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Enterprise Application Integration

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EAI expert Laura Brown discusses the challenges that today's businesses face when it comes to application integration.

EAI expert Laura Brown discusses the challenges that today's businesses face when it comes to application integration.

Enterprise Application Integration

By Laura Brown

Many companies find that today's business environment presents challenges that require new tools and new methods of solving problems stemming from integration issues. For computer systems to actually deliver on the promises of automation—faster, better ways of doing business than ever before—these integration issues must be addressed.

The need for this new type of integration is becoming increasingly apparent as more companies get more of their processes automated. Sooner or later, they find that they have a need for solutions they can apply to applications operating across the entire enterprise.

What Is EAI?

The market often defines Enterprise Application Integration as the use of middleware that enables the rapid integration of legacy, packaged, and new applications into new business solutions. This definition can be broadened by removing the reference to any specific implementation, and by including concerns that reach beyond specific application solutions to pre-defined business needs. A meaningful definition must also include the significant fact that EAI addresses the context for application systems, as well as the systems themselves.

Traditional forms of integration typically place the emphasis on the computer systems and their internals and how to combine the technical components for efficiency. EAI includes the collaboration of technical components, but shifts the emphasis to the context in which those computer systems must perform, including the business goals and models. Thus, a more comprehensive definition of EAI reads as follows:

Enterprise Application Integration is the process of placing hardware, software, and business process in context so that when they are combined, the interfaces between components become seamless, information can be easily shared, and systems working together can achieve synergies.

To better understand this definition, I will break it down and discuss each idea in turn.

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