Integration Solutions for Unique Business Requirements
Integrating with cloud resources, trading partners (B2B integration), applications, and data resources might appear to be very different, but the middleware services and tools needed for integration in these domains are very similar. The characteristic differences between these integration domains reflect variations in business processes, resource interfaces, document types, and other components that implement domain-specific behaviors. But there is significant overlap in the kinds of integration components used.
Likewise, the components required to implement the same kinds of integration applications in different companies are identical. For example, two companies integrating purchase orders with different ERP application systems will use the same kinds of integration components, even though they employ different document formats, content validation rules, application interfaces, and partner responses.
However, while the integration components needed to solve integration problems in different contexts may be similar, they are rarely identical. For that reason, “out-of-the-box” business integration solutions almost always require customization. And customization is not a trivial exercise – it entails a large number of complex, low-level decisions and changes to configured objects. Every change becomes an opportunity to introduce errors that can delay projects or cause unforeseen problems after an application is deployed.
EXTOL recognizes that the integration solution requirements for your business are unique, even if some of your needs resemble those of other companies. That’s why EXTOL integration technology is designed to separate and isolate business- and environment-dependent solution elements from core integration tools and services. So you can focus on the things that make your business different, without worrying the details of process management, resource connections, scalability or any number of other underlying technology concerns.
The EXTOL solution includes customizable integration components to get you started. But it also includes a pattern-sharing repository and design-time automation tools that slash implementation time and reduce errors. And to help you meet tight deadlines with limited staff, EXTOL offers a broad range of Services to deliver, deploy, manage, and support your integration applications, and accelerate delivery of the business results you seek.
Applications for Any Industry or Business Type
Integration applications are collections of pre-configured software objects. They enable application software, services, data resources, and external partners to connect and work seamlessly with each other. Examples include:
EXTOL's model-driven design approach lets you build and maintain these and other integration applications without programming. You can configure, reuse, and combine integration objects in different ways to create integration applications for a wide range of business, industry, and project requirements.
For example, you can build an integration application that generates and transmits XML invoices from your ERP or accounting application to your customer, by combining adapters, a data transformation, and a simple business process. By changing the transformation rules and communication adapter, you can send different invoices to another customer through a Web-based invoicing hub. And by changing the output to a database extract and the adapter to a BI database, you can generate report data for a Business Intelligence (BI) application.
Together with EXTOL's Design-time Automation technology, this modular approach speeds and simplifies the creation of new integration applications. You can use the same integration components and EXTOL technology to integrate customers, suppliers, industry hubs, web and on-premise applications, files, databases, middleware services, and other resources, regardless of industry or business type.
Integration Applications for Your Industry
Integration applications that implement horizontal business processes, such as Order-to-Cash and Procure-to-Pay, can be quite similar across different companies and industries. Company-specific differences account for most of the variations. Differences can include document formats, application interfaces, and partner requirements (for B2B cases).
Integration applications also can be industry-specific, such as the transportation industry's Load Tender-to-Delivery process, or the healthcare insurance industry's Eligibility / Benefit Inquiry-to-Payment process. With EXTOL technology, these applications differ not so much in the nuts-and-bolts elements of business processes, but in the document types and transaction protocols used for connecting applications, trading partners, cloud services, and data stores.
For example, transportation-related integration applications operate on load tenders, manifests, freight details, and shipment status documents, among others. Other characteristic document sets and transaction protocols form the basis for integration applications in other industries.
EXTOL's integration middleware and design-time tools have been used by hundreds of companies to deliver industry-specific integration applications for Transportation, CPG, Distribution, Food Products, Healthcare, Retail, and other industries. With EXTOL, you can deliver integration applications that meet important industry requirements, such as:
You can build the integration applications you need in-house, with the staff you already have, or engage the EXTOL Professional Services team to work with you. Our Professional Services experts bring many years of experience working with companies in many industries. They have helped hundreds of EXTOL clients to meet a wide variety of industry and business-specific requirements.
One Middleware Foundation for All Integration Domains
Integration middleware refers to software systems that provide runtime services for integration application execution, communications, operations, and monitoring. EXTOL middleware provides a foundation for business integration applications, by implementing these services.
Integration middleware is conventionally categorized according to "domains" that are defined by the kinds of resources that are integrated:
While domains are useful for categorizing integration applications, they are less useful as a tool for evaluating and selecting integration middleware. Requirements overlap integration domains, and applications tend to straddle domain boundaries. For example, most Cloud and B2B integration requires end-to-end integration with on-premise application and data resources. And much of what passes for application integration is actually data integration that mediates communications between applications via their data interfaces.
Almost every business of any size needs all four kinds of integration. But acquiring different solutions for different types of integration applications can be prohibitively expensive. Not just due to the cost of multiple solutions, but even more for the cost of learning, using, and maintaining them, individually.
EXTOL middleware technology supports all four integration domains with one investment in infrastructure, tools, and skills. The EXTOL solution you choose for your first integration project remains relevant and useful as you integrate additional parts of your business, later on.
Cross-Platform Integration Broker
The foundation of EXTOL’s middleware solution is EXTOL Business Integrator (EBI), a cross-platform integration broker that supports cloud integration, B2B integration, Application integration, and Data integration. EBI also offers flexible license options to suit specific integration project needs. It provides all of the core execution services you need for integration, including:
For more information, see the EXTOL Business Integrator Overview
Web Dashboard and Automated Notifications
Effective management of your integration environment requires access to execution status, document history and acknowledgement status, trendlines, reporting, and automated notifications when exceptions occur. Much of this information is important to customers, suppliers, and other external partners, not just internal constituencies. So the EXTOL Dashboard enables both internal and external constituencies to query and report on the current status and history of integration processing, according to their assigned access privileges.
For more information, see the EXTOL Dashboard Overview
Some integration applications, especially B2B integration cases, require communications services for integration with customers, suppliers, and other external partners or services. EXTOL Business Integrator includes built-in support for FTP/S, email, HTTP/S (REST), and SOAP web services, and offers optional communication products to support other cases:
Both EXTOL Secure Exchange and EXTOL Portal can be used for integrated partner communciations wtih the EXTOL Business Integrator or EXTOL EDI Integrator for i products.
Design-time Tools for Rapid Project Delivery
EXTOL provides a comprehensive set of design-time tools for Building and Maintaining integration applications, without coding. At runtime, these applications execute by invoking process automation, data transformation, and other services implemented in EXTOL Integration Middleware.
The majority of integration lifecycle cost occurs during the Build and Maintain phases. Consequently, the key to containing overall integration costs is to reduce the time needed to Build and Maintain integration applications.
EXTOL's Design-time Automation approach speeds delivery of projects to production and minimizes integration lifecycle costs, by embracing three complementary strategies:
EXTOL Integration Studio
EXTOL Integration Studio (EIS), the design-time companion to EXTOL Business Integrator, is a graphical desktop environment for modeling and configuring integration applications. EIS includes complete integration lifecycle tool support, including:
Design-time Accelerators are features built into EXTOL Integration Studio that automate the configuration and maintenance of business processes, data transformations, business document schemas, and other integration objects. When used throughout the integration lifecycle, you can save 20%-70% of the time needed to Build and Maintain integration applications, depending on project size and makeup.
Integration Pattern Repository
The EXTOL Repository is built in to both EXTOL Integration Studio and EXTOL Business Integrator. It supports management of integration objects at design-time and runtime, respectively. Each EXTOL Integration Studio tool and design-time Accelerator is tightly integrated with the EXTOL Repository, to facilitate sharing of integration objects and pattern-matching during data transformation mapping.
The next step in EXTOL's pattern reuse strategy is the Cloud-based Integration Pattern Repository (IPR), available with EXTOL Business Integrator v2.6. The IPR extends EXTOL's vision for pattern reuse by enabling companies to match data transformation pattern needs against similar patterns created by other EXTOL customers and integration partners.
Unlike other shared mapping repositories, the IPR, together with EXTOL's unique Smart Mapping Accelerator, automates matching and retrieval of mapping patterns from the Cloud, and applies those patterns to data transformation maps, at the document, structure, and element levels. The result is rapid creation of transformation maps with a much higher percentage of high-probability source-to-target matches, and a lower probability of mapping errors.
EXTOL Business Integrator provides built-in support for integrating with applications that expose interfaces based on web services, file, databases, messaging, and local APIs, including in-house applications and application software products from many commercial vendors.
EXTOL also provides customizable, off-the-shelf "Enterprise Adapter" products for integration with applications from SAP, Oracle, and TMW Systems. These offerings bundle predefined business documents, adapters, business processes, and base transformation maps. Using these adapters can shorten the time needed to deliver derivative applications for your business.
Services to Ensure Your Integration Success
EXTOL offers services to assist customers with all aspects of integration planning and implementation, including: requirements definition, project planning, problem identification and resolution, design reviews, maintenance, training and implementation, maintenance, and daily operations. At EXTOL, we understand that each project has unique circumstances and requirements, and that even highly experienced integration teams may need assistance when working to tight deadlines.
Complex IT systems sometimes produce unexpected results and can be subject to frequent changes. When such events affect business operations, it is critically important to have a responsive business partner ready to assist, with skilled personnel who understand how to identify, diagnose, and resolve problems. Drawing on an extensive knowledge base of best practices, the EXTOL Customer Support team provides best-in-class service when you need it, for problems big and small.
Whether you are new to business integration, need to take your integration skills to the next level, or just need a refresher course, EXTOL provides education tailored to fit your special needs and skills. With a combination of workshop-centered classroom training, e-Learning offerings, and advanced training at our annual EXTOL University event, EXTOL offers Training options to suit your subject area needs and delivery preferences.
EXTOL's Professional Services team provides project management, staff supplementation, and turnkey integration application services for customers with limited IT staff availability or who face tight completion deadlines. With decades of collective experience, the EXTOL Professional Services team can help you deliver production-quality integration applications faster, and with reduced risk.
EXTOL's in-house team of Managed Services Professionals knows how to get the most out of our powerful integration technology, and can accomplish more (in less time) than the occasional user. Engaging EXTOL Managed Services to manage your integration operations reduces the risk of false starts, delays, and project failure. Our Managed Services staff members are leading experts in EXTOL software and have direct access to customer support and development resources, to ensure rapid resolution of unforeseen problems.