There is a new buzz word: “Digital Transformation” that enterprises are referring to these days as part of their major corporate agenda in the technology world. Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) is the term coined for seamless collaboration of business operations leading to exponential growth rates. This concept has brought revolution to businesses who not only take digital technologies as an enabling factor for growth but in fact, strategise it around their business models.
In the present-day workplace scenario, organizations face the need to be increasingly efficient in operations while keeping the costs at a minimum. Being global and conducting multiple operations means never shutting down. Organizations need to be able to conduct, control and direct activities from anywhere and anytime and supporting data needs to be readily available. The problem arises when various applications involved do not play well together and useful information is stored in silos rather than seamlessly floating across all applications.
The current advent of cloud computing, Big Data and IoT makes the need for data ever more than before and Enterprise Application Integration is the ultimate solution or better put – a necessity. With everything being digital and requiring connectivity, Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) is used to bridge the gap between different programs and enable seamless data flow between apps and middleware. In the current digital world it is inevitable and an obligation for organizations that are striving to be leading innovators.
A single enterprise might be using multiple systems to support different functional departments and according to a survey report by Deloitte, about 95% of the companies questioned think collaboration is a mission critical element to their success. EAI allows companies to collaborate between various specialized operations such as accounts and finance, marketing, human resource, procurement & logistics, and others for operational excellence by using relevant middleware. By integrating business applications and hardware systems, EAI bridges the gap between different programs. This allows exchange of data across all applications and a sharp focus on all operations of a business.
The primary goal or expected outcome for EAI is to automate business processes, increase productivity and drastically improve interdepartmental communication. This concept has revolutionized businesses that not only take digital technologies as an enabling factor for growth, but more importantly strategise it around their business models.
The increasing importance for EAI in the tech savvy world of today has left no doubt, though when considering actual implementation there is no one solution fits all answer and it can be quite a challenge.
Depending on the size of an organization there can be multitude endpoints to connect to and each may possess varying requirements. Other than internal systems, external systems such as those of vendors or other service providers have to also be taken into consideration increasing the challenge and there is hardly any preset well layered application system that is standardizing all these end points. Data stores may be flat files or home-grown lacking all sorts of consistency and could only be accessed by the applications that were built specifically for them. A web service or specific integration tools are required to cater to the requirements of various applications. Moreover these systems and their schemas may also be prone to frequent change.
Nevertheless advanced technology solution providers such as Arcana Info have years of experience deploying strategic EAI systems and they study the requirements and provide the most suitable custom solution to cater to specific organization challenges.
IT service providers enable rather than hinder such changes and focus on ensuring stability and control. A complete EAI approach focuses on combining data & standards, business processes, applications and platforms. Mainly global data sharing standards are created, various entities such as tasks and procedures and related tools are streamlined, various functionalities are integrated using business to business or web integration and a secure and reliable platform is provided for easy communication and transfer of information.
Depending on the type of industry, company, project requirements and budget the level used to implement an EAI solution, greatly varies. There are mainly four stages:
This is a database centric approach where backend data stores are integrated to enable movement of data. Data from one database is extracted and updated in another. This is done through SQL queries to load data to a data warehouse or data mart allowing it to then serve various business needs from one location.
This approach is low cost and involves low risk as the original code is not altered but it can mean that data is drawn from a multitude of databases and tables causing problems in to keep the data intact along with associated business rules.
This involves the use of custom or prepackaged applications which provide access to business processes and information. These applications use an interface to extract information from one application, they convert the data to an understandable format and transmit it into another.
The approach is relatively simple to use and preserves data integrity making it popular.
As business functions are shared in the application level, this level directly shares the various methods or business logic used to compose a business function. All common operations are aggregated into a single front application and all other applications must interact with this front application using a Remote Procedure Call, rather than rewriting methods.
The common trend for this approach is to use web services. This approach is invasive as existing applications are modified and is thus used less frequently.
This level does not require any change to the source nor the target application making it necessary for mainframe applications that do not provide databases or business process level access. Applications are integrated by using user interfaces and replacing by standardized interfaces, mainly browser based. This approach is the simplest, though also the least flexible.
Arcana Info takes into account the business need and depending on the requirements crafts an exact EAI solution.