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Explore the role and development trend of Middleware in ERP system

with the development of Internet, the new generation ERP system is not only a simple extension of the original ERP application on the web, so the application server has become a new middleware requirement of ERP system

the role of Middleware in ERP

from the perspective of functions, traditional ERP systems include financial management, sales management, product planning management, procurement inventory management, product data management (macro/micro), production operation management, human resource management, etc. From the perspective of system architecture, ERP system includes business model, data model, object model, processing module, management module, workflow module, communication module and security module

whether the oil filter is blocked, the interworking and interoperability between modules, or the construction of application components and the deployment and management of cross environment (network, database, etc.), all need the support of the basic level. One of the basic support environment requirements is middleware. Generally speaking, the middleware that ERP system should integrate currently involves message middleware such as tonglink/q and MQSeries; Transaction middleware such as tongeasy, tuxedo and MTs; The new generation ERP system will also use web application server based on EJB, CORBA or DCOM technology. Technically, middleware can provide the following benefits for ERP system:

■ reliability: it provides a solid system operating environment with strong fault recovery ability, system restart and recovery ability, reliable data transmission ability, etc

■ scalability: provide dynamic deployment capability, involving transaction mode, application configuration, object service embedding, etc

■ manageability: the system should realize effective management, including application server, operating system process and thread, database connection, network session, etc

■ data consistency: transaction integrity guarantee

■ application security: including end-user identity authentication, node connection security authentication, application security authentication, access control of management interface, data encryption/decryption function, security event alarm, etc. The Research Report of the world-famous Giga organization has made an in-depth analysis of the middleware requirements of ERP system. Giga organization believes that middleware can help ERP system in the following aspects:

■ general standard of semantics: because ERP manufacturers have their own interface APIs, and there is a lack of general standards for object attributes, categories, relationships, etc., ERP applications from different manufacturers cannot interoperate, and service objects cannot be plug and play. As an ERP, the middleware can keep the relative error of force indication unchanged through the force sensor and the corresponding electronic amplification circuit. By improving the quality of the force sensor and the corresponding electronic amplification circuit, it can greatly improve the underlying facilities of force measurement accuracy, shield the differences of ERP systems of different manufacturers in API, and provide a unified interface for the upper ERP application

■ transparency of processes: the operation interface of the service object of ERP system is usually not separated from the object entity. Different operations on the same service object must be realized on the premise of understanding the internal code of the object, and the transparency of processing operations is not enough

■ static binding between workflow and service object: workflow refers to the whole process of a business operation from the beginning to the end. Due to the change of enterprise business process, ERP system has to recompile the service object, in which a lot of work is repetitive, which increases the difficulty of ERP system implementation

■ message based application integration mechanism: when facing the requirements of enterprise application integration (EAI), the middleware can provide basic service facilities for ERP system in terms of message transmission between service objects, remote process on-demand startup management, reliable data transmission and asynchronous communication mechanism

■ object management: service object state management, distributed object processing management, etc., which is also where middleware can play a role

■ security issues: middleware can also play a certain role, such as identity authentication, application access control, data encryption, etc

Since the 1990s, many large foreign enterprises have started a new round of business process reengineering (BPR) activities and the establishment of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Today, at the end of the 1990s, Internet and Internet related technologies are booming, fundamentally changing the business model of enterprises. A new generation of ERP system came into being. The core feature of the new generation ERP system is the addition of Internet-based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and value chain management (VCM) on the original basis. From the perspective of the internal production process of the enterprise, ERP itself has not changed substantially. What is refreshing is the renewal of the external business mode of the enterprise

the so-called Customer Relationship Management (CRM) refers to the use of information widely collected from the Internet to identify and evaluate individual customers, analyze their value, and formulate strategies based on target value, so as to attract and maintain a loyal and rewarding customer base. This is a complex and arduous process that requires a lot of customization

value chain is a new business model based on Internet. The connected activities include supplier relationship, local logistics, product processing and demand side activities. The value of value chain management is to improve inventory and supply chain management, while improving risk management, so as to achieve the effective use of funds

some famous foreign manufacturers, such as Oracle, sap, PEO plesoft, Baan, JDE, I2, Siebel, etc., have launched a new generation of ERP systems in time. Some domestic manufacturers, such as UFIDA, Kingdee, Lima and Broadcom, have also appeared with Internet technology. Due to the limitations of domestic enterprises' own development, so far, ERP system has not really been popularized in China. The promotion of the emerging customer relationship management (CRM) and value chain management (VCM) system has become the next step plan of many domestic enterprises

the formal characteristics of the new generation ERP system are based on Web technology. Because it is not only a simple extension of the original ERP application on the web, web application server based on EJB, CORBA or DCOM technology has become a new middleware requirement of ERP system

web application server makes it easier to develop, deploy and manage Internet-based applications. The web application server provides the deployment of distributed applications calculated according to the current business framework on the server side; Data source connection access management, transaction management, etc; Large scale concurrent network user management, load balancing, fault tolerance, etc; And seamless connection with existing systems

web application server can represent a business process in a flexible way, transforming the business process into a framework structure containing several stages, and each stage represents the separate operation of a business object (such as an order). At each stage, one or more special components operate on the object. Another important function of web application server is that it can be integrated with standard transaction middleware, which means that the whole platform can be used as a single operation. This is very important in some situations where the integrity of the process must be maintained

it is an inevitable trend to work together

after a lot of investigation and analysis, the world-famous Standish Group believes that for infrastructure such as middleware, it is a behavior of getting half the result with half the effort to build it by application developers instead of using mature commercial products, which has been proved by facts

due to the key position of Middleware in ERP system, it is very necessary to directly use mature commercial middleware products instead of being developed by ERP system suppliers themselves

from the perspective of development workload and development costs, the statistics of Standish group show that business logic programs/application logic programs account for only 30% of the total program volume, while basic programs such as middleware account for about 70%. If mature commercial middleware is directly used, this alone can save 25% - 60% of the development cost. If the application is integrated with a new generation of object middleware products, and combined with reusable business object components, the development cost can be saved to 80%. ERP suppliers have to pay a high price to develop basic software such as middleware by themselves. The above data is also of reference value to ERP system suppliers

from the perspective of development cycle, the statistical data of Standish group shows that the use of standard commercial middleware can shorten the development cycle by 50% - 75% 2. Record the maximum load when the sample completely breaks under load. Time limit is also the natural enemy of ERP system suppliers, and the development of basic software such as middleware is a very time-consuming work. On this issue, the complexity should be left to the middleware supplier to solve

from the perspective of system maintenance, the annual cost of maintaining business logic programs/application logic programs requires 10% - 20% of the initial development cost, while the annual cost of maintaining self-developed basic software such as middleware requires about 15% - 25% of the initial development cost. This figure is not cost-effective for ERP system suppliers

from the perspective of development quality, self-developed basic software such as middleware is usually customized according to the current needs of the application system. Each time a new module is added to the application system, this kind of basic software often needs to be changed accordingly. The standard commercial middleware is clear and standardized in terms of interface. The standardized mode can effectively ensure the quality of the application system and reduce the maintenance expenses of the old and new systems

from the perspective of technological innovation, basic software such as middleware is constantly undergoing frequent technological updates, which is extremely impractical if ERP system suppliers study and grasp by themselves. If you choose standard commercial middleware, you can rest assured of the development and changes of underlying technology. Middleware manufacturers will be duty bound to grasp the technical direction and carry out technological innovation

in terms of increasing product competitiveness, different commercial middleware provides different functional models. Reasonable use can make it easier to add new forms of expression and new service items to the ERP system, and also make the ERP system more perfect and outstanding, so as to help ERP system suppliers win competitive advantages

from the perspective of application integration, for ERP user enterprises, standard middleware can integrate the original applications, new applications, third-party applications and purchased business components in ERP system for application integration, which can save a lot of investment for enterprises. (end)

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