Methodological Framework and Application Integration Services in Enterprise Information Systems

Methodological Framework and Application Integration Services in Enterprise Information Systems

Darko Galinec (Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Croatia, Republic of Croatia) and Slavko Vidovic (University of Zagreb, Republic of Croatia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-014-1.ch123
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Abstract

For integration of two business functions or two business systems it is necessary to connect their business processes with application support and data exchange. Processes appertaining to one application system create data which will be used by another application system. First, and the key reason for the integration of business systems’ applications, are user business needs for business processes and information flow, and changes in business processes occurring during business transactions. The next integration reason is related to the technological differences by means of which applications are constructed. Integration should be carried out to connect technologically different applications. Because of process complexity which includes breakdown of the existing business processes and applications, business processes change on the basis of business needs and user requirements, modeling of such processes, and new applications and their connection, it is necessary to shape methodological framework. The use of this framework should result in the successful completion of EAI projects.
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Introduction

For integration of two business functions or two business systems it is necessary to connect their business processes with application support and data exchange. Processes appertaining to one application system create data which will be used by another application system.

First, and the key reason for the integration of business systems’ applications, are user business needs for business processes and information flow, and changes in business processes occurring during business transactions.

The next integration reason is related to the technological differences by means of which applications are constructed. Integration should be carried out to connect technologically different applications. Because of process complexity which includes breakdown of the existing business processes and applications, business processes change on the basis of business needs and user requirements, modeling of such processes, and new applications and their connection, it is necessary to shape methodological framework. The use of this framework should result in the successful completion of EAI projects.

EAI Short History

Applications have been developed on the basis of business system function architecture (for example automation of production, procurement, sales, and so forth, functions, that is, applications for their support. EAI related requirements also appear with business combinations—integration of business subjects into a whole (fusion, consolidation, acquisition). In such cases, information systems applications of the subjects which are going to be merged are integrated. From the early sixties to the late seventies of the last century, business systems applications were simple in design and functionality (Gormly, 2002). Business system data integration was not considered at all, as the aim was to support manual procedures by PC. During the eighties the necessity of integration applications within business systems was recognized. There were attempts to redesign existing applications to make them suitable for integration. Since the nineties, enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications have prevailed, and the existing applications and data were adjusted to the ERP system. The aforesaid could be done only through EAI introduction as a logical sequence of events. Later on, the advantages of integration of multiple business processes through existing applications have been conceived. Other factors which have contributed to the EAI development include growth of applications intended for supply chain management (SCM) support and business to business integration (B2B), and applications for modern business processes support and Web application integration. Modern business requires a process centric approach, that is, end-to-end (E2E) management and control of business system. The process includes various applications intended for the support of different business processes and functions.

Gormly (2002) states that “EAI is very involved and complex, and incorporates every level of an enterprise system: its architecture, hardware, software and processes” (p. 1).

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Business Process Integration

The history of information systems development was driven by business systems’ functions automation and mergers and acquisitions - integration of business subjects into a whole. Modern business requires business processes integration through their dynamics, and thus enterprise application integration (EAI) as well. In this connection, it is necessary to find ways and means of application integration and interaction in a consistent and reliable way. The real-time enterprise (RTE) monitors capture and analyse root causes and overt events that are critical to its success the instant those events occur (McGee, 2004, p. 2). EAI is determined by business needs and business requirements. EAI has to be founded on business process repository and models, business integration methodology (BIM), and information flow as well. Business process models are the strongest conceptual resource to store and share knowledge (Vidović & Galinec, 2003, p. 3). Decisions concerning technology must be done to enable successful application integration. In this article, EAI methodological framework and technological concepts for its achievements are introduced.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Service: Is functionality that works as a family unit that offers business capability. It is specified in terms of contracts between the provider of the functionality and its consumers. It is akin to a reusable chunk of a business process that can be mixed and matched with other services (Allen, 2005). It is a repeatable business task (IBM Corporation Software Group, 2005, p. 3).

Composite Application: Is a set of related and integrated services that support a business process built on SOA (IBM Corporation Software Group, 2005, p. 3

Business Process: A set of activities that is initiated by an event, transforms information or materials, and produces an output. Value chains produce outputs that are valued by customers. Other processes produce outputs that are valued by other processes (Allen, 2005).

Real-Time Enterprise (RTE): Monitors, captures, and analyses root causes and overt events that are critical to its success the instant those events occur (McGee, 2004). RTE architecture must accelerate and combine the efforts of many business units and their respective application systems running on different computers, sometimes in different enterprises.

The Focus of a Service-Oriented Architecture: On the functional infrastructure and its business services, not the technical infrastructure and its technical services. A business-oriented service in an SOA is typically concerned with one major aspect of the business, be it a business entity, a business function, or a business process.

Service-Orientation: A way of integrating business processes as linked services, and the outcomes that these services bring (Frankel et al., 2003, p. 3). The roots of service orientation can be found in three different areas: programming paradigms, distribution technology, and business computing. The development of different programming language paradigms has not only contributed to the implementation platform for the different elements of an SOA, but also has influenced the interfacing techniques used in an SOA, as well as the interaction patterns that are employed between service providers and service consumers (Krafzig, Banke & Slama, 2004).

Enterprise Application Integration (EAI): A class of data integration technologies focused on linking transactional applications together, typically in real time. EAI tools are also generally focused on point-to-point application communications. Technologies that can make up an EAI solution include Web services, transaction monitors, message brokers, and message queues. Most commonly, EAI vendors discuss messaging and Web services. EAI provides the ability for different enterprise level programs to exchange data in order to fulfill business processes. It is also referred to as Middleware (Gormly, 2002).

Software Service: Is a type of service (Allen, 2005). It provides clients access to business functionality remotely as a service. As organizations seek new and less costly methods to acquire and pay for business applications, business partners are increasingly being asked to deliver their software on demand with usage-based pricing.

Web Service: Is a software service that complies with certain standards (Allen, 2005). It is a self-describing, self-contained, modular unit of software application logic that provides defined business functionality. Web service is consumable software service that typically includes some combination of business logic and data. Web services can be aggregated to establish a larger workflow or business transaction. Inherently, the architectural components of Web services support messaging, services description, registries, and loosely coupled interoperability.

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