Businesses that can achieve enterprise application integration (EAI) can seamlessly share data throughout all company locations to enhance transparency and productivity.
While often confused with system integration (SI), EAI is the complete framework of multiple management systems, while SI refers to the actual integration process. Therefore, businesses need to implement an SI in order to reach successful EAI.
An integration system can give businesses many advantages over competitors but requires a close look at its functions and models to achieve EAI successfully.
Benefits of Enterprise Application Integration
As a business expands and opens more locations, more software is required for supply chain management and internal operations. However, without an integration platform, solutions can get muddled and become confusing, as communication between software is not automated.
With EAI, all application data is shared and synchronized to form a sizeable centralized network. Systems such as accounting, billing, marketing, data analytics, and customer relationship solutions are all interconnected to optimize processes and information availability.
Enterprise applications have a wide range of options, from cloud-based servers to on-site data centers and third-party providers. Regardless of what existing solutions a business may have, EAI can customize software development, service-oriented architecture, and data integration.
Establishing EAI eliminates the inconvenience of navigating through several systems, duplicated functions and data, and manual communication between departments. This integration solution has many other benefits, including-
- User Convenience - Being able to access data on one interface makes pulling information quick and easy, saving businesses time and capital on labor.
- Expandability - The flexibility of EAI allows users to enable any solution without worrying whether its infrastructure aligns with their integrator. Therefore, organizations can establish any system to help expand their business.
- Reduced Complexity - Adding new software to blend existing technology can make matters even more confusing. EAI integrates established systems into one comprehensive, user-friendly platform, reducing maintenance needs.
- Enhanced Agility - With access to all incoming and outgoing data, EAI alerts users of any discrepancies or technical issues. This recognition allows management to respond using a single user interface, avoiding any further damages quickly.
- Automation - Automating business intelligence sharing increases productivity and operational efficiency. For example, data from a customer database can integrate with an email marketing system so staff can develop effective advertisements based on consumer purchase histories. These ventures can be optimized by integrating demand forecasting and point-of-sale (POS) systems to gain insight into future marketing projects.
3 Factors of Enterprise Application Integration
Antiquated integration methods consisted of connections to multiple information silos rather than integrating software applications, which hindered operational performance. On the other hand, modern EAI solutions create a digital transformation to eliminate such inconveniences by focusing on the following elements-
- Data Integration - Regardless of whether applications use internal or external-facing software, EAI synchronizes all databases, allowing complete data access throughout a business.
- Common Interfacing - By utilizing a single graphical user interface (GUI), EAI's allow users to connect with other users and access information through one platform. This feature streamlines communication and processes by enhancing productivity.
5 Models of Enterprise Application Integration
Similar to any integration solution, there are several EAI models available to businesses. Each type uses a unique framework and method to enhance communication and data management. The five standard models of EAI include-
1. Point-to-Point Integration
This was among the first application integration methods to be utilized. The point-to-point connections used a script to extract, translate, and transfer data from one format to another. This proved to be effective within relatively small operations but is inefficient when handling several systems. Having to repeat the three-step data integration for many software becomes time-consuming and hard to maintain.
2. Hub-and-Spoke Integration
The hub-and-spoke model uses a central "hub" in which applications and systems connect to through "spokes." In this method, information is reformatted and distributed from one database, eliminating the need to interconnect subsystems. However, software developers must still engage components that will automatically route information to the appropriate destination.
3. Bus Integration
The bus integration method is an evolved hub-and-spoke model in the sense that it performs the same tasks but in a different architecture. While hub-and-spoke integration uses a centralized transmitter, the bus method performs integration within each separate application. This enables data transmittance and retrieval to perform according to the rules of each service.
Acting as a behind-the-scenes translator, middleware is a software that regulates data between the systems and interfaces. This method makes it easier to aggregate data across all services because it ensures the information is transmittable.
Microservice models are most frequently used in businesses that utilize cloud-based applications. Using an application program interface (API), companies can pull and send data throughout all services with a local server. APIs also contain multiple levels of encryption to ensure that data is secure during transmittance and delivery.
Recognizing the need for integration is the first step toward implementing a data management solution. By establishing system integration, companies can achieve complete enterprise application integration, enhancing overall functionality.