Author
Marko Kujala
Category
Blog
Published
14.05.2019

Integration refers to the connection of two or more systems implemented on different technologies or platforms so that the connected components are able to communicate with one another. When systems are integrated, it is possible to transport data between two separate systems and, if necessary, to enrich it using new micro services, for example.

Software integration boosts and harmonises business

The key need for system integrations arises if you wish to develop your services to be more effective and to cost-efficiently boost your own operations. For example, the manual transfer of data is slow, prone to human error, and requires workers. The efficiency aspect of services is found in their seamless functionality, such as the functionality of the purchasing process, if it is connected directly to the company’s own business processes.

Simply transferring data from one system to another does not usually correspond to needs; instead, the recipient system must also be able to interpret the data content and process it as required.

What problems can be solved through integration?

Integrations are typically used to connect an ERP or financial management system to a separate implementation. When you add in the need to retrieve orders or product data from a separate system, PDM or PIM solutions are often involved in the integration.

Product information integrations are often utilised when building separate micro services in which additional services are enriched using product data. Additional services can be published on websites, mobile applications, or even in automated product lists. Micro services often use light mechanisms such as rest interfaces to communicate with one another.

Integrations are required if the need arises for digital signature services or strong electronic identification implemented by a third-party service, for example. The user logs in in an external service, and information about the log-in and any other collected data is transferred using the integration to the company’s own system for use.

Large employer companies may also use identification integrations, such as Active Directory (AD) or Azure AD. The integration allows for centralised identification to applications, whereupon no separate log-in to the application to be implemented is required.

When you’re planning an integration

An essential perspective for the implementation of a system integration is not to re-solve already implemented solutions. If a certain process or issue are already dealt with in a certain way in your company, there is no need to change the process itself. Integration can be used to take the existing workflow into use in another service, meaning there is no need for changes in processing.

On the other hand, an integration may be required if you wish to outsource a procedure to another system.

Companies use a large number of different services, and that number is constantly increasing, so it is important to be able to identify which integrations are necessary and suitable for your own business.

When planning system integrations, it pays to consider the following needs:

  •  Sufficiently precise specification of what is required of the system integrations
  •  Interface descriptions of the systems to be integrated
  •  Possibility of a test interface
  •  Organising permissions to the system to be integrated

Integration terms that are good to know

The most common data transfer protocols

  • Web service: Programming Interface. A server provides software running on other computers with a service via HTTP or another web-based protocol.
  • FTP (File Transfer Protocol): An FTP enables the transfer of files between two computers, regardless of operating system.
  • SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol): A language and protocol that allows a service user to send a message to the service provider and the service provider can send a response.

Web service architecture models for implementing interfaces

  • REST (Representational State Transfer): An HTTP-based architectural style for creating application programming interfaces.
  • GRAPHQL: An HTTP-based architectural style for creating application programming interfaces.

Formats for transferring material

  • JSON (JavaScript Object Notation): An open-standard file format for transmitting data.
  • XML (Extensible Markup Language): XML is used both as a format for data transfer between systems and as a format for saving documents.

Other important terms

  • API: API is an abbreviation for application programming interface. It is a programming interface that allows several applications to communicate with one another.
  • JWT (JSON Web Token): An open-standard method for managing access tokens between different software.

How can I get started with implementing an integration?

First specify your goals and then contact us. It’s sensible to define your desired state of business right from the start – what integrations will aim for and what are your weak points.

We can help you throughout the entire process, from specification to implementation and release. Don’t hesitate to ask us for more information; we’re happy to discuss your needs with you.

Let's talk.

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Marko Kujala

CEO, Service Architect
Mediasignal Communications Oy