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What standards should I use to compare integration tools?

A SearchSAP.com reader is considering SAP XI vs. Microsoft BTS. Expert Axel Angeli weighs in with some decision criteria suggestions.

What are the various factors that can be used for comparing integration tools?

Currently we are evaluating between SAP XI(SAP PI) & microsoft BTS 2006. The hub of the landscape is a mainframe application that is being expected to be replaced with SAP Shop. As a mainframe is used, files are prevalantly used in integration. The source system sends flatfile & target system parses the file.

What are your recommendations?

It is always difficult to give a general recommendation for middleware use. The decision may vary depending on the nature of the satellite applications. If you plan to continue using files, probably any middleware will do. 

If you ask for a recommendation one should look at the following items:

  • Put a message queue in place.
    It is the only way to guarantee stable operation of complex communication and it also reduces monitoring efforts dramatically. If you ran XI on a Windows box, you could make use of the MSMQ preinstalled with Windows, BIZTALK will use it anyway. 
  • Measure the time and effort it takes to change scenarios and interface mappings multiple times.
    This will be the killer criterion eventually. Interfaces are living objects; they tend to change and normally there specs are rather fuzzy. The features of middleware do not differ much between different offers, but their handling is widely different, so a quick and powerful graphical mapping editor and visual workflow ("Business Process") monitor tool are worth gold.

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