Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) is the unrestricted sharing of data and business processes throughout the networked applications or data sources in an organization since early software programs in areas such as inventory control, human resources, sales automation, and database management were designed to run independently, with no interaction between the systems.
Categories of Enterprise Application Integration
There are four major categories of EAI
- database linking- databases share information and duplicate information as needed;
- application linking– the enterprise shares business processes and data between two or more applications;
- data warehousing– data is extracted from a variety of data sources and channeled into a specific database for analysis; and
- common virtual system – the pinnacle of EAI; all aspects of enterprise computing are tied together so that they appear as a unified application.
Why does Enterprise Application Integration important?
We know that enterprise businesses use a very broad range of applications. One application to operate a supply chain, another to operate human resource management, one more application to operate customer relationship management, and so on.
It is good to divide the large responsibility into small modules. It benefits the organization also. It also helps the people who handle the individual modules to focus on growth and stability.
But the problem is there will be no connectivity between these applications. Hence sharing important information across the organization will not happen.
Enterprise application integration helps to solve this problem by integrating applications and hence shares the data across the organization.
Objectives of EAI
- Vendor independence: Rules of specific business applications or business policies need not to be re-implemented even if one of the business application is replaced with a different vendor’s application
- Data integration: Ensures consistent information in multiple systems
- Common facade: Users need not learn different software applications because it provides a consistent software application access interface
Benefits of Enterprise Application Integration
- It increases the speed of communication between Enterprise apps
- It can be hosted by the organization on-premise with its own data center or it can be hosted in a private cloud server
- EAI allows the information to flow between the different software programs within a company. It integrates data and avoids the repetition of collecting and storing data.
- It helps to take less time to search for complete, up-to-date information.
- It allows individuals and departments to collaborate effectively.
- EAI helps to automate the process. For example, the information in the CRM can be integrated with the E-mail management to send messages to the customer based on the demand.
- It enables new applications to work effectively with already existed applications.
- It enables the organization to identify and react quickly to opportunities.
Drawbacks of Enterprise Application Integration(EAI)
- It fails when the person who manages the implementation of EAI is not dynamic.
- It needs more technical and skilled persons
- It is not a tool, it is a system and it should be implemented as a tool
- There will be a chance of losing details
- Because of lack of consent on interface design, you need to put extra effort to map between systems data requirements
- It is necessary to have clear accountability because all departments have different requirements
Application Integration tools
Many application integration tools are available in the market. Some important tools are
- Tibco software
- Dell Bhoomi
Most common type enterprise applications are as follows
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
- Enterprise Messaging System
- Payment Processing
- Email marketing platform
- Service desk applications
- Customer relationship management (CRM) tools
- Content management system
- Business continuity planning
- Business analytics and intelligence platform
- Accounting system
- Automated billing system
Components of Enterprise Application Integration System
Many components have merged to initiating communication between enterprise applications. Hence there are no standardized components for enterprise application integration. Although it has some methodologies to do data transfer and facilitate communication between software programs.
- With the small number of applications, point-to-point integration is effective. But when the number of applications increases it is difficult to program and maintain the protectorate to keep the system fully integrated.
- In a hub and spoke model, all the enterprise applications, and captures are connected to a central hub. It re-formats and decides where that data should be distributed.
- To run away from the problems caused by the hub and spoke approach a new model evolved. That is bus architecture. It runs without manpower interference.
- Middleware is a tool that sits between the operating system and the application user interface.
- Microservice is the latest and standard EAI that deployed in the cloud.
Get more definitions about enterprise application integration (EAI) and other ERP related terms here.