Understanding B2B Integration Patterns
Understanding B2B technologies can be confusing, especially when you take into account that every technology has been repositioned to fit into that space. Instead of trying to understand B2B integration (B2Bi) from a technology perspective, there may be another way. In this article, I suggest that the right way to make sense of B2Bi is by understanding what I call e-business integration patterns.
What Are Integration Patterns?
First, let's clarify what we mean by an e-business integration pattern. Webster's Dictionary defines a pattern as "a reliable sample of traits, acts, tendencies, or other observable characteristics." In software development, you may be familiar with the idea of "design patterns" or "process patterns." Design patterns systematically describe object designs that can be employed for a common set of problems. Similarly, process patterns describe proven methods and processes used in software development.
In practice, patterns are simply logical classifications of commonly recurring actions, techniques, designs, or organization. Integration patterns emerge from classification of standard solutions for integration scenarios. Each integration pattern defines a type of e-business integration problem, a solution technique, and parameters applied toward the solution.
I have identified seven patterns commonly encountered in e-business integration. Four of them are used in Enterprise Application Integration (EAI), while the other three are applied in B2Bi. I'll briefly discuss the three B2Bi patterns in the remainder of this article. The three patterns are these:
Direct application B2Bi
Data exchange B2Bi
B2B process integration