A Business Leaders Guide to Enterprise Integration

Why Enterprise Integration is a Key Component of Successful Digital Transformations

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What is enterprise integration? 

Fundamental to any successful digital transformation is enterprise integration

the process of using IT-enabled systems to integrate business applications into a one centralized, interconnected ecosystem. As defined by RedHat, “Enterprise integration encompasses the technologies, processes, and team structures that connect data, applications, and devices from everywhere in your IT organization.” 

However, make no mistake. Enterprise integration isn’t an IT problem, it’s a business imperative. Emerging technologies such as Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and advanced analytics require high levels of integration and interoperability. Furthermore, by consolidating business apps and data into one centralized hub, users can quickly and easily find what they’re looking for. 

In addition, according to Cleo's 2021 State of Ecosystem and Application Integration Repor, 74% of companies surveyed claimed to have lost more revenue due to integration issues in 2020 than in 2019.

Interoperability & Cloud Migration

Organizations are increasingly turning towards cloud solutions to support enterprise integrations. By migrating data, applications, and other business digital assets from legacy, on-premise infrastructure to the cloud, organizations can build one unified platform and data ecosystem.

However doing so is much, much easier said than done. One major challenge associated with cloud is interoperability - the basic ability of different computerized systems to readily connect and exchange information with one another, in either implementation or access, without restriction. When systems are interoperable, they have the ability to not only share information, but to interpret incoming data and present it as it was received, preserving its original context.

API Management & Middleware 

An API (Application Programming Interface) is a set of functions that allows applications to access data and interact with external software components, operating systems, or microservices. In other words, it’s a software interface that allows front-end systems to communicate with back-end systems. For example, let’s say you’re browsing a hotel website for available rooms. It’s APIs that are responsible for showing you what rooms are available, when and for how much. APIs are also doing all of the leg work when you hit “book now” and the reservation goes into your shopping cart. 

Middleware, enables one or more kinds of communication or connectivity between two or more applications or application components in a distributed network. In other words, they connect multiple systems that may not otherwise be able to speak to each other thus enabling integration if not interoperability. 

Going back to the example before, let’s say you go ahead and book your room. That data could then be passed into a middleware system, and then distributed to an ERP, accounting software, and a customer service tool. 

Though developing middleware is more difficult and time consuming than APIs, it is the more powerful tool. Using middleware, organizations can create enterprise integration hubs - a standardized way to connect all applications, application components, business processes and back-end data sources in the extended enterprise.


What EiPaaS Solutions?

Integration platforms as a service (iPaaS) are cloud-based platforms that connect a variety of disparate systems, technologies, and applications. In other words, it’s a centralized platform to integrate, manage, and monitor all cloud-based enterprise applications.

 Gartner considers an iPaaS solution to be enterprise iPaaS (EiPaaS) if it “is designed to support enterprise-class integration projects; that is, projects requiring, high availability/disaster recovery (HA/DR), security, service-level agreements (SLAs) and technical support from the provider."

According to Frends, “An eiPaaS solution is typically used for cloud service integration (CSI), application-to-application integration (A2A), business-to-business integration (B2B) scenarios and, increasingly, for mobile application integration (MAI) and IoT integration scenarios. Rather than single use-case point-to-point solutions traditionally associated with a regular iPaaS solution.”

One of the benefits of EiPaaS is that it allows for integration flows to be built and deployed directly between the cloud and the enterprise within the cloud. This reduces if not entirely eliminates the need for middleware installation. 


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