When I think about integration, the first thing that comes to mind is application to application integration (A2A). Gartner states that application integration aims to make independently designed application systems work together. Their definition applies to my interpretation of A2A integration, which is the connection of disparate applications both inside and outside the firewall, regardless of location (including the Cloud). This interpretation includes integration between a few or many applications and encompasses all integration aspects such as, communications and messaging, translation and transformation, routing, process automation, data access and even extends to application access. This can apply to scenarios such as transaction replication or process activation across applications, providing web access to legacy applications and publishing information to mobile devices. Most of the integrations between these disparate applications used to occur by means of proprietary APIs, messaging or a combination of both. This can still be the case, but a larger percentage of integration today is mediated by integration middleware or via web services. Continue reading
Many enterprise integration solutions meet the mark at implementation time, and even adequately provide the tools needed to monitor and maintain the day to day activities. But, what happens when unexpected changes occur at the document level? Sometimes the metadata that defines a document’s structure and content changes. This can happen for a number of reasons including different trading partner specifications, application interface upgrades and back-end system replacements. More often than not, the changes are minimal and localized to the existing document. The syntax remains the same, but there may be additions or deletions to the existing structure, such as the addition of a content model to an XML document. There may be changes to individual elements, such as the data types, lengths, etc. In such cases, the map may need to be updated, but can usually be handled rather quickly with minimal effort.
Once in a while, the structure of the document will change. Again, the syntax stays the same, but an entire section may be relocated creating a different hierarchical structure, such as completely relocating an XML content model to a different section of the document. This type of change can be a bit more complicated to address. Most of the time, the maps associated to the altered structure are also broken and have to be corrected. There is generally more effort required to address this type of change than the former. And occasionally, the entire document syntax changes, such as a conversion from a flat file interface to an XML interface. In this case, a great deal of effort is required to address it because the associated maps have to be completely reworked and in some cases recreated. The impact of this change can be felt in many areas of the implementation and can impact business operations. Continue reading