4 Types of System Integration- Pros vs. Cons of Each Method
Businesses seeking to implement data sharing between their existing software should consider the different types of system integration and how they can optimize transparency.
System integration is a data management process that uses software to share information between various subsystems automatically. As every system is programmed with different coding, an integrator acts as a middleman that translates data from each software behind the scenes.
Without this solution, the information would have to be manually inputted by employees, increasing the risk of human error, and costing the business additional time and labor expenses.
There are many types of software integration that use different infrastructure to meet a company's needs. Some solutions transfer data between specific subsystems, while others form a robust database through an interconnected network. Therefore, businesses should learn about each system integration method and its pros and cons to determine which option best suits their company.
Pros and Cons of System Integration
Implementing an integration system has many advantages and disadvantages, including-
- Enhanced Productivity - The most significant advantage data integration provides is its functionality, which promotes operational productivity and efficiency. From contacting vendors and placing purchase orders, to fulfilling customer requests, internal and external communication is vital to successful operations. Having to manage the supply chain manually takes extensive time and effort from a large team of employees. However, an integration solution minimizes human errors and time spent on data formatting through automatic translation and transferal. This allows employees to invest their time in other business operations and project management.
- Optimized Data Management - Software is meant to enhance operational functions within a company. However, without a system integrator, the business spends an extended amount of time running analyses on the various solutions individually. An integrated information system allows users to cross-examine all software through a common data format, giving management a clearer perspective of their overall performance.
- Reduced Expenses - An integration system lowers labor costs by automatically handling data generation that would otherwise require additional labor.
- Improved Customer Service - An integrated information system increases customer service speed by eliminating the need to navigate through multiple processes.
- Security Risks - As system integration handles all business data, extensive security measures must be put in place during software development. Without proper protection, hackers can gain access to vital information.
- Complicated Upgrading - Although a system integrator links all software together, they still need to be upgraded individually. This can be a complex process requiring time and multiple IT workers.
- High Initial Expense - While businesses can save money on maintenance through integration, they still must invest in each program, which can become costly.
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4 Types of Integration Methods
Another factor management should consider is the different types of system integration processes available, as each of these methods has a different purpose. There are four main types of system integration methods, including-
The most common integration process is the Application Programming Interface (API). While there are several API subcategories, including public, private, and partners, they all utilize application integration.
By establishing these interconnections using common code language, systems can transmit data seamlessly throughout solutions.
- Flexibility - By using product code language, the API method can handle most data variations.
- Smooth Operations - The links between the systems allow providers to handle individual connections without disturbing third-party software.
- High Availability - As the most common integration strategy, API is available for almost every integration project.
- Supplier Dependability - Suppliers are responsible for establishing an API, making the partnering business dependent on their schedule for data access.
- Code Intensive - While being code-based makes APIs more functional, programming the coding is time-intensive and can be overwhelming.
Also known as HTTP callbacks, webhooks also link applications but are not code-based. Instead, webhooks are event-based, which requires programming modules within each subsystem that are triggered by third-party services. Management is only alerted when a specific event occurs, or change is made.
- Real-time Data - By not using a request-based method, management can access real-time data at any time.
- Automation - Since information is updated whenever an event occurs, businesses do not have to schedule data collection times within the integrator.
- Limited Data Control - HTTP callbacks rely on the systems to recognize an event for data to transfer, whereas, APIs allow users to alter or create data without triggering the software.
Integration Services Components (ISC) are not code-based but instead live on a server to connect with local management tools. This allows the system integrator to access data without importing large files.
- Increased Functionality - As long as the business has cloud-access to data within the web service, ISC can connect and integrate systems.
- Extensive Database Knowledge Necessary - In order to correctly set-up ISCs, the user must have a vast knowledge of local servers and databases.
- Requires Exclusive Application Access - Many times, businesses do not have back-end access to applications, making it impossible for the ISC system to integrate.
Orchestration systems are the most automated integrators available, handling the scheduling of tasks between several solutions. This method aims to consolidate repeated processes to enhance production and information flow. By automating multiple software and processes together, users can connect with any service to access data.
- Complete Automation - Full automation across all platforms streamlines data sharing and enhances operation transparency.
- Manage Several Solutions - Orchestrations allows users to manage all involved systems simultaneously.
- Code-Intensive - Much like APIs, this method requires extensive knowledge of coding for software development.
- Work-Intensive - Implementing orchestration is very complicated due to the integration of systems' schedules, requiring additional employees and time to manage every detail.
There are many types of system integration methods available to meet the unique needs of any organization. Whether a business wants to streamline internal or external communication and data sharing, there is a method that will meet the integration need.