this plant, and Oracle Applications for this plant. It’s a pretty typical sce- nario for many organizations.” Sedgewick  pauses,  exchanging  the  blue  marker  for  a  red  marker.  He draws red lines from each of the blue plant boxes, connecting them to the headquarters  box.  “Now,”  Sedgewick  continues,  assuming  the  instruc- tional  tone  of  a  college  professor,  “updating  the  headquarters  inventory management portal can take place in a number of ways. For example, there could be a real-time connection from the portal application, over our inter- nal network, tapping directly into each ERP system. Beyond that, we could add  logic  to  push  information  from  the  ERP  systems,  only  processing updates if there has been a change, versus pulling all the inventory infor- mation  and  updating  the  portal  application  regardless  of  whether  it  has changed or not.” “Solving  this  problem  with  EAI  software  is  pretty  typical,  and  it works.  The  only  problem  is  that  these  point-to-point  interfaces  can  be cumbersome to maintain, and EAI software can be expensive to purchase, install, and maintain.” Dunston’s face wrinkles as the word “expensive” enters the conversa- tion, but he doesn’t say anything. Sedgewick, noting the change of expres- sion, quickly responds. “That’s why Web services are such an exciting and timely technology, Bob.” “Theoretically, Web services can eliminate the integration problem that we would use EAI software for, and it’s ideally suited to loosely coupled interfaces between applications or business processes, much like the inven- tory portal problem we are discussing.” Sedgwick walks to the whiteboard again. “You see, these red lines represent the connections we would build using the EAI software, and these processes would remain in place to pull inventory data from the targeted ERP systems on a periodic basis, either polling  them  or  being  updated  as  inventory  information  changes.  EAI implementations are fine, but they have some limitations. There are plat- form and version issues to contend with, such as HP’s Unix, IBM’s Unix, and  Sun’s  Unix  versus  Microsoft  Windows  NT,  all  versus  Linux—the OpenSource version of Unix. Then, you have the application software itself and the task of making sure that the versions of software are the same, or at least can be accessed using the same EAI software and adapters. And, in many cases, the ERP software has been customized such that it really isn’t the standard functionality the vendor originally offered. Web services offer a  better  way  to  make  applications  interoperate  using  Internet  protocols and emerging Web services standards.” Exchanging the red marker for a green one, Sedgewick draws small green boxes inside each of the blue boxes on the board. “Now, with a Web services approach to this problem, we would build small, modular applications that perform simple computing tasks—for example, retrieving inventory updates A Day in the Life of a CIO 5 74188_WY_Marks_01  2/5/2003  4:08 PM  Page 5