If you know me at all, you know I love services-based integration. The whole idea of interfacing, moving and exchanging data, guided by industry standards...I'm an enthusiastic supporter. The appeal of this idea made me an ardent supporter of Oracle's Fusion Applications. And I still believe it's an important part of the potential for today's SaaS offerings.
So I'll share a secret with you...I really hate services-based integration. It's hard. Packaged integrations rarely work out of the box. SaaS integrations are tough to implement. Integration platforms are still in their infancy. Data errors are frequent problems. Documentation is either inaccurate or non-existent. Building your own - oy! Even simple integrations require large investments of blood, sweat, and tears. And orchestrating service integrations into a business process...agony on a stick. I personally believe that the toughest aspect of enterprise software is services integration. SaaS, hybrid, on-premise, packaged applications, middleware...it does not matter, services integration is hard regardless of context.
I see SaaS integration as "hero ground": there is nowhere to go but up, and even simple wins will create heroes. Service integrations that really work, simple and easily understood documentation, design patterns, data templates and useable tools... I think we have a ton of work to do. Because, even though it shouldn't be, integration is hard.