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About Application Integration

Drivers are numerous for interoperability within the enterprise. To contain costs while meeting changing business objectives, organizations often need to integrate new custom or packaged applications with existing legacy applications running on a variety of platforms. This need has created the market known today as the Application Integration market.

Application integration can be defined as combining multiple applications, or parts thereof, into a new or greater "distributed" application. This can be done in many ways, such as having one application use the functionality of another application, or by having applications running on heterogeneous systems communicate by passing messages using a common syntax. Either way, application integration allows several applications to work together to achieve a greater goal than either application could achieve alone.

This "working together" can be achieved on several dimensions:
  1. Data-oriented
  2. Application interface-oriented
  3. Method-oriented
  4. Portal-oriented
  5. Process-oriented
Data-oriented application integration is the process, techniques, and technology of extracting information from one database, processing that information as needed, and updating it in another database within another organization. Although this may sound like a simple and straightforward process, a typical B2B enterprise-wide application integration project may mean drawing from hundreds of databases and thousands of tables. Primary advantages of data-oriented application integration are:

  • Non-invasiveness - the original application structure and data structure remain intact
  • Cost - because original code is not changed, no extra time (and money) has t be invested into changing, testing and deploying the application.
SPI Software Solutions has developed proprietary Data Integration Framework. It incorporates the latest in the Universal Data Access technology and is capable of supporting continuous reliable data exchange among most of the contemporary databases.

Application Interface - Oriented application integration is based on leveraging of interfaces exposed by custom or packaged applications. Developers use these interfaces in order to gain access to business processes and simple information. Exposed interfaces allow for bundling any number of applications to share business logic and information. The only limitation with this strategy rests with the specific features and functions of the application interfaces. Application Interface - Oriented application integration is most applicable to packaged applications like SAP, PeopleSoft, but becomes more and more available with software from other vendors.

Method - Oriented application integration can be simply defined as the sharing of business logic that exists within an enterprise. For example, the method for updating a customer record may be accessed from multiple applications within or between organizations. Method-oriented B2B application integration is something that we have been practicing for years, ever since enterprises started reusing the application development efforts.

Portal - Oriented application integration is, at its core, presenting information from several local or partner applications within the same user interface. This method is very popular today due to the overwhelming speed of Internet development. Companies can avoid the complexity and expense of traditional back-end integration by leveraging this approach to integrate their systems (such as inventory and sales automation) at the user interface.

Process - Oriented application integration is a sophisticated management system that places an abstract business-oriented layer on top of more traditional B2B information movement mechanisms. Process-oriented e-Business provides a view of how information is flowing between trading partners from the stand point of existing business objects and process automation. This form of integration deals primarily with abstract and shared processes, such as people, invoices, orders and companies, rather than with physical integration flows. Process integration is the most sophisticated type of application integration. It leverages all other previously described approaches. Ultimately, this is a goal of the application integration as a whole.

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