What are the Methods of System Integration?

The methods of system integration are the different techniques used to plug electronic systems into each other. It is important to know which method is appropriate for your project.

Businesses that want to implement data sharing between their existing software should think about the various types of system integration and how to maximize transparency.

System integration is a data management process that uses software to automatically share information between various subsystems. Because each system is programmed differently, an integrator acts as a middleman, translating data from each software behind the scenes.

System Integration

Without this solution, employees would have to manually enter the information, increasing the risk of human error and costing the company more time and money.

There are various types of software integration that use various infrastructures to meet the needs of a business. Some solutions transfer data between specific subsystems, while others use an interconnected network to create a robust database. As a result, businesses should educate themselves on each system integration method, as well as its benefits and drawbacks, in order to determine which option is best for their organization.

System Integration- Methods

Determining an appropriate systems integration solution is by no means an easy task. You must choose the right subsystems, the right locations, and the right type of relationship. It is critical that you, as a company, understand exactly what processes are involved, how they interact with all stakeholders, and how they relate to the business objectives. The systems integration will go smoothly if you are clear about why and where the business requires operational harmony.

1. Point-to-Point Integration

In its purest form, point-to-point integration/connection is not system integration. In this case, despite the system functioning as a whole, the complexity of the functions that can be performed is limited. Such forms of system integration typically handle one business function at a time and are best suited for a 1:1 relationship, i.e. one system to another system. The more systems in play, the more connections there are, and thus a point-to-point systems integration quickly becomes unmanageable.

2. Vertical Integration

Vertical systems integration is distinguished from other types of systems integration by the structure that is formed. Essentially, each sub-system is linked to the other based on how closely they are related to the function performed. This results in a 'silo' - like structure, with the bottom function being the most basic and the rest becoming progressively more complex. This type of system integration is relatively simple and involves a small number of systems; however, this system integration model can be rigid. Adding any new functionality means creating its own 'silo,' which makes things difficult to manage in the long run.

Consider how the Point-Of-Sale (POS) system tracks orders and records sales transactions, while another piece of software generates invoices. This is where the term """"silo"""" comes into play because the system is tightly integrated to serve a specific and narrowly defined business function, storing data in one location and not coordinating with other silos.

3. Star Integration

Simply put, star integration is a collection of point-to-point system integrations. In other words, a star connection is formed by combining a larger number of simple connections. The greater the number of subsystems connected, the greater the number of points at the start and subsequent lines in between.

System Integration

Moreover, when this system integration method connects each system to the remaining subsystems, the series of connections can, at best, resemble a star polyhedron. More than likely, the actual system integration diagram will resemble a plate of spaghetti (hence star integration is also known as spaghetti integration). In other words, if a company approaches system integration in this manner, the ideal neat and tidy IT infrastructure quickly becomes jumbled and difficult to map. Because, as you might expect, this provides far more functionality than a single point-to-point connection, but managing the integrations becomes extremely difficult.

4. Horizontal Integration

Horizontal integration is achieved by using one specialized subsystem as a common user interface layer that connects all the other subsystems. In other words, the number of connections required for system integration is reduced because the subsystems are connected indirectly through the main system rather than directly. There will only be five connections if there are five subsystems. There will only be ten connections if there are ten subsystems. As a result, the primary benefit of this method is the reduced number of connections required to maintain functionality, which saves time, effort, and money spent on building the system. An Enterprise Service Bus is the name given to the intermediary layer/subsystem used in this type of system integration (ESB).

Some of the most common examples of horizontal integration can be found in the healthcare sector, where a simplified method for medical system integration has been achieved. Furthermore, by taking a tailored approach to software development, an ESB integration interface can efficiently and effectively mesh with existing on-premises systems. Existing data-generating subsystems or those that require data movement and integration will only need to be linked to the ESB. It would be a good idea to implement technology such as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Managed File Transfer (MFT), and application connectors to facilitate the transfer, transformation, and integration of data coming in from multiple sources.

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