This book ( or its 4 relevant chapters ) should really be an addendum to his previous book.
What is missing is the application of B2B integration : why , where and when ( e-marketplaces , private marketplaces , supply chain management )
Missing concepts : change management , organisational impact , business partner adoption , security issues , comparison of vendors , characteristics of B2B integration tools , non-intrusive or standards based dilemma etc..
My advice : if you own Enterprise Application Integration , do NOT buy this book.
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on May 1, 2001
Mr. Linthicum has given us a gift in the form of a book that thoroughly covers the technical aspects of B2B, and shows how it is vastly different from more traditional methods of application integration.
If you carefully read and assimilate the information contained in this book you will have a clear path laid out for moving from older architectures that use EDI, point-to-point integration and other partial integration schemes to a true B2B architecture that is glued together by an encompassing middleware layer and driven by business events.
Here are some of the key areas of the book that made a deep impression on me: the clear definition of B2B application integration and what it entails, a wide survey of methods based on their orientation (data, interface, method, portal and process), and the balanced discussion of both middleware and integration standards.
Strengths and weaknesses of the oriented methods described in this book are particularly invaluable because the author shows the choices and trade-offs of each choice as an integration strategy. He gave the same comprehensive treatment to middleware strategies. I especially liked the discussion of integration standards because until I read this book I had the impression that XML was *the* way to extract data from databases, transform it into a common format and promote a standard for communicating among trading partners. Mr. Linthicum discusses the strengths of XML, but wisely warns against trying to make it do everything. Sort of like the adage that when all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail.
The thrust of this book is transforming existing systems into an integrated application infrastructure that will fully support the notion of awareness of business events across all applications. This is a daunting task for architects and integrators who do not have a clean slate with which to design a ground-up architecture. The author addressed the fact that we have to live with that in which we have made heavy investments and proceed from there. This is done in the appendices that show how to integrate SAP R/3 and PeopleSoft into a cohesive B2B architecture. These examples are excellent choices with which to illustrate how it's done because they are realistic examples as opposed to contrived examples of "ideal" situations that other books show.
This book is for architects and IT technical strategists, and for those of us who have technical backgrounds and need to fully understand the technologies and imperatives that are springing up around us. Mr. Linthicum is an engaging writer who packs an incredible amount of information and wisdom into this 408 page book. It easily earns 5 stars and my highest recommendation.
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on December 20, 2000
This book is a follow-up to Linthicum's book on Enterprise Application Integration (EAI), and could really have been called "volume 2". Much of it is taken directly from the other book. This is actually a good thing, assuming you haven't already read the old version. The new book updates the concepts in much the same way as the EAI vendors are updating their products. (Ironically, Linthicum's company couldn't do the same.)
Linthicum is a well known expert in the integration world, and speaks at seemingly every conference on the subject. A rare talent in techincal writing, he hits at what I feel is just the right level - the text is technical enough to actually teach you something (not "EAI for Dummies"), without going into the excessive details of the technology. This is the book you want if you really want to understand the basics and begin to form ideas for your own organization.
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on January 2, 2001
I like the level of detail provided in the book. At this point in my current design task, I don't need detailed coding examples, I need good high-level explanations of the ways my customer can interface with the outside world (and between business units). This is what this book provides. This book doesn't answer all of my questions, but it does provide all of the information I need to make some intelligent design decisions.
Many of my team members swear by Dave's previous book, Enterprise Application Integration, and we have already incorporated many of the concepts from that book into our new enterprise-wide architecture. I'm certain that in the coming months, B2B Application Integration will have just as significant an impact on our work as we expand our scope to include our external customers.
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on June 5, 2001
I'm currently using this book for a graduate level systems integration course that I teach at the University of Detroit Mercy. I couldn't be happier. While there are areas that get a bit technical for those who have not worked in IT, it provides all of the information necessary to make educated decisions about numerous B2B solutions. Coupled with the book "Building B2B Applications with XML", the reader has everything they need.
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on January 30, 2001
The good thing about this book is that it the systems architect orientation.
What I miss is the lack on an integration advice depending on the sort/ type of B2B exchanges:
-- How do we integrate in the Ariba, Commerce One (hosted) types of B2B exchange networks.
-- How can we apply B2B integration with in the not hosted BroadVision, ATG -type of approach. Including a planning & implementation that really work.
I also miss a classification of the current B2B application integration landscape in terms of vendors and tools. In Chapter 19 there is a VERY good explanation on the 5 types of B2B application integration approaches(data-oriented, application oriented, process integration oriented etc etc). I would like to have more elaboration on the mapping of these approaches on the current supporting tools & vendors...The pro's and con's of Neon, ACTA, Bea's e-Link, Mercator, Viewlocity, etc etc.
Page 342, Selecting a B2B Technology is described in a good way, but more elaboration on the vendors landscape would me nice.
Still, I really like this book. Chapter 12 (Java middleware standards, the role of J2ee) Chapter 17 (Using XSLT) are very useful. Despite the earlier reviews, I consider this book as more than Volume 2 on David's earlier book.
I would really advice all software developers and leading architects to buy this book: If you need a good and in-depth understanding of B2B integration approaches, this book should be on your desk!
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