System integration is the process of combining two or more computer systems into one in order to act as a coordinated whole. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), a type of software interface that provides a service to other software, are the most common means of exchanging information. Ventureaxis has years of experience in both creating and using APIs across a wide range of technologies, including REST APIs, SOAP APIs, EDI, Rosettanet, XML, JSON and BJSON etc. From our sports experience we also have extensive experience in dealing with high volumes of real-time data that needs to be processed and turned into statistics with sub-second turnaround times.
The fundamental motivation for businesses to adopt system integration is to increase efficiency and improve the quality of their operations; speed up information flows; and reduce operational costs. Manual data entry is avoided, as are the errors inherent with this procedure, by having one computer system electronically send data to another. Labour expenses can be reduced since fewer workers are needed to analyse the data and the data becomes instantaneous or real-time depending on the system interface. System integration enables the business organisation to communicate with third-party entities such as consumers, suppliers, and stakeholders in order to achieve common goals. System integration has a significant impact on a business's success and return on investment.
System integration can be divided into three categories based on application:
Many computer systems, such as supply chain management, enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, business intelligence, payroll, and human resource systems, are generally unable to communicate with one another in order to share information or business rules. This lack of communication results in inefficiencies such as the inability to reuse information processing functions and the redundancy of identical data in multiple locations. The process of connecting such systems within a single organisation in order to streamline and automate business operations is known as enterprise application integration. Enterprise application integration is typically implemented by building a software system with associated hardware components that act in the middle to enable integration of systems across an enterprise.
The technical method used to combine data from many sources into a unified, single view of the data is referred to as data integration. Data integration enables the collection of data from a variety of sources, as well as the aggregation and transformation of that data into a central location for interactive reporting and other business activities. In general, data integration architects create software systems that automate the process of linking and routing data from source systems to target systems. This method is useful in a wide variety of situations, such as combining research results from different domains and merging databases from two similar businesses.
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a process of data transfer that allows one party to send data to another party electronically rather than on paper in a standardized format. It's a fundamental business-to-business process. Trading partners are business entities that conduct transactions electronically. EDI allows trading partners to exchange a variety of business documents, but the most common ones are purchase orders and invoices. EDI keeps costs down for businesses by replacing information flows that involve a lot of human interaction and paper documents.
There are four common methods of system integration where different subsystems are integrated into one:
Horizontal integration is a method of system integration in which a specialised subsystem communicates with other subsystems. The specialised subsystem is called Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), which acts as a translator and connector between the subsystems. This reduces the number of connections (interfaces) per subsystem to one. This reduces integration costs while also providing extreme flexibility. Using this method, it is possible to completely replace one subsystem with another subsystem that provides similar functionality but exports different interfaces. However, if something goes wrong with one subsystem or the ESB, it could affect the entire system.
Vertical integration integrates subsystems based on their functionality by defining functional entities, also known as silos. The advantage of this method is that the integration is completed quickly and only involves the necessary vendors. Thus, this method is less expensive in the short term. However, it doesn't permit any flexibility or change. For each new subsystem, a new silo must be created, and when there are too many silos in the system, it becomes slow.
The star integration method, also known as the point-to-point method, connects each subsystem independently from all of the other subsystems. This enables broader communication without the use of any ESB. However, if one subsystem requires modification, the others must as well. When more subsystems are added, the time and costs required to integrate the systems grow exponentially. The flexibility of reusing functionality means this method often appears to be preferable from a feature standpoint. When there aren't too many subsystems in the system, this is an excellent method.
A new data language/format is created in common data format integration, which is a universal format that all subsystems use to transfer and process data with one another. This method is used to avoid having multiple adapters for each subsystem in a system. All subsystems are fluent, which means they can communicate easily with one another and independently. This integration challenge necessitates a high level of computer programming expertise.
Connecting different systems can be accomplished in a variety of ways. In a nutshell, we'll go over the most common ways.
The most popular and straightforward technique for connecting two systems is through application programming interfaces (APIs). API connectivity allows systems to share data and communicate with one another through network connectivity without the need for humans to intervene. APIs enable the exchange of data and functionality in a defined format, allowing seamless operation and performance across systems regardless of the business or the size of the company. APIs are available for practically all integration projects, and APIs can handle a wide range of data. Building APIs is time-intensive and requires expertise in programming.
A webhook is a method for a system to provide real-time data to other systems through network connectivity. Unlike an API integration, which polls the other system on a regular basis, a webhook is set up once and then only delivers data when a certain event occurs. Businesses do not need to set data collection times inside the integration because information is updated whenever an event occurs. Webhooks do not allow for data to be inserted, deleted, or updated in another system. They simply allow data to be received. As a result, they can't be used alone for more complex integration scenarios.
The practice of combining two or more systems and/or services to automate a process or synchronize data in real-time is known as system or service orchestration. This strategy tries to improve production and information flow by consolidating recurring procedures. Orchestrations allow users to manage all of the systems involved at the same time, allowing for complete automation across all subsystems. This strategy, like APIs, necessitates substantial programming knowledge.
Data exchange between systems has been traditionally done via file transfers. However, network bandwidth and reliability have increased to the point where request-response and message-based communication between systems via the Internet is now widespread. The following are some examples of common data formats.
Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a markup language and file format that can be used to store, transmit, and reconstruct arbitrary data. It specifies a set of rules for encoding documents in a human-readable and machine-readable format.
Some data can be easily represented in plain text as single elements with a line structure, key-value pairs, or comma-separated values (CSV).
Binary format is one that stores file information in the form of ones and zeros. The primary benefit of binary formats is their speed. In general, binary formats are 10 to 100 times faster than other formats. Some binary formats are PDF, JPEG, PNG, XLSB, NetCDF etc.
Document standards are an important component of electronic data interchange (EDI). The most commonly used EDI file format standards are ANSI ASC X12, EDIFACT, TRADACOMS, VDA, UBL, etc. Although EDI documents may appear to be a random collection of letters and symbols, all EDI messages adhere to very strict rules. Sending documents in accordance with an EDI standard ensures that the machine receiving the message can correctly interpret the information because each data element is in its proper location.
The amount of data collected by a system to be analysed and processed is referred to as the data volume. The larger the volume of data, the more distinct and different processing technologies are required in comparison to traditional storage and processing capabilities.
Companies like Facebook and Google, for example, handle a never-ending influx of data from billions of users. "Big data" is a term used to describe this level of information consumption. To reveal in-depth information for decisions, high velocity, high volume, and high variety of data must be processed using advanced tools such as analytics and algorithms. As a result, sophisticated data integration efforts have become critical to many organizations' operations.
The two main methods for processing information during system integration are batch-based data processing and real-time data processing. The concept of real-time data integration is the idea of processing information as soon as it is obtained. Batch data-based integration, on the other hand, entails storing all data received until a certain period of time and then processing it as a batch. Batch processing in data integration entails the following:
Real-time data processing is the processing of data in a short period of time to produce near-instantaneous results. Because the processing is done as the data is inputted or an event occurs, a continuous stream of input data is required to provide a continuous output. Stream processing is another term for real-time data processing. For real-time data processing, there are two routines:
Talk to an experienced and trusted partner, such as Ventureaxis. Without obligation we can help you assess the scope of your project and assist in determining a realistic budget and plan of action on how to reach your goals. We can help deliver projects that qualify for Research and Development Tax credits (R&D Tax Credits) which can help significantly with the cost of certain projects.