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System integration is not just about connecting systems, and has nothing to do with networks. It is about balancing the need to get systems to work together with the need to change them independently.
We can use integration to help us change systems independently, but we need to define what we should treat as separate systems. This can be done pragmatically based on technical differences, or more rigorously by looking at how systems support different management responsibilities.
Integration projects struggle because they send the wrong information between systems. Adopting simple rules for data content and structure can greatly simplify integration.
XML is a way of structuring data that works very well with integration. XML is simpler than many people imagine.
Extensible markup language (XML) is ideal as an interface data format. To keep it simple, you need to adopt some simple rules which ignore many of its advanced features.
"We like standards - we've got lots of them" is a good description of most businesses' approach to transferring data between systems. If you want any-to-any integration, you need to reduce the number of different data transfer technologies.
Integration architecture is referred to as point-to-point, as a bus, or as a hub. These are not mutually exclusive architectures, but complementary approaches for different aspects of integration.
Before buying an integration tool, do not just ask "Is this the best?", but "Do I really need it?"
You can document interfaces easily and effectively if you are not too formal, and if you yourself rely on the documentation you have written.
To make integration code simple, flexible and fast, you need to separate technical code from business code, use integration layers wisely, and be aware of different ways of processing XML.
Integrating software packages is easy if you have a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve and if you ask the right questions. But you will have problems if you abdicate integration to the package vendor.
Effective systems integration requires a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve and an awareness of the common problems to avoid.
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