Enterprise Real-time Integration Platform


 

Seamless integration of Enterprise applications as well as Business Partners and third parties is the most common and essential requirement for any Organization. Additionally, Organizations are increasingly adopting Mobility and Cloud trends to participate in extended digital ecosystem of collaborative offerings and value added services, thus creating even more demand for real-time integration.

The essentially means that Organizations have to deal with various kinds of real-time integration use cases. These uses cases will typically fall in one of the following broad categories.

  • Integration of Enterprise applications
    • Messaging Based Integration
    • Traditional Integration (commonly known as EAI)
    • SOA based integration
  • API based real-time integration with partners and third parties
  • Real-time data exchange between Trusted Business Partners, with B2B exchanges and value-added networks. (commonly known as B2B integration)

Various platforms/solutions are available from leading integration vendors to address above integration scenarios/use cases. For building effective integration solutions, Organizations should clearly assess each and every integration use case and use appropriate platform to address the requirement. Let’s understand when to use which real-time integration platform.

Messaging

Use Case:

Scenarios where Enterprise applications want to exchange data in a mutually agreed format in an asynchronous manner and where guaranteed delivery of messages with zero tolerance to data loss is the requirement (in case where receiving application is temporarily unavailable).

Applicable Data Exchange Pattern:

Applicable for fire-and-forget kind of data exchange scenarios (one way from source to target application) as well as for request-reply scenarios with appropriate design considerations.

Enabling Tools-Technologies:

Messaging System (JMS Compliant Messaging Server – JMS Provider).

Scope:

Within Enterprise – Messaging system is used for integrating homogeneous and heterogeneous Enterprise business applications.

Benefits:

  • Prevents applications from adopting each-other’s proprietary protocol.
  • Provides protocol decoupling so that modernization/upgrade of one application does not impact the peripheral applications interfacing with it via Messaging system. (does not impact in terms of protocol even though upgraded application is based on different programming language/platform).
  • Provides better scalability.

EAI

Use Case:

Scenarios where Enterprise applications want to exchange data with each other but they do have their own proprietary formats and semantic. And hence format and semantic transformation of data is the requirement.

Applicable Data Exchange Pattern:

Applicable for both fire and forget kind of data exchange scenarios as well as for request-reply scenarios as long as transformation of semantic and format is the requirement.

Enabling Tools-Technologies:

EAI/ESB Platform, adapters/connectors (application adapters and technology adapters).

Scope:

Within Enterprise – EAI/ESB platform is used for integrating heterogeneous Enterprise business applications. (May not be applicable for integrating homogeneous applications as they usually follow same semantic and format, and hence transformation is not required).

Benefits:

  • Prevents applications from adopting each-other’s proprietary format and semantic which otherwise creates a tight coupling between interfacing applications.
  • Provides format and semantic decoupling to applications, allowing them to continue using their own native format and semantic.
  • Modernization of one application does not impact the peripheral applications interfacing with it via EAI/ESB layer (as integration flows takes care of transforming source application message to target application’s semantic and format).

SOA

Use Case:

Scenarios where multiple consumers are interested in common functionalities or data. And hence exposing reusable Business Services is the requirement.

Applicable Data Exchange Pattern:

Service (based on SOAP) can be a one-way Business Service or two-way request-reply Business Service.

Enabling Tools-Technologies:

ESB Platform, adapters, SOA Governance (Registry-Repository), SOA Security, SOA Operational Mgmt tools.

Scope:

Within Enterprise – SOA approach is used for enabling and exposing Enterprise functionalities and data as reusable Business Services primarily for internal consumer applications. However, reusable services can be exposed to partners in Business-to-Business domain depending on the requirements.

Benefits:

  • Eliminates duplicate functionalities by consolidating them.
  • Provides consistent data to consumers through the notion of Golden Copies enabled as Data Services (information reusability).
  • Provides format and semantic decoupling to service consumer applications by exposing standards-based interoperable interface (SOAP with canonical messages).
  • Modernization of service provider application does not impact service consumer applications as service interface is standards-based through SOA layer.
  • Business Processes and products can be built faster by leveraging existing reusable services.

API

Use Case:

Scenarios where Organization’s capabilities (functionalities and data) are candidate for collaborative offerings or value added services. And hence exposing them to external network of Partners/Third Parties (in extended digital ecosystem) in a lightweight manner is the requirement.

Scenarios where Organization capabilities (functionalities and data) needs to be shared across Organization’s own digital channels for optimal customer engagement (usually through mobile apps).

Applicable Data Exchange Pattern:

Request-reply pattern based on RESTful APIs and JSON data interchange format.

Enabling Tools-Technologies:

API Management Platform – API Gateway, Develop Portal, Security Gateway, API analytics-reporting, API monitoring.

Scope:

Within and Outside Enterprise – API platform is used for exposing Private APIs to internal app developer communities who can build Enterprise digital applications, and for exposing Public APIs to external app developer communities who can build value added services and collaborative offerings (Public APIs can also be used by internal app developer communities wherever required).

Benefits:

  • Once Organization exposes lightweight RESTful APIs, collaborative offerings and value added services can be built quickly by partners/third parties, thus increasing Organization’s sale channels and improving revenue opportunities.
  • Faster development for Enterprise mobile and web apps leveraging RESTful APIs.

Business-to-Business Integration (B2B Integration)

Use Case:

Scenarios where exchange of industry standard structured Business Document between business partners is the requirement.

Scenarios which need well-defined process choreography between business partners enabling better control and visibility into public business processes.

Scenarios which involve exchange of data between Organizations through secure and value-added network (For example, SWIFT network enabling secure financial data exchange between financial institutions/banks).

Applicable Data Exchange Pattern:

Exchange of Business Documents can be one-way (with asynchronous response/ack) or two-way (with synchronous response/ack).

Enabling Tools-Technologies:

B2B Integration Platform – B2B sever, Partner Profile Management component, Security Gateway, Industry-specific packs/solutions (For example, SWIFT solution, RosettaNet process packs).

Scope:

Outside Enterprise – B2B integration platform is used for integration with Trusted Partners/Third Parties/B2B exchanges/value-added network.

Benefits:

  • Faster and cost effective onboarding of new Business partners due to adoption and alignment with Industry Standard B2B Processes and Business Document defined by respective industry consortium/committee. (No partner specific – proprietary interfaces, semantic standard and process protocols).

While individual platform can play role in addressing specific requirement, there is a clear synergy among these integration platforms when it comes to end-to-end flow of data. This will be very evident when we look at API reference architecture and case studies in the next month article (which involves use of multiple integration platforms to enable capabilities as APIs).

The overall topology of comprehensive end-to-end Real-time Integration Platform any Organization would need to support real-time data exchange/integration between Enterprise applications as well as with partners and third parties will look like below. The diagram shows the various key features supported by individual platform. (note: enterprise application landscape is shown for manufacturing domain as an example)

Enterprise Real-time Integration Platform

Enterprise Real-time Integration Platform

With more adoption of SaaS and cloud applications, Organizations will end-up having hybrid IT landscape where Business applications will be spread across on-premises datacenter and cloud infrastructure. And as discussed in ‘Hybrid IT and iPaaS’ article, Organizations may adopt iPaaS offerings to integrate cloud endpoints and cloud-to-on-premises endpoints. So, essentially iPaaS will add to the stack shown in the diagram above.

Please refer to ‘Publication Schedule’ page for upcoming articles.

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