The IT world is continuously evolving, and so should your software. Functional requirements for today’s applications are getting higher and higher. Software integration is a modern solution to this arising issue.
Integration in software engineering means combining software parts (so-called subsystems) into one system. Integrated systems demonstrate better performance comparing to the sum of all independent ones. What is more important, a holistic application delivers greater functional significance. It’s more convenient to distribute and use. Integrating is trending as never before these days. More and more mergeable systems appear on the Internet. Therefore, connecting with them is vital.
There are four main methods of software integration:
In this case, the integrating process is, basically, creating interconnections between all subsystems (each subsystem is connected to every other one). The diagram of a complete system with connections looks like a star or a plate of spaghetti (it depends on the number of connections).
This approach is efficient because reusing functionality is flexible enough. However, adding new subsystems leads to an exponential increase in cost and time needed.
This method is based on creating a subsystem for communication purposes. Why is it effective? Implementing Enterprise Service Bus View reduces the number of connections per each subsystem to one. Every part of the system communicates with other parts through the ESB which translates one interface into another.
This is an extremely flexible approach. It’s possible to add, replace or modify any part of the system without affecting the others. You just need to implement the appropriate interface between a new subsystem and the ESB.
Horizontal integration isn’t a cost-effective method for small systems. Nevertheless, take into account that the number of subsystems tends to grow as time passes. It gets cheaper and cheaper to expand the system compared to other integration approaches. So, it is safe to say that it is highly efficient in the long run.
This method is completely opposite in comparison with the previous one. Create functional entities for subsystems and you will “vertically integrate” them. It’s a perfect short-term solution. Quick and cheap at first glance, the vertical integration approach forces you to implement another silo View to scale the system. It’s impossible to bring new functionality by reusing existing subsystems.
It’s a drastically different methodology based on the development of the application-independent data format. It’s called Enterprise Application Integration View.
The idea is to create a common format insignificantly different from the application-specific one. The EAI system converts between these two across an enterprise with the help of the data transformation service.
Just like with any complicated process, a proper software integration has six stages:
The first step of integration is to discover and list out all core and subtle specifications of systems you are going to integrate. There is no one-fits-all solution for every case. Every single company is different in its approaches.
What are these subsystems for? How can they perform a coordinated action? A clear understanding of these aspects will help you plan the upcoming works.
Is software integration feasible? What is the best way to organize it? When you can see the whole picture of the company’s needs, you can analyze its current condition and find the way to improve it. You should do a thorough research to identify the perfect solution.
This phase is about creating a big stack of blueprints and calculations. Literally. You’ve come up with an idea of the solution. Now it’s time to visualize it. The visual concept and exact calculations are the most efficient way to share your plan with others.
When everything is ready for development, the most challenging stage begins. Create and refine the system, run the necessary tests. Be extremely attentive to the details. As it is the longest stage, it’s most likely to be full of mistakes that need to be fixed.
Have you run hundreds of tests without finding a single drawback? Can you call your system flawless? Then it’s time to deploy it! Install the software and set it up.
The software integration system is up and running. Congratulations. However, before you forget about the project, it’s essential to make sure everything works as planned. Sometimes the deployment results may differ from the ones expected, as sometimes tests don’t cover all of the work aspects. Only when everything is running like clockwork, you can allow yourself to name it a complete solution.
We can hardly deny that integration of software applications in real life is harsher than its description on paper. Humans tend to misunderstand, to make mistakes, to fail.
From the very beginning, you should verify every step you make. Misinterpreted the company’s demands? Consider that you’ve worked on the wrong system for free. A miscalculation in the management plan? Be ready for a full redesign of your architecture. Not careful enough during the development phase? Don’t be surprised when your system crashes right after the deployment.
Every mistake can be fatal. A strict adherence to the software development integration plan is the solution. Sometimes it doesn’t seem binding. That’s when a professional shows himself or herself. Every point is obligatory. Every recheck isn’t excessive.
Software integration is a complex yet necessary process in nowadays IT-realities. Profound knowledge and strict discipline are the main keys to your success in this challenging but manageable task.
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