In the context of bespoke software, systems integration refers to linking together diverse software and hardware components so that they work as a system.
For instance a typical systems integration project might involve building computing systems for clients by integrating software products and hardware from multiple vendors, some of the benefits being that lower cost pre-configured hardware and software components can be combined to provide solutions that are more cost effective than developing implementations that are entirely customised using bespoke programming and component design. Such a project could involve the design and build of a customised architecture or application and integrating this with existing legacy or custom software and a communications infrastructure.
Examples of System Integration Processes
There are many different kinds of system integration. These include process automation in which business processes are integrated thus reducing the need for manpower; data synchronisation to ensure that data is consistent across various applications; development of composite applications with a new GUI and facilitating web access; and close monitoring of the business environment to facilitate improved responsiveness to change.
There are also a number of alternative motivations for following a systems integration approach. Examples of these include:
• Reduction of development costs while extending the life cycle of legacy systems and applications
• Integration of different points of sale thus permitting businesses to reach out to customers in more ways and so increasing sales
• Providing businesses with the means of reacting rapidly to the changing business environment
Systems integration isn’t the only approach to these challenges; however it is often the most cost effective. Generally alternative approaches involve replacing aging computer systems with new ones, which is both costly and time consuming. Systems integration on the other hand provides a rapid and cost effective route to upgrade the computing systems so as to achieve the level of service demanded by the changing business environment.
Integrating IT Systems
While, as indicated above, there are many different requirements for system integration, integrating IT systems is the most common.
Over time there is a tendency for corporations to incorporate multiple and often disparate IT systems. These are likely to cater for a variety of different functions, to address business processes in different departments and, from a technology viewpoint, to be at different stages in their product life cycles.
This is likely to result in all manner of problems, confusions, inefficiencies and reduced levels of productivity. There are also likely to be security problems and a high potential for noncompliance of data regulation policies, both corporate and legislative.
Transforming this level of complexity into integrated system that is both streamlined and highly efficient may seem to be a huge step, but it is one that is becoming increasingly necessary and, when done correctly, has many far reaching benefits. For increasing numbers of organisations there is no longer a choice; growing volumes of data and system complexities leave them no alternative but to grasp the nettle.
Implementing such a change requires the right tools, the right methodologies, along with world class knowledge and experience.
Web systems integration
Web systems integration is also a huge requirement of enterprises. It has become increasingly necessary to combine data and services from a number of disparate sources many of which are written in a variety of different programming languages and have a variety of different data structures.
Typically a web integration project will require input from a range of specialists in design and user accessibility, coding, technical architecture, system analysis and software, development, as well as input from other functions such as SEO and marketing.
Cloud based integration
Today many systems integrations projects involve cloud based integration delivered as SaaS or PaaS. Such solutions are able to provide EDI gateways while integrating legacy and custom in house applications so that multiple applications are able to share data in the cloud.
There are many advantages. Data can be accessed by users from any kind of device and from any location that has internet access; data is stored in a single location rather than on multiple devices and work stations making backup and disaster recovery far simpler; and the solution is flexible and scalable.
The Systems Integrator
All systems integration projects require strong project management in the form of an overall systems integrator or project manager whose task it is to coordinate all of these different activities that are required and to ensure that the project is delivered on time, in budget and complies with all of the agreed specifications
Every systems integration project is different and the first step is always to discover precisely what the client requires in relation to their technical requirements and overall business objectives. By taking the time to listen we are able to advise you on how you can achieve your systems integration goals.