Enterprise Application Integration
Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) is the effective integration of applications to support a business process and achieve business results, whether to improve customer service, speed time to market, achieve greater efficiency, or reduce costs.
EAI solutions provide an integrated approach to connecting the different components of IT infrastructure- people, applications, platforms and databases to enable secure, intra and inter enterprise collaboration. EAI solutions enable an organization to integrate business processes internally and externally with business partners to create dynamic environments that support current and evolving business requirements, thereby creating a global organization. EAI assists in unrestricted sharing of data and business processes among any connected applications or data sources in the enterprise without making major changes to the applications or data structures. EAI integrates multiple, independently developed applications using incompatible technologies into a single enterprise wide system with information flowing seamlessly.
REASONS FOR EMERGENCE OF EAI
The reasons for emergence of EAI need are varied. Efforts by the leading Enterprise Business Application Suppliers seeking to establish themselves as the primary provider of the business and the IT backbone that supports the enterpriseís operations. But the core driving forces behind EAI is of following categories, which are within themselves Inter-related.
E-business requires connecting of customers, suppliers and partners across the world, so as to form an integrated value and supply chain over the Internet
Industry regulation & de-regulation
Opening up of business processes to share information and allow market access requires information to flow transparently and seamlessly both externally and internally.
Business Process Automation
Business Process Automation requires new products and services to be integrated with already existent applications so as to improve efficiency, operating costs and customer services across an organization.
Growth in implementation of ERP packages
ERP vendors are coming up with a product line complete with interfaces/ adapters to assist the ERP solution to be integrated with other applications as they have realized that ERP solutions to be effective should be integrated with the back end legacy applications.
Supply Chain Management & Customer Relationship Management
There is a movement towards virtual enterprise linking application systems from various companies in the supply chain. Significant developments in peer to peer networking and distributed processing have made it possible for businesses to integrate better their own functional departments as well as integrate with their partners and suppliers for better SCM & CRM. Re-engineering of business processes by organizations for greater customer focus requires close cooperation between standalone applications.
Zero Latency Enterprise
Zero latency enterprise refers to an organization that can change its business rules in real time to act on new market opportunities and customer demands. An enterprise application integration solution accelerates responses and facilitates business changes in the zero latency enterprise.
Reduction of business process life cycle
In the todayís competitive business environment the need to align business systems with business goals is all the more a reality. Business processes evolve continuously requiring new methods and data, which in turn require integration with the existing ones. These new applications should start operations quickly moving IT management to shorter application lifecycles. This is made possible because of EAI solutions which help in integrating different applications and also assist in changing the business rules as required in minimum amount of time.
Intranet/ internet explosion
The Intranet/ Internet explosion is leading to surge in the demand for a new class of human active applications that require integration with back end legacy applications. This feature again is enabled by EAI solution which can integrated the front end and back end applications.
ADVANTAGES OF IMPLEMENTING EAI
- Assists in Supply Chain Management and has the ability to adapt to business changes like Mergers and Acquisitions as it unifies/ integrates applications in no time Presents user applications with an unified view of information for better decision making thereby achieving cross system consistency.
- Assists in formation of Zero Latency Enterprise – when all functions within the organization work with the same up-to- data information, latency between applications is eliminated/ reduced.
- Updating and integrating of applications is possible whenever required. New applications can be created by integrating real time data from different parts of the enterprise.
- Assists in rapid business process change.
- Enables creation of virtual corporations with virtual supply chains and operations through sharing of data beyond the organization.
- Makes possible for legacy or proprietary systems to function on web.
- Enhancements to standard applications can be made rapidly.
The EAI solution works at both data level and business process level and assists in sharing data of different applications. This sharing of data involves different types business process depending on the type of data sharing involved.
The various logical steps for data sharing are as given below:
- Unload raw data from source database
- Validate raw data against source business model
- Transform source business model data into target business data
- Validate business data against target business model
- Load data into Target database
The various integration processes are as follows:
- Data to data
- Business model to business model
- Business Model to data model
- Data model to business model
The initial focus of EAI was at the data-level i.e., moving or replicating data among databases, but it is evolving into business process automation. The present EAI technology is different to the earlier EAI solutions as its focus is on integrating enterprise applications and not data or assortment of different application types. Also the EAI solution can be reused for many other needs, not just on the same platform but also across heterogeneous platforms and networks and between multiple suppliers packaged applications. The other differences in the past and present EAI solutions are that the integration is now at business process and practices level, not at application level or database level and the middleware is transparent to the user, so specific expertise in particular application-infrastructure technologies not required.
The Enterprise Application Integration trends are as follows:
- Point-to- point Interfaces
- Integration with Packaged integration brokers