Companies now depend on a larger number of applications than ever before to conduct their operations. A recent survey showed that the mean number of Software as a Service (SaaS) applications utilized by businesses globally has gone up from 8 in 2015 to 110 in 2021, representing an enormous growth of nearly 1,300% in six years. This does not even include any stationary on-premises applications that businesses employ.
Applications will remain an integral part of business activities going forward. Software application integration is a process that allows businesses to maximize their IT investments, reduce costs, and increase efficiency. With the right application integration solution, businesses can enhance their operational performance, improve customer service, and gain new insights into their data.
What is application integration?
Gartner defines application integration as the process of connecting different applications so that data can be shared and accessed from a single source. This means that information is not stored in one application but rather moves between applications. It allows companies to save money by reducing the number of systems they need to implement and maintain. It also makes it easier to share information between departments and find data more easily.
Application integration solutions can be implemented to connect both on-premise and cloud-based systems. The most common applications used for integration are business intelligence (BI), customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and other financial systems. Data is transferred between systems via APIs (application programming interfaces) or EDI (electronic data interchange). This enables organizations to enrich their data by combining it from different sources and makes it easier to manage information, automate tasks, and streamline processes. By integrating applications, businesses can increase their efficiency, reduce manual data entry, and save time and money.
Approaches to application integration
As the number of applications available on the market rises, there is a pressing requirement to interconnect them. Therefore, various integration methods have been developed, some of which have been utilized for a long time, while others are relatively new.
The most basic form of system integration is point-to-point integration. If two programs need to share data, coders can make a unique integration to let the applications connect to each other. Unfortunately, this kind of integration poses many issues, mostly with scalability. Companies tend to modify or add new applications and systems frequently, and their requirements from those applications also alter. Writing a connection for every fresh program or use case is not feasible in the long run. When you transition your applications to a cloud environment, software-as-a-service firms typically issue updates two or three times each year. This necessitates your IT division to continuously conduct regression tests and rectify any issues caused by the changes.
Enterprise application integration (EAI) and enterprise service bus (ESB)
Instead of individual point-to-point integrations, EAI adopts a hub-and-spoke approach. The integration application works as the hub, while the other applications are connected to it through spokes. EAI provides the ability for organizations to automate their business processes with near real-time communication between applications.
Presently, Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) is the most widely used answer for EAI, which is used for directing messages among producer and consumer applications. This methodology is suitable for joining together internal applications in larger companies. Unfortunately, it doesn’t enable connecting those applications to cloud and edge devices with ease.
Integration platform as a service iPaaS
An iPaaS is an integration platform that runs on the cloud and its purpose is to join together data, applications, and processes. This platform streamlines the integration process and allows users to easily link applications and data that are distributed across multiple places.
As the number of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) programs has surged, there has been an increased demand for simpler and more self-service approaches to link and oversee all the information from them. iPaaS provides a useful tool for a variety of circumstances in which it is necessary to transfer, transport, or reproduce data between applications inside a business. It offers a speedy, simple, and adaptable way to link your programs and data, and doesn’t require any programming knowledge.
Application integration tools
When managing company operations, various kinds of data are needed for different business processes. Application integration helps make these processes run smoothly.
Benefits of application integration
When applications are integrated, it reduces the chance of having multiple, conflicting copies of the same data. Without this integration, the applications lack the ability to communicate and instead, create data silos that impede scalability, visibility, and the ability to trace where the data comes from and how it has been adjusted. All in all, this creates an unstable data ecosystem.
Besides getting rid of data barriers, a well-executed application integration solution can provide numerous other advantages to a business:
How to choose an application integration solution
With lots of products in the market offering app integration tools, it can be challenging to opt for the right one for your business. As you review the different options, here are some important points to take into account:
Get started with application integration
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