EAI (Enterprise Application Integration) has become one of the most popular new trends in business streamlining or in business consulting. Essentially, EAI is the process that connects multiple applications so that they can work together in order to accomplish business tasks. This combination is either done through point-to-point integration or through middleware-based integration. Point-to-point integration is ideal for only a few applications while middleware-based integration works well for larger quantities of applications because it serves as a mediator that can talk to all different types applications.
The purpose of EAI is to simplify the cost and inconvenience of going through multiple integrations. For example, if a company decides to engage in web-based commerce and to develop a method of customer self-service, it may have to integrate each of these systems into its existing IT infrastructure. Instead, with EAI, the integration can be completed all at once and can cut the costs and time to complete the integration in half. With so many businesses adding new technologies to their existing business models, many are finding that EAI is one of the best ways to reduce costs and to improve their bottom line.
Obviously, one of EAI's biggest benefits is the cost-savings. When compared to the custom integrations that are companies commonly use, the initial savings for large projects can run hundreds or thousands of dollars or more on a single project while subsequent projects using the existing EAI architecture may save businesses upwards of $1 million each.
Of course the cost savings are only one of many benefits companies find in using EAI. Another is shorter development times. Because all of the applications are designed to work together and to run at peak efficiency, it takes less time to go from planning to finished product. Another benefit is that any future implementations can also be added to the arrangement easily because EAI is flexible. This feature means that no matter when future implementations are made, the EAI will continue to provide cost and time savings over the life of its use within the business.
Furthermore, EAI helps promote greater accuracy of data and fewer opportunities for redundancy. Because almost all data will be handled, transferred, and archived within the technology, repeated documents and/or errors will be caught and corrected during the process. Plus, many functions once taken care of manually would now be automated, thus reducing the risk of introducing human errors.
Before these benefits can be achieved, however, the company needs to make a few key Enterprise Application Integration decisions. First managers need to determine the type of architecture that best fits the applications being used and which will most likely meet the future and current needs of the company. Most companies do prefer the middleware-based integration since they can save money if they introduce additional applications in to the system.
Once that choice has been finalized, the business must also select an integration method. There are a number of options currently available, including UI-level integration (scripting done in order to allow customers to access an existing database more easily, for example) and application-level integration (connecting the programs to work together without interfering with how the software applications themselves function). In order to determine which method of integration is most appropriate, the company will need to seriously consider what applications will be used, which stand a good chance of being added later, and which will work best with the desired architecture.
Generally speaking, EAI may seem like a complicated solution that includes numerous decisions that need to be made and based on the anticipated needs and growth of the business. However, the benefits it provides can be well worth the initial investment in time and money that are required to get started. Very few technological business endeavors are able to generate savings during their first project, but EAI has the ability to do just that and will continues to provide even greater savings on each project added thereafter.