Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) is defined as utilizing software and computer systems’ architectural principles to integrate a set of an enterprise’s computer applications. EAI is the process of linking, within a single company, such applications together so as to simplify and automate business processes to the maximum possible extent, while, simultaneously, not having to make extensive alterations to the existing applications or data structures. One major problem that can arise when attempting to implement EAI is that the diverse systems which have to be linked often reside on various operating systems, use different database solutions and dissimilar computer languages, and, on occasion, are legacy systems no longer supported by the vendor who created them. In some instances, such systems are called “stovepipe systems” since they are made up of components that have been bound together in a fashion that renders it very difficult to alter them in any way.
EAI can be used for the following different purposes:
- Data (information) Integration: Making certain that information in multiple systems is kept consistent. This is also known as EII (Enterprise Information Integration).
- Vendor independence: Deriving business policies or rules from applications and installing them in the EAI system so that even if a different vendor’s application is replaced, the business rules do not have to be re-implemented.
- Common Facade: An EAI system can front-end a collection of applications and provide a single, consistent access interface to these applications, thus freeing users from having to be trained to interact with differing software packages.
- Provides real time information access among systems
- Streamlines business processes and helps raise organizational efficiency
- Maintains information integrity across multiple systems
- Allows ease of development and maintenance