Mashups and EAI/EII
Enterprise application integration (EAI) is the practice of connecting corporate systems at the application level rather than at the data level. EAI solutions seek to streamline business processes and transactions, whereas mashups typically combine applications with the goal of providing new functionality. EAI tools rely on support for open standards such as Web Services or CORBA. If an application doesn't expose an API, one needs to be constructed programmatically. As systems and requirements evolve, there is an inevitably large carrying cost to maintain the custom integration code. When managed and funded correctly, EAI can provide the most rock-solid method of application integration. For business-critical solutions, EAI is recommended over mashups, which permit some fragility as a trade-off for the benefit of agility.
Enterprise information integration (EII) is a data management strategy for providing uniform access to all the data within an organization. The rise of "big box" stores that sell everything from baby clothing to car tires has demonstrated that patrons appreciate the convenience of one-stop shopping. Collecting data from multiple sources and providing a single point of access has similar appeal in the enterprise. EII is often easier to achieve than EAI because it simply attempts to unify information and not applications. If you think this approach sounds similar to a data mashup, you're correct. A mature EII implementation can provide new insights into data associations and facilitate rapid solution delivery. EII tools have historically focused only on back-end databases,21 which limits the range of information that can be collected. By comparison, mashups surpass EII in their ability to obtain data from both structured and unstructured sources.
The knowledge requirement for successfully applying EII technology is higher than that for mashups, but as with EAI the advantage is stability. You can measure the benefits of a complex EAI/EII project empirically by developing a quick mashup-based prototype (see "Quick Proof-of-Concept," Chapter 7). This effort may help determine whether the potential benefits justify the considerable cost and time required to carry out a formal implementation.