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What is the future of ALE/EDI and IDocs, in light of XI?

Wondering about the future of ALE, IDoc and EDI in light of the new technology of XI? Axel Angeli offers his view.

My question is, what will be the future of ALE/EDI and IDoc with the new XI technology? Do you think that these old technologies will die away?

Also, what will be the market for XI in the future?

ALE and IDoc are part of the current XI strategy. XI is a middleware software that orchestrates the data flow (workflow) of data between heterogeneous systems. XI makes heavy use of IDocs as well. Let me explain it another way:

There are two ways to communicate with an SAP installation -- synchronously and asynchronously. The synchronous technology uses RFC calls into the system, and the asynchronous one sends IDocs to R/3. When you do an RFC call, you will immediately receive the result of the transaction, but you will also have to cope with the result. If the transaction failed, the calling system (may it be XI) will have to deal with it. With IDocs you have a simple message queue that stores every received document, along with the processing state, and lets you reprocess the received document from within R/3 when there is a failure.

There is a lot of current hype surrounding XI. A lot of companies are experimenting with XI to be prepared when and if XI becomes a major player in the middleware market. For consultants the market is hot just now, but it will certainly flatten as soon the customers have seen how it works. So if you plan to become an XI consultant, then become one right away -- the demand is here today.

This was last published in November 2005

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