Enterprise Application Integration And Its Benefits

The role of applications is widening, there are no two ways about it! In fact, developers all across the globe are found going all guns when it’s about making a mark in the current age of tech revolutionFrom web apps to websites, mobile apps, and now we have enterprise applications in line, technology is brimming with innovations that will take your business to new heights. And maybe that’s the reason why companies irrespective of their sizes have started relying more on such software applications or enterprise applications. Even many companies or many enterprises are using some older legacy systems, which are outdated, so it’s necessary to replace their existing applications with enterprise applications to stand out in the competitive world. The following post emphasizes why enterprise application integration is the current talk of the town in the business world. More or less, benefits offered by integrating an enterprise application.  

1. What is Enterprise Application Integration? (EAI)

With the help of IT-enabled systems, it is feasible to conduct successful enterprise application integration.  Today, businesses often tend to choose different software applications running for them simultaneously. If you own a company that might need to create or enable ERP integration in order to connect front-end applications to its back-end ERP system. That’s where an enterprise application integration system comes in.

Before moving further with enterprise app development, let’s get down to the basics! Incepted in the early 2000s, EAI was considered among the general category of approaches created to provide interoperability between the multiple disparate systems that make up a typical enterprise infrastructure. 

The History Further Says….

Enterprise architectures used to comprise several systems and applications, leading to several companies relying on them to conduct their businesses. A single organization might use separate systems, either developed in-house or licensed from a third party vendor, to manage their supply chain, customer relationships, employee information, and business logic. 

Modularization is often needed. Therefore, running a business was often broken into multiple smaller functionalities enabling for easy implementation of the best and newest technological advancements in each area, and quick adaptation to changing business needs. As a result, to gain benefits from such kind of distributed, modular system, an organization must implement technologies that deal with the problems presented by this architecture:

  • Interoperability –  A wide range of components of the infrastructure may use different operating systems, data formats, and languages, preventing connection via a standard interface. 
  • Data Integration – To make a modular functional, a standard method of handling the flow of data between applications and systems to enforce consistency across the database is crucial. 
  • Robustness, stability and scalability: Because they are the glue that holds together a modular infrastructure, integration solutions must be highly robust, stable, and scalable. 

2. Time to Take the Enterprise Application Integration into Account

Reaching out to reputable enterprise app development firms could be pure bliss as EAI solutions use various models of middleware to centralize and standardize integration practices across an entire infrastructure. The primary function of Enterprise Application Integration is to bridge the gap between different departmental software. It provides a user-friendly interface to better manage data flow and share it across multiple applications. Optimal use of EAI allows businesses to reap the complete benefits of their software investments.

Now which types of software are ideal for integration:

  • Enterprise Resource Planning
  • E-Commerce Optimization
  • Human Resource Data
  • Business analytics and intelligence
  • Customer relationship management
  • Supply chain management

3. Models for Enterprise Application Integration

In the world filled with options, how can you expect one cookie-cutter solution when it comes to enterprise application integration? Till date, it may quite interest you to know that several models have already been commenced just for the sake of establishing flawless communication between numerous enterprise applications. And I must say that the concept has matured over the years, you will see for yourself further.

Here down below, I would like to mention some of the standard models of Enterprise Application Integration that not just incorporates different frameworks or method but overall enables your organization to establish a seamless communication and data management solutions.

1. Point to Point integration

According to Gartner, this can be defined as a tightly coupled integration between the two points. For example, here you require having two sources, Salesforce and ERP systems and the data can be transformed in a single-go. Point to Point Integration is one of the simplest forms of enterprise application integration, you may ask why? Well, one of the main reasons could be that it becomes easy to access APIs.

2. Hub and Spoke Integration

The next enterprise application integration model in line we have is the hub-and-spoke model. Here the process is like the information is not just distributed but reformatted between different databases. Now what’s so interesting about the model is here, the concept of interconnecting systems is eliminated entirely. 

3. Bus Integration

Another interesting enterprise application integration model we must consider is bus integration. Cost-effective infrastructure, improved application life-cycle management support, enhanced developers productivity and manageability are some of the key benefits offered by this one here.

4. Middleware

This enterprise integration model is one of a kind. It easily connects operating systems and communication protocols. So whether you are willing to enhance connectivity or create innovative solutions, Middleware is the name to take into account. On and all, if you are looking for a versatile fix for all your modern business problems – Middleware is the name! 

5. Microservices

Among every other enterprise application integration model, this one uses cloud-based applications where companies can pull and send data throughout all services with a local server.  

4. Benefits of Enterprise Application Integration

4.1 Automation of Business Processes

Enterprise Application Integration has full potential to streamline processes that include data or activity from multiple software applications. For instance, data from a CRM can be integrated with an e-mail marketing platform to deliver targeted messages to customers based on their prior behaviour or demographics. That effort could then be coupled with an analytics package to measure the success of the email campaign. And all that data can be integrated with an ERP system to help the company invest resources where they’re most effective.

4.2 Improvement in Information Sharing

It may quite interest you to know that with appropriate integration of these enterprise applications, it is possible to conduct high-end interoperability between numerous departments of an organization. Moreover, users can get a holistic view of enterprise data by providing users with an integrated interface to access the functionality and data of various platforms. Thus, creating interoperability between complementing systems, both old and new.

4.3 Flexible IT Infrastructure

Scalability and flexibility have grown as a major norm. Enterprise Application Integration enables several organizations to develop IT facilities easily and respond timely to the growing expectations of the customer. And speaking about communication within the enterprise, several challenges might appear when employees who are not as tech-savvy as others need to do technical tasks. They face troubles in managing the IT-based structure.

 In fact, many times organizations face such situations when it is difficult for the executives to take care of the IT structure in the enterprise where they are not able to utilize innovative technologies optimally. EAI helps in overcoming these hurdles and streamlines the business process applying better functionality in linking information as well as the functionality of many applications into an easy-to-use interface.

4.4 Higher Efficiency

EAI does end up making communication easier, reducing their time and effort, better functionality, improved control. As a result, all of this leads to an increase in the efficiency of the organization. It enables the organization to identify and respond to new opportunities. It can help the companies address the change in market trends, their reputation management matters, issues related to disruptions in the supply chain etc. – from only one interface.

If done effectively, companies will soon be able to realize or acknowledge all the holistic advantages of their investments. Slowly and steadily it seems that these enterprise applications are found attaining acceptance and popularity among organizations across the globe.

It is not only advantageous to have EAI for enhancing organizational proficiencies, but also for the improvement of an individual’s performance with several features like employee records and rewards. According to several sources, it has been observed that organizations store only around one-fifth of the data off-premises. It means there is a substantial lack of confidence in the cloud as well as EAI solutions. 

4.5 Provide Competitive Advantage and more Opportunities

To top it all, enterprise application integration has resulted in creating a new paradigm in the use of technologies and services. Small, medium and large companies use it to facilitate their entire business process since it allows them to integrate everything from software applications to hardware systems. 

In addition, it is possible to enhance competitive advantages and opportunities compared to the different companies functioning as competition. What I mean is your management can be developed in several aspects such as marketing, which in the long run will give your company greater visibility in the business world.

Now did we mention that all this is going to be easy? Probably not! But considering these below-mentioned challenges of enterprise application development can definitely make things easy and hassle-free for you. 

 5. EAI vs. SOA vs. ESB

Since we have covered all the basics such as what is enterprise application integration, what are the benefits of integrating them, top standard enterprise application integration models to consider and now it’s time to focus on the difference between Enterprise Application Integration (EAI), Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Enterprise Service Buses (ESB). One of the most crucial aspects of delving into any topic is that you must know the difference among its relatives. So without any further ado, let us differentiate between the concepts and see what makes each one of them of a kind.

EAI – Enterprise Application Integration

I am sure there is not much new to talk about the technology concept as the entire blog focuses on the same but still let’s be unbiased here. When you implement EAI several procedures like customer relationship, supply chain management, inventory management, accurate forecasting becomes possible. 

Some of its advantages include – streamlined data exchange, saves time and energy, reduced labor cost, human errors are minimized.    

SOA – Service-Oriented Architecture

Service-oriented architecture is a sub-category used to achieve full EAI. Some of its main advantages include high reusability, independent location, enhanced scalability. In addition, by integrating SOA, businesses can avail seamlessly throughout all existing systems. In fact, all the shortcomings of EAI and ESB technologies are overcomed by SOA.

More or less, SOA brings better alignment to a business, such as bringing applications to market faster, lower the total cost of ownership of integration, and increased business agility.   

ESB – Enterprise Service Bus

Enterprise Service Bus provides a wide range of benefits such as less customization, enhanced operational efficiency, easier operation support and the list goes on. ESB has a service-oriented infrastructure for data transmittance upon user request or event occurrence. It is more kind of a cloud-computing router regulating data between communicating applications.

So when deciding which one to implement. Well, all three concepts EAI, SOA and ESB are of a kind. For example, EAI is best for large scale applications whereas SOA is best when it comes to flexibility, and ESB excels at adapting to changing requirements and emerging techs.  

6. Overcoming Enterprise Application Integration Challenges

6.1 Complex and Complicated

First and foremost, app integration is no longer limited to connection between one app and another. It also includes enabling new business processes or automating existing ones. Here it is very crucial for one to understand exactly what happens to your data and what can be the consequences every time when you change to the status quo. You see it really doesn’t matter whether you are creating new integrations, editing or deleting them, or transferring ownership. This is not at all easy and even frustrating. Multiple Enterprise applications such as ERP systems, CRM applications, SCM applications are used in the business to manage customers, payroll, and human resources systems typically cannot communicate with one another in order to share data or business rules.

To overcome such a challenge, take some time to work on how you can dodge the bullet. Also, make sure to avoid as many human interventions as you can, this is how you’ll get the work done faster and with fewer errors. The less dependen on a human, the better. Get things automated.  

6.2 Multiple Integration Solutions

The next one is multiple integration solutions. I have come across several enterprises that consider such schemes of killing two birds with one arrow and unfortunately end up failing to execute any new application. Having various integration solutions to manage requires numerous specialized skills and training, which only increases maintenance costs, reduces efficiency, and limits enterprise-wide integration capabilities.

See integration is a must-thing to do. So it is impossible to avoid. So what can be done is to look around for simpler and smaller integrations. Especially the ones which are more robust, and can create fewer dependencies than huge, complicated solutions. 

6.3 Inaccessible Data

For most businesses, digital transformation is a constant journey instead of being a quick fix. No matter how tech-savvy you are, some information is likely still stored in a way that is inaccessible to those who could benefit from it. Now, why so? Well, the first and foremost could be that cloud apps aren’t adequately connected to each other, leaving business data spread across different islands in the cloud. And secondly, Some data is still stored on-premises in legacy databases or older apps. As a solution use high-end cloud integration. 

7. Conclusion

Enterprise Application Integration is becoming crucial and a must-have thing day by day. So it doesn’t matter how bad you want to carry your work using a single application, it’s almost impossible. A wisely implemented app integration helps eliminate data silos, reduce IT complexity, increase agility, etc.  

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Itesh Sharma

Itesh Sharma is core member of Sales Department at TatvaSoft. He has got more than 6 years of experience in handling the task related to Customer Management and Project Management. Apart from his profession he also has keen interest in sharing the insight on different methodologies of software development.

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