New research has shown integration of legacy IT continues to be a major issue for many companies and is driving interest in new ways of achieving this goal.

The majority of organisations polled (40%) report difficulties in integrating their legacy systems with newer applications such as e-business or CRM, the latest survey from PMP Research has found.

Only one in five (21%) reckon integration is something they can do ‘very well’, while another 30% describe their performance as ‘adequate’. Significantly, just 7% claim to have no such requirement at all.

The research, commissioned by technology buying website the Evaluation Centre, claims heterogeneous system environments are a major factor towards lack of the lack of integration success. The most common choice for corporate applications was as a mixture of standalone and bespoke packages, cited by a third (30%). In contrast, only 14% have standardised on integrated ERP packages.

A clear majority of 84% cite increased operational effectiveness as the main reason for initiating integration projects. And a much larger proportion (77%) of respondents now report a central group responsible for co-ordinating all integration activity has been established, compared to 57% who had last year.

But a quarter of the sample (26%) say they have had to abandon an integration project at some point. “Poor benefits realisation is one reason for this, along with changes in project scope, other business priorities and a shortage of specialist skills,” said PMP.

SOA on the rise

Perhaps partly in response to this, organisations are now looking at new ways to approach integration. Software re-use emerges as an important consideration, with 60% of respondents identifying this as a key issue for their organisation and 37% saying that re-use is now more important to their company than it has been in previous years.

Almost two-thirds (63%) are using web services technology in integration projects, and a similar proportion (65%) say they are either already implementing or a considering implementing a services oriented architecture (SOA) approach.

PMP reports the top two reasons for moving to an SOA are the idea it will make it easier to align IT more closely with business requirements (60%) and the belief that the architectural methodology opens the way to greater organisational flexibility and agility (60%). The main stumbling block was viewed as difficulty in managing a mix of third-party vendors (46%).