Costly at Many Levels
Make no mistake: EAI systems are expensive. Top-end EAI covers a lotof turfa stack of functions from basic messaging up through businessprocess management. On top of this central engine, EAI customers buy"adapters" to connect to their applications (such as an SAP or Siebeladapter) and custom adapters for idiosyncratic legacyapplications.
There's more to the total cost than just the software. EAI projectscarry three red flags: consulting costs, maintenance costs and datadefinition problems that can drive up the first two costs. Those areclassic IT project expenditures, but they're worth flagging with EAIbecause early vendor marketing efforts suggested the idea that EAIstuff is off-the-shelf, once-and-done, plug-and-play. Not so, saypractitioners.
First of all, doing a high-end EAI implementation without consultantsis inadvisable if not impossible. "It's terribly expensive to use [BigFive consultants], but the only thing more expensive is not usingthem," says Dennis Benner, executive vice president of AutoByTel.com.Benner began digging into EAI three or four years ago as CIO ofconstruction and energy company Fluor Corp., where he had nearly 80systems he needed to connect to the central ERP software. ("To saythat was a challenge is to suggest that WWII was 'inconvenient," hesays.) The complexity of the software and the high-end integrationprojects for which it's used mean consultants are anecessity.