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Common system integration practices compared

Written by
Carla Hetherington
Published on
May 31, 2024

Modern companies use anywhere from two to hundreds of systems to ensure the optimal functioning of their organization. However, these systems often operate in silos since they do not share data with each other, creating inefficiencies and hindering productivity. This is where system integration comes in. In this blog, we discuss what system integration is, explore its importance, and compare common integration practices to help businesses choose the best approach for their organization.

What is system integration?

System integration is the process of connecting different IT systems, applications, and software to function as a coordinated whole. At the most basic level, system integration is data integration since it enables disparate software to communicate and share data seamlessly, providing a unified view of information across an organization. The level of integration complexity can vary depending on the size, type, and needs of an organization.

Why is system integration important?

As mentioned above, system integration is vital to ensure a company’s internal processes and diverse technology are interconnected and deliver the maximum value. The importance of system integration can be reflected in several ways:

Improved operational efficiency: Integration eliminates the need for manual data entry and reduces redundancy, enabling smoother workflows and more efficient operations. This saves time and reduces the risk of errors.

Faster decision-making: Integrating different systems means data will no longer be scattered across siloed storages but will instead be synchronized across all systems. As such, data will no longer have to be manually downloaded and exported since users will have access to a holistic view of all information, enabling them to extract valuable business insights and leverage analytics to accelerate decision-making processes.

Enhanced data accuracy: With integrated systems, data is consistently updated across all platforms, ensuring that every department has access to the latest and most accurate information. This improves decision-making and strategic planning.

Better customer experience: When customer data is synchronized across all systems, businesses can provide a more personalized and responsive service. This leads to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Cost savings: Streamlined operations and automated processes result in lower operational costs. Additionally, system integration can reduce the need for multiple software licenses and maintenance fees.

Common system integration practices

Once we have touched upon the main advantages of system integration, it is useful to define the common system integration practices. These include:

1. Point-to-point integration

Definition: Point-to-point integration involves connecting two applications with custom code in order to enable them to exchange data and services. These integrations require businesses to employ senior developers or third-party integration experts to develop, manage, and troubleshoot, and they can only be understood by coding experts.

Pros:

  • Simple to implement for small-scale integrations.
  • Cost-effective for connecting a limited number of systems.

Cons:

  • Scalability issues: As the number of systems grows, the complexity increases exponentially.
  • Maintenance challenges: Changes in one system can require updates in all connected systems, leading to higher maintenance costs.

2. Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)

Definition: An ESB is a middleware technology that enables seamless communication and data exchange between various applications and systems within an organization. It acts as a central hub, facilitating reliable and scalable integration across different platforms, regardless of their underlying technologies or protocols.

Pros:

  • Centralized control: Simplifies management and monitoring of data flows.
  • High flexibility and scalability.

Cons:

  • Complexity: Requires significant expertise to implement and manage.
  • Higher upfront costs and ongoing maintenance.

4. iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service)

Definition: iPaaS is a cloud-based or cloud-native solution that provides tools and services for integrating applications and data across different environments. Being API-driven, an iPaaS is either a no-code or low-code integration platform. It provides a web-based, user-friendly interface to create, monitor, and manage application integrations without the need for custom code. As a side note, it is worth mentioning that an iPaaS falls under the category of a middleware integration system.

Pros:

  • Ease of use: Often includes pre-built connectors and drag-and-drop interfaces.
  • Scalability: Can easily handle growing integration needs.
  • Cost-effective: Subscription-based pricing reduces upfront costs and includes regular updates and support.

Cons:

  • Dependency on the provider: Long-term reliance on the iPaaS vendor.
  • Potential data security concerns, depending on the provider's security measures.

What is the best way to integrate different systems?

Selecting the best integration approach depends on several factors, including the size and complexity of your IT landscape, budget, and specific business needs. To make an informed decision and ensure you are following integration best practices, you should first assess your integration requirements and the systems you need to connect. Afterward, you should evaluate the level of scalability a certain integration approach provides you with to ensure the chosen method can accommodate future growth. Lastly, you should take into account your budget and ongoing maintenance costs, as well as prioritize security to ensure the integration approach adheres to your organization’s data security and compliance requirements.

Interested in learning how you can optimize your system integration strategy? Book a demo with one of our specialists.

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