Bobby, I propbably simplified my post too much to really make myself clear, but Omega is used every day to run jobs on our edge. For the first 5 years I had it, I was the one running it everyday untill recently hiring my first employee 7 months ago. My main point was that I don't design in it, I import Illustrator files, & then make my minor adjustments like assigning foil colors, screwing around with print order, overprints, gradients, & setting up repeats.. (OK, not always "minor") ...or I am using it for opening 6 years worth of .plt files for re-orders, so it is hardly "sitting on a shelf"
Flexi is used each day also, but only for setting up (or opening existing) print/cut files for my Mimaki.
Signlab is the newest major investment, & I could have used Omega to run my 24" Graphtec plotter for basic cut vinyl jobs... but My employee is so entensively capable in Signlab, that I have no doubt his increased production will justify the expense, plus as my 2nd employee learns to run more edge jobs, the infrastructure is there to pull the Graphtec & Signlab over to another workstation & have both employees keeping both dedicated systems producing.
I actually think having all my layouits start in Illustrator has some advantages. Alomost like backing up (which I also do religiously) it offers me second copies of every job I run...
I'm not exactly sure the meaning of "Interoperability between applications and various workstations is pretty critical."