Application integration changes as app development evolves
Quick dive into application integration architecture
Application integration defines the principles of moving data amongapplications to reduce these inconsistency risks and the work needed toconnect applications through multiple manual updates. It involves a mixture ofdatabase design and pipelining of application data. Not surprisingly,applications are divided into database-related and data flow-related, and thathasn’t changed much.The way we build applications and the way applications are hosted havechanged. In recent years, the acceptance of the integration architect andenterprise architecture (EA) as a formal IT discipline, the componentizationof the applications themselves, the method in which apps are now developed andthe arrival of cloud computing and virtualization as means of hosting haveincreased the importance of application integration and drive the need forstreamlined and automated approaches to app integration. All of these factorsare converging on CIOs at a time when senior management wants more IT agilityand efficiency, and so, a systematic approach to them all is critical.EA defines the architecture of business processes at a high level and derivesapplication needs from that high-level definition. EA creates moreinformation-sharing needs, but it also encourages users to fulfill those needsoutside of traditional applications.
The application integration architecture influence
The influence of EA on application integration has been felt in a database-centric vision of information integration. If business data is stored in aform of a repository and made available through queries, then individualinformation use is tied to queries and analytics and not to specificapplications.> Mobility and the empowerment of mobile workers have encouraged more and more> componentization as companies try to address tactical productivity needs> more efficiently.Componentization of applications has broken monolithic software into dozens ofpieces, each of which runs loosely coupled with the others. Information flowamong components inside applications has to be highly efficient or workerquality of experience and productivity suffer. Because of this, considerablework has been done to improve component information exchange. Mobility and theempowerment of mobile workers have encouraged more and more componentizationas companies try to address tactical productivity needs more efficiently.One of the drivers of componentization is component reuse, the building ofmultiple applications from a common component set. Because of component reuseamong applications, the boundaries of applications themselves are breakingdown, and application integration and component integration are converging.Component integration tools, such as service and message buses or service datadefinition languages, can now also be used to integrate applications.The cloud and virtualization have broken a traditional bond between anapplication or component and a server resource. Servers are now part of apool, some of which might even be outside the company in a public cloud. Anypiece of functionality can go anywhere, and so, where it does go has to berecorded so that other components can find it. Deploying applications in adynamic way means providing for a dynamic connection of what’s been deployed.
Application integration changes as app development evolves
Application integration also continues to change because other aspects ofapplication development evolve. Agile operations have created a need for a newset of tools, and those tools are already evolving into more complicatedorchestration tools to deploy and link applications and components running onpools of resources. These tools, as they evolve and improve, are absorbingsome of the functions that were traditionally part of application integration.All of these trends influence application integration architecture and the useof databases and information flows to link the IT support components forbusiness processes. The most important trend in application integration todayis the fact that, in the traditional sense, it’s no longer the only problem oreven the most significant one. If you ask CIOs today what their greatestchallenge is, application integration is unlikely to figure prominently, butall three of the new factors probably will.A modern view of application integration and the modern integration architecthave to accommodate this reality. The EA-driven focus on analytics, softwarecomponentization and the cloud all affect information movement and so affectany approaches to the application integration architecture problem. The toolsthat support these three factors are already converging with each other, andit is clear that application integration will be included in the scope of moreand more tools over time.
Convergence of trends may simplify application integration
The happy convergence of all the major application and hosting trends maysimplify integration and application integration architecture overall bycreating a single set of tools that can accommodate both the past and currenttrends in information flow integration and data harmonization. That hasn’thappened yet, and in the near term, the reality is that integration architectsmay have to cope with all of the past and evolving challenges with as-yet-disconnected tools and practices.These trends also mean that there is truly no avoiding the challenges ofapplication integration and that even companies and integration architects whothought they’d fully addressed those challenges may find that today’s ITdrivers will force them to revisit them. An understanding of all the trendsand all the tools that address them is critical in creating a truly unified ITenvironment in a future where agility and efficiency will be in even moredemand than they are today.We’ve multiplied the missions for application integration, which has naturallymultiplied the tool choices and the distinct issue and problem sets. Today,application integration is a part of all the significant technology andbusiness shifts in IT. Navigating through the current period of push-and-pullissue influence on the topic to a long-term cohesive vision of a cloud,component and mobile worker future may be the most critical task for ITplanners.What is Application Integration?
Why Application Integration?
The need for application integration stems from the need to move data betweenapplications. This includes transferring data from one application to anotherin a scheduled, ongoing way or moving data once from a legacy system intosomething new. Or, in short, application integration is used to make lifeeasier.With application integration, you can enter data once and connect it tomultiple applications instead of entering the same data as many times as youhave applications. When you add new data into an application that has beenintegrated with other applications, the data will be automatically distributedthroughout the connected applications. This reduces human error, the need formanual intervention, and overall ensures consistency across your platforms.By having a comprehensive system that forms a bridge between heterogeneousapplications, you won’t have to be concerned about whether your applicationswere originally intended to communicate with each other or not. This gives youthe freedom and flexibility to choose applications of your choice, not justapps that are within a collection of technologies or from the same vendor.
FME For Application Integration
While FME is most well known for its ability to integrate data, it can alsosupport application integration and enterprise application integrationworkflows. Whether you need to integrate applications to migrate from a legacysystem to something new or are looking to enable application integration as anon-going routine process, FME is the integration platform that is here tohelp.
What is Application Integration Software?
Application integration software combines and enhances data flows between twoseparate software applications. Businesses often use application integrationsoftware to create a bridge between a new cloud application and an olderapplication hosted on-premise, enabling a wide range of independently designedapplications to work together.
What is the Application of Integration?
Application integration services enable the sharing of processes and businessdata among a wide range of applications in an organization. This meansseamlessly connecting a variety of on-premise and cloud apps to transform andorchestrate the data required for business workflows. These applicationsaddress several business needs and can be anything from CRM and e-commerceplatforms to finance and ERP systems.Once upon a time, your enterprise ran solely on legacy, on-premise software.Next came the growth of cloud computing. Nowadays, you probably have somecombination of both. But your on-premise and cloud applications must worktogether efficiently, and they do so through application integrationtechnology.So, why application integration, exactly? The short answer is that connectedsystems are critical to delivering a comprehensive view of regular businessworkflows, the ones that require multiple technology interventions and driverevenue.Most applications, designed at various times and by a variety of vendors, donot inherently talk to each other and require additional technology to enablethat communication. And it’s integration technology that connects SaaS and on-premise apps with your enterprise architecture open communication mechanismsand eliminate the data silos that slow business processes.
Examples of Application Integration
The definition of application integration technology can vary by company,depending on the use case, data pattern, and the application integration toolsyou have on hand, all of which play a big role in how these applications getintegrated. Some businesses might custom-build point-to-point integration.Others might take an open-source approach and leverage best practices fromdeveloper communities. Still others with the internal resources will leveragean application’s APIs or Web Services.Whether it’s a one-time move of application data, two-way synchronization, oron-demand data processing, an enterprise application integration (EAI)strategy combines technologies and services to move relevant information amongthe software applications and IT systems powering your enterprise. Here are afew common EAI approaches: * On-premise application integrationAn on-premise application can be a homegrown ERP that you own or anotherproprietary tool you’ve purchased and that’s deployed behind your own firewallor in your own “private cloud.” Traditional approaches to such internalapplication integration include custom-coding them together but alsoleveraging an enterprise service bus (ESB), a middleware platform that uses arules engine to transform and route messages and enable communication betweenapplications. * SaaS application integrationOrganizations today often have dozens (even hundreds) of SaaS applications inuse across their enterprise. A SaaS CRM like Salesforce or the cloud-basedNetSuite ERP is an extremely popular data management tool, but they mustintegrate it into your enterprise architecture to avoid data silos and blackboxes. A popular cloud integration method is using a pure-play iPaaS solution.These tools rely on single-use API-based integrations, which are oftendeveloper-centric and costly. * application-to-application integrationEnterprises in pursuit of end-to-end processing and comprehensive visibilityinto critical business processes strive for application-to-applicationintegration. Let’s say you’re jumping into e-commerce and want to build out adigital store using Magento or Shopify. Integrating those e-commerce dataworkflows with your ERP fulfillment processes, which trigger other EDIsoftware integration and B2B data exchange workflows, is critical to ensuringyour business can deliver what it just sold. It also enables automation andincreases efficiency by eliminating manual data intervention. Whether it’s aMagento-NetSuite integration or a Salesforce-SAP integration, an ecosystemintegration platform streamlines these A2A workflows.
3 Challenges to Application Integration
With the proliferation of innovative business software applications, includingmarketing, HR, messaging and collaboration, accounting and finance, andproject management tools, it’s safe to say that businesses tend to use a lotof apps. These applications are often critical for employees to help thebusiness execute on its goals and provide premium service to its customers,and thus, so is application integration.The more cloud and on-premise applications are added, the more complex thecentral business integration data flow can become, and all these pieced-together applications run the risk of creating havoc because they are notsuccessfully integrated within the IT environment. But because there are somany different solutions to integrate, including cloud applications andservices, companies often are stuck trying to find a reliable solution thatsupports agile deployment and integration of best-of-breed enterpriseapplication technology.Companies without the right integration platform will be drowning in anapplication environment that is custom-coded, unscalable, and difficult tomanage. But they also will learn they aren’t gaining the most business valuefrom these application investments.You can get a lot of data management functionality out of a new ERP, TMS, WMS,CRM, or other application, but here are three reasons why you may not begetting 100 percent value out of it: 1. Application is silo-ed: Applications spun up individually and outside an enterprise’s core hold data – and any potential data-related insights – hostage in a siloed part of the business. These data “stovepipes” often happen when your IT infrastructure cannot inherently support integration for SaaS solutions and other cloud-based services. 2. Integration is cumbersome: One-off integrations extend the amount of time it takes to onboard and consumes an application, which in turn requires specialized skillsets to maintain. Additionally, these custom-built integrations can throw transaction errors, slow data flows, hinder partner relationships, and impede business growth. 3. No process automation: Organizations that lack adequate data transformation and mapping capabilities cannot accept and route partner data efficiently, and the application operates outside the automated data orchestration process. This prohibits real-time data visibility that helps businesses expeditiously respond to customer and partner demands.
5 Application Integration Software Benefits
Think about all the applications you use in your organization that could usesome integration. These include Salesforce, NetSuite, SugarCRM, Magento, andeven HR, supply chain management (SCM), and warehouse management (WMS)systems.Modern application integration connectors take your data and transform it intoa format that’s compatible with your IT architecture and streamlining theprocess. An integrated business network, for example, would take an order fromyour e-commerce gateway, verify the data, transform it into a formatcompatible with your back-end ERP for processing, connect to your EDI systemfor logistics and delivery, move it on to the finance system for payment andinvoicing, and then sync all the customer order info seamlessly into your CRM.Pretty cool, huh? It’s a process that is intuitive and tailored to yourspecific business needs, and it’s why there’s a high demand for applicationintegration today. The benefits of application integration run deep, andinclude: 1. Faster GTM: Delays in technology deployment often hinder businesses from gaining a faster ROI. Application connectors enable businesses to go to market quickly with a new system and expedite the return on their investment. Regardless of the application and data format, businesses can integrate and transform data to the proper specifications while eliminating the tedious manual processes that often plague the launch of a new business system. 2. Process automation: Enterprises’ business processes can vary greatly, and a leading application integration platform will support the seamless handoff of data among a variety of systems and workflows to support efficiency and automation. The ability to re-use map templates saves countless hours on the onboarding and partner configuration processes. A leading integration platform also triggers application events and alerts for proactive troubleshooting and integrated communications. 3. Concurrent processing: Concurrent processing means multiple processes doing similar work are designed to happen at the same time. For example, the ability to process the same or different order processes at the same time, including order-to-cash transactions, performing product price and quantity lookups, and reconciling front and back-end systems can happen simultaneously. This helps businesses handle multiple orders in real-time, while also still facilitating batch processing where it makes sense. 4. Visibility: Application integration enables complete end-to-end integration and increased visibility that enables organizations to view, track, and report on the data throughout the workflow. Effective application integration helps companies easily respond to customer expectations and requirements and gain a comprehensive view of end-to-end business processes. 5. Scalability: A scalable integration platform supports a variety of applications required to grow your business in new ways and leverage the technology required to get there. Application connectors and map reusability mean businesses don’t have to start from scratch on every new integration and can rapidly scale and connect to a new source of business revenue.
Application Integration Strategy – Use Connectors
Each of these scenarios presents different obstacles that an enterprise mustovercome to ensure an application runs as designed and as efficiently aspossible. Nobody wants an expensive ERP or CRM deployment and migration onlyto have it fail to further hinder business productivity.So, how do you get the most out of your important applications, so they canfulfill their original purposes, empower employees, and create business value?The answer is simple: prebuilt application connectors.A portfolio of prebuilt application connectors allows enterprises to integrateall of their business-critical applications. There are many advantages tousing these connectors, including faster time to value and a smootheronboarding process among the members of your business ecosystem.Additionally, application connectors provide enterprises with the agilitynecessary to expand and evolve their businesses. Instead of spending (wasting)valuable time creating integrations yourself, this process is completed foryou so you can better focus your resources on creating true businessopportunities.Connectors can expedite the integration process for several applications, butwe’ll focus on three application categories core to the modern businessecosystem, its processes, and how business is done in the era of the cloud.They are: 1. ECommerce Marketplaces 2. Cloud ERPs 3. Cloud CRMsE-Commerce Marketplaces: From manufacturers to wholesalers and traditionalbrick-and-mortar retailers, companies have started to leverage e-commercemarketplaces to expand their ecosystem and add new revenue streams. E-commercemarketplaces such as eBay, Amazon, and Etsy have allowed supply chainparticipants to launch new business models for direct selling by way ofdigital storefronts. Oftentimes, businesses begin small, experimenting atselling on digital marketplaces and utilizing an in-house skillset to manuallymanaging orders, shipments, and fulfillment. However, the reality is thatsuccess in e-commerce means managing more product data, more orders, and morefulfillment processes, meaning much more time, manual effort, and manpower arerequired to effectively support a viable e-commerce presence.One of the most popular e-commerce marketplaces is Amazon Seller Central. Thechallenge businesses face, however, is that Amazon’s API richness meansconnecting and integrating can get very complicated. Teams may need to spend alot of time to learn and potentially code out a solution, crippling the timeto value, and allowing competitors to be there first.In connecting to Amazon-like e-commerce marketplaces, businesses shouldconsider leveraging API connectors that help streamline business processintegration and help eliminate the manual effort needed to maintain theirselling.Connecting to an e-commerce marketplace like Amazon Seller Central must beoptimized to ensure that the digital store is integrated as part of a completeend-to-end business process. The Amazon storefront, for example, mustintegrate into your ERP to align data between front-end and back-end systemsto fill orders, monitor inventory, and provide optimal customer experience.An application connector for Amazon allows the business to quickly configureand orchestrate business processes that leverage Amazon APIs. In thisinstance, through the connector, a manufacturer could place products directlyon Amazon, maintain accurate inventory data, initiate fulfillment processes byAmazon or third-party providers, and gain visibility and insights into theoverall business process.The ability to connect and integrate seamlessly with Amazon puts your companyin the driver’s seat and provides a global reach to the business outside oftraditional retail. Further, automating data alignment between your e-commercestorefront and back-end ERP systems helps eliminate manual integrationprocesses to greatly reduce costs and errors for competitive advantage.Cloud ERPs: A cloud ERP (enterprise resource planning) application is hostedon a third-party cloud computing platform, rather than behind your ownfirewall. Companies that opt for this option do so because it can save aconsiderable amount of money in the short and long terms. Your costs will bepredictable, and most cloud ERPs offer a pay-as-you-go model. Meanwhile,organizations also don’t have to worry about ongoing maintenance and othercosts that may arise when you are responsible for managing the solution.Acumatica is an ERP provider that is specifically designed to work for mid-size enterprises. It provides business applications for finance, distribution,and accounting. A prebuilt application connector allows you to sync Acumaticadata across your applications and business ecosystem of trading partners,customers, and more. Connecting to Acumatica’s ERP provides secure datahandoff to enterprise applications and systems for storage and analysis andbusiness intelligence through end-to-end process visibility.Cloud CRMs: A cloud CRM (customer relationship management) application issimilar to a cloud ERP in that it is also hosted by a third-party provider. ACRM uses data integration so that enterprises can gain valuable informationabout their customers to better serve them. The type of information gatheredis wide-ranging, but an integrated cloud CRM ultimately helps you manage adatabase of sales leads, track and monitor outreach, and ensure your importantcustomer records are up to date.The most common and widely used cloud CRM is Salesforce, a SaaS platform inuse by virtually every industry for a variety of business functions, such assales, service, and marketing. A prebuilt Salesforce application connectorintegrates your environment with the cloud CRM to sync customer relationshipdata to your back-end systems. Salesforce makes it simple so you can accessyour communication and information about any of your customers.