Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) represents a significant evolution in integrating disparate islands of automation within the corporate enterprise. Prior to 1998, the dominate form of application integration was represented by middleware solutions. The traditional approach to middleware involves application and technology dependent solutions that offer limited business process visibility in a static implementation. Enterprise Application Integration, on the other hand, provides an application independent, business process oriented solution that is configurable across applications and that supports automated deployment. The core benefits offered by Enterprise Application Integration are:
The development roles and technical skills required for EAI differ from those required for traditional middleware integration and application development. Where traditional middleware solutions often require a significant investment in systems programming, EAI relies more on scripting languages and automation tools. The ability to apply automation tools, use fewer development staff, and complete complex integrations in less time reduces the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). New applications can be built by using a component-based approach that leverages reuse. EAI is providing an increasing middleware role in information technology by providing a solution that can be implemented quickly at less cost to the organization compared to traditional middleware approaches.
Business Forces Driving EAI
Enterprise Application Integration allows legacy applications to share both processes and data. Information technology budgets are better utilized since EAI requires shorter life cycles, reuses existing application processes and data, allows new applications to be developed faster. There are four types of Enterprise Application Integration:
User Interface Level EAI relies on screen mapping to integrate different applications together. This point-of-integration approach is not preferred, but is common with mainframe applications.
Method Level EAI leverages reuse of business logic by allowing a method in one application to be shared by other applications. Common implementations at this level include distributed objects, application servers, and transaction processing monitors. Methods may be shared centrally or accessed by different applications.
Application Interface Level EAI leverages application interfaces that are provided by an application. Applications such as SAP, PeopleSoft, and Baan provide API's that can be used for integration.
Data Level EAI relies on making data available in a data-store to multiple applications. Common implementations include replication, processing, transformation, and reformatting. Most organizations choose Data Level EAI as a starting point.
Middleware and EAI leverage message brokers, application servers, distributed objects, and distributed agents. Transactional Middleware is becoming a more popular solution that relies on method sharing to provide a reliable messaging framework.
e-Business is implemented by business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) solutions that typically leverage supply chain integration (SCI), customer relationship management (CRM), and web content management (WCM).
Enterprise Application Integration typically relies on a combined approach that uses many different technology solutions. The increasing complexity requires a new breed of Enterprise Architect and Enterprise Developer. Auldenfire Sweden has made significant investments in building a senior enterprise architectural practice. The Auldenfire Sweden Enterprise Systems Architecture Laboratory is the centerpiece around which our enterprise architectural practice is built.
The Enterprise Architect plays a key role in developing an EAI solution. Discipline and planning are essential for achieving a successful implementation. Integrating centralized mainframes, client-server technology, distributed computing, web-enabled applications, and packaged applications that have been implemented over many years within a geographically dispersed organization is a daunting task. Enterprise Architecture, with respect to EAI, is based on new technologies, new methodologies, and new architectural approaches. Numerous international standards bodies are struggling to develop a consensus approach to enterprise architecture. Auldenfire Sweden is committed to developing platform independent standards and is active in a number of leading standards organizations.
Auldenfire Sweden combines architectural standards development through active participation in standards organizations, real-world experience in implementing EAI solutions, EAI research and development, and an extensive EAI training and development program to provide our clients world-class Enterprise Architects.
Information Technology Architecture and Enterprise Application Integration are relatively new to many people. As a standards-based organization, Auldenfire Sweden has adopted industry standard definitions for using specific terms within our architectural practice. A brief summary of the key terms associated with IT Architecture and EAI is provided below:
Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) Defined
EAI Software Architect Defined
EAI Project Manager Defined
EAI Component Developer Defined
EAI Application Developer Defined
Enterprise Architecture is a rapidly growing field of specialization that requires a significant investment in training, professional development, and experience. Auldenfire Sweden's vision is to provide a world class Information Technology Enterprise Architecture practice. To meet this objective, Auldenfire Sweden has established the Enterprise Systems Architecture Laboratory (ESAL), which is staffed by senior enterprise architects dedicated to building leading edge solutions.
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