System integration is essential for both B2B (business-to-business) communication and internal cooperation within a company. Systems integration is something we do daily.

Therefore, we will explain what is systems integration and what methods have traditionally been used  in implementation to help companies develop and deploy integrations between their systems. Check it out.

But what is system integration?

In very broad terms, systems integration is the process of connecting different systems and subsystems (components) to enable data and information services to function together.

The main reason for organizations to use systems integration is the need to improve the productivity and quality of their operations. The main objective is to make the various IT systems “talk to each other” through integration, to speed up information flows and reduce operational costs.

This integration is not only used to connect internal systems, but also the third parties with which the organization operates.

Learn about some systems integration methods

Typical systems integration methods are divided into different categories, among them are:

Point-to-point integration

Also called a point-to-point connection, it is not a system integration as such, as there are only two system components involved.

However, while it doesn't have the complexity of “true” integration, it still connects one system to another so they work together. Typically, this point-to-point integration handles just one function and does not involve any complex business logic.

Many cloud-based applications offer these types of point-to-point integrations as ready-to-use, productized integration modules into most common IT systems.

Vertical integration

In the vertical integration method, system and subsystem components are integrated creating functional “silos”, starting with the basic function from the bottom up.

This is typically a relatively simple and easy to execute method that involves only a limited number of systems (more than two), but on the other hand this integration method is rigid and more difficult to manage in the long term as any new functionality will require its own functional “silo”.

Still, this method can be used effectively to create simple integrations that only need to address a single function.

Star integration

Star integration means that a system and each subsystem is connected with other subsystems using point-to-point connections.

This allows for more functionality, but as the number of integrated systems increases, the number of integrations also increases significantly, and managing the integrations becomes very demanding.

Horizontal integration

In horizontal integration, a separate subsystem is used as a common interface layer between all subsystems. This layer is often called Enterprise Service Bus (ESB).

This method allows each subsystem to have only a single interface to communicate with all other subsystems connected to the common interface layer (i.e., with ten systems, there are only ten connections).

The benefit of this method is also that each subsystem can be changed or even replaced without having to re-interface any other systems.

Common data format integration

The integration of different IT systems with each other often requires that data coming from one system needs to be transformed into a different data format used by the receiving system.

Just like in Star Integration, if each transformation needs to be done system by system, the number of data transformations increases significantly and becomes a high maintenance task.

To overcome this problem, the common data format approach allows each system to do only one data conversion from its native to common format (and vice versa).

This way, the number of data transformations required is as high as the number of subsystems.

And if you have questions about any other topic, leave them in the comments, we are ready to help you.