In case you haven't noticed, there's a lot of activity surrounding application integration these days. This makes a lot of sense, considering the whole idea of network architectures is to move data from one area to another. But what good is that if you still have to manually key that data from app to app?
There's still some debate, though, as to the best way to implement application integration. This article in eCommerce Times does a good job of spelling out the two main technical approaches -- core module integration or the all-in-one super suite -- giving the pros and cons of each method and their major supporters in the vendor community.
The only flaw in the eCommerce Times piece is that it fails to mention the latest entrant into the super suite category: the Application Integration Architecture (AIA) that is part of Oracle's overall Fusion platform. Released with great fanfare earlier this month, the system seeks to establish a series of business process flows, dubbed process integration packs (PIPs), which can span a range of Oracle and third-party applications.
For many firms, however, the challenge is to find a way to integrate a broad swath of legacy applications, preferably without having to undergo a major systems re-architecture. One of the ways to do that is through XML conversion. DataDirect Technologies is offering that approach with its line of XML converter systems. The latest version adds .NET conversion capabilities.
And a British company called Blue Prism has developed what seems to be an automated integration engine that relies on a "robotic" approach that eliminates the need to write specialized code for integrated business processes. Company execs say the Automate V3 is a faster alternative to traditional integration systems, particularly when it comes to heterogeneous legacy/target applications.
With app integration emerging as a major component of service-oriented architectures, it is doubtful there will be any shortage of alternatives in the months and years ahead. The trick will be finding the right balance between the architecture of the past and the business needs of the future.