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Lesson 8Enterprise application integration
ObjectiveExplain the function of Enterprise Application Integration.

What is Enterprise Application Integration?

Enterprise Application Integration, often referred to as EAI, is a set of late 1990s and Web-era, high-end integration product suites. EAI is a packaged variety of integration technologies, tooled for eBusiness-specific solutions. While EAI packages can vary, they share common characteristics: a suite of standards-based integration products, design and deployment management features, and pre-built adapters to integrate popular applications. The table below explains why these characteristics are beneficial:
Characteristic Explanation Resulting benefit
Suite of Integration Products EAI products bring together many integration techniques, namely XML, data integration via ODBC/JDBC, publish-and-subscribe style messaging, and legacy integration. This obviates the need to implement several different technologies.
Design and deployment management Often integration development provides a different set of development and deployment management challenges than typical software development and deployment. These products help organizations handle integration more quickly and effectively on an on-going basis. Development is done in a more timely fashion, using tools more adept at the integration task. The deployment and on-going management is performed with fewer bugs, and higher performance.
Pre-built adapters for popular applications Pre-built adapters mean that much of the work has already been done to integrate the most common applications. Though these adapters may require fine tuning, the tend to use common techniques, meaning that even the fine-tuning experience can be leveraged in the future. They decrease time-to-market and increase reliability of integration between key applications.

Extensible Markup Language

XML: The savior of integration and eBusiness?

XML: The savior of integration and eBusiness?

While we previously mentioned XML as a new kind of content standard that can be handled by certain browsers, XML also offers incredible flexibility that can be used in integration. XML offers an extremely easy way for programs and people to map content, and to turn unstructured content into structured content, both of which are key requirements for many types of integration, particularly for cross-organization (B2B) integration. XML, however, is not quite a savior for B2B integration. The types of process intensive and business logic processing capabilities offered by components, objects, message brokers, and workflow cannot be ignored within the context of eBusiness integration. XML does not natively provide for process integration and does not inherently contain workflow features. Still, XML offers an important layer of glue that can potentially be used between the various object and process oriented integration technologies. In addition, the public posting of certain industry-specific and transaction-specific XML definitions, on sites such as BizTalk, oasis.org, and rosettanet.org, are leading to highly flexible "standards" for B2B interchanges. While these "standards" are actually too flexible to be true standards, they do pave the way to eventually become the de facto standards for B2B eBusiness.

EAI considerations

Standards: EAI offer a rich and varied set of products, and many vendors have done a good job of integrating these products, but ultimately, the expertise of programmers is required in order to apply EAI features. Therefore, EAI products that package their features in easy to digest form, in terms of offering development, management, and monitoring, are best to pursue. Interoperability: It's also important to know that some of these products contain proprietary approaches for connecting various applications. With any EAI implementation, some programming is required to customize the integration platform to the particular business and to optimize the performance of the integration.


EAI Characteristics and Explanation

EAI Characteristic Explanation Resulting benefit
Suite of Integration Products EAI products bring together many integration techniques, namely XML, data integration via ODBC/JDBC, publish-and-subscribe style messaging, and legacy integration. This obviates the need to implement several different technologies.
Design and deployment management Often integration development provides a different set of development and deployment management challenges than typical software development and deployment. These products help organizations handle integration more quickly and effectively on an on-going basis. Development is done in a more timely fashion, using tools more adept at the integration task. The deployment and on-going management is performed with fewer bugs, and higher performance.
Pre-built adapters for popular applications Pre-built adapters mean that much of the work has already been done to integrate the most common applications. Though these adapters may require fine tuning, the tend to use common techniques, meaning that even the fine-tuning experience can be leveraged in the future. They decrease time-to-market and increase reliability of integration between key applications.

EAI Consideration Explanation
Standards EAI offers a rich and varied set of products, and many vendors have done a good job of integrating these products, but ultimately, the expertise of programmers is required in order to apply EAI features. Therefore, EAI products that package their features in easy to digest form, in terms of offering development, management, and monitoring, are best to pursue.
Interoperability It’s important to know that some of these products contain proprietary approaches for connecting various applications. With any EAI implementation, some programming is required to customize the integration platform to the particular business and to optimize the performance of the integration.
The next lesson looks into solutions that help to integrate workflow. EAI: A packaged variety of integration technologies tooled for eBusiness specific solutions.