Software Integration: Types, Methods, Process And More | 2023


April 2023

A few decades ago, software integrations were as rare as a unicorn sighting. Businesses were just happy to have a computer program that didn't crash every five minutes. If your computer didn't burst into flames, it was a good day.

But now, the software has come a long way, like a marathon runner on steroids. It's so user-friendly even your grandma could use it. And for businesses, software integrations are more crucial than ever.

Why, you ask? Because modern customers are more demanding than a toddler on a sugar high. They want a flawless customer experience, and they wanted it yesterday. That's where software systems integrations come in. They can help your support and sales teams provide top-notch service to your customers, even when they're on the go.

Indeed, it's tempting to stick with your old, reliable software. But let's face it. Your old software is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. With software integrations, you can streamline your operations and get more done quickly. It's like having a personal assistant without the salary or snarky comments.

So, if you want to stay ahead of the competition, you must embrace software development integration services from none other than us! Because we put your needs before anything else. 

What is Software Integration?

Known variously as IT integration or system integration, this process can unlock a world of benefits for businesses of all sizes. The act of system integration is a magical process akin to the creation of a beautiful, intricate tapestry. It involves the art of fusing disparate software and hardware modules into a single, cohesive infrastructure that functions as one harmonious whole. 

Harmonious integration can make or break the deal. Apple has set a benchmark in this domain. Their seamless integration between products is a smooth criminal, delivering the ultimate user experience. 

To put emphasis, if your products or services aren't integrated seamlessly into this modern world, you might as well be trying to sell sand in a desert. Integration is crucial across different disciplines and industries.

Take Augmented Reality, for instance. Its integration with human life through cameras, wearables, games, or educational products is like giving life a 2.0 upgrade. As for Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, they're like the dream team of technology, helping us achieve higher capabilities and better performance, basically the tech equivalent of having a personal trainer and a life coach all in one.

What are the Types of System Integration?

There are three different types of software integration you need to know about.

Enterprise application integration (EAI)

First up, we have Enterprise Application Integration (EAI). Think of it like a fancy service-based integration where different services communicate with each other, gather data, and then take the appropriate action based on the desired workflow.

Data integration (DI)

Next, we've got Data Integration (DI). Every company has different data sources scattered around like confetti, and that's where DI comes in handy. It gathers data from all these sources, aggregates them, and transforms them into one central place for easy reporting. You will be playing a game of Tetris with your data, fitting all the pieces together to create a clear picture.

Electronic Document Integration/Interchange (EDI)

Last but not least, we have Electronic Document Integration/Interchange (EDI). This is the ultimate business-to-business process that eliminates the need for paper-based communication. EDI uses electronic standards to exchange documents and make the whole process faster, cheaper, and error-free.

What are the methods of Systems Integration? 

Determining the appropriate systems integration solution is a task that's about as easy as trying to solve a Rubik's cube blindfolded. However, my dear compatriots, there are methods to this madness.

First things first, it's important to understand the processes involved and how they interact with all the stakeholders and business objectives. Suppose you are trying to navigate a busy intersection during rush hour. You need to know which way the traffic is flowing and what your end goal is. Once you've got that down, systems integration will be smoother than a baby's bottom.

Point-to-point integration (p2p integration)

Now, let's talk about one of the methods, i.e., Point-to-Point Integration. It's not system integration in its purest form, but it's like a cousin twice removed. It's all about connecting one system to another, handling one business function simultaneously. 

But, like trying to play telephone with a group of rowdy toddlers, the more systems you add to the mix, the more connections you have to make, and it quickly becomes a hot mess. So while Point-to-Point integration has its uses, it's a jack of all trades, a master of none.

Vertical integration 

The method that's as inflexible as a board and as siloed as a small town. 

This software integration strategy forms sub-systems linked to each other based on their proximity in function, creating a tiered approach where the basic functions are at the bottom, and the complex ones are at the top.

Let's talk about a real-life example — Netflix. The streaming giant started out as a humble DVD rental business but then moved into online streaming of films and movies licensed from major studios. However, they didn't stop there. They realized that producing their own original content could improve their margins, so they performed some vertical integration and started producing hits like Grace & Frankie and Stranger Things

Today, Netflix uses its distribution model to promote its original content and programming licensed from studios, making them a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment industry.

However, this method is not without its downsides. Adding new functionality means adding a new silo, cramming a new block onto the Jenga tower without toppling it. It can quickly become a tangled web of systems that are difficult to manage.

Star integration 

Star integration may sound like a celestial concept, but in reality, it's more like a web of spaghetti code. The idea behind Star integration is to link each subsystem to all other subsystems through point-to-point connections, creating a hub-and-spoke structure. However, as the number of integrated systems increases, so does the complexity of the integrations.

For instance, connecting ten systems using Star Integration requires a whopping 45 integrations. And every time you change one system, you may have to redo nine other connections, turning the system into a bowl of spaghetti code. So, while Star Integration may have its place, be careful not to let it become a tangled mess of interconnected systems.

Horizontal integration 

This method takes a different approach to software integration. It introduces a common interface layer between sub-systems. This interface layer often referred to as an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), acts as the central hub that allows each sub-system to communicate with all the other sub-systems using a single interface. It means that for a system with ten sub-systems, there would only be ten connections in total, simplifying the management of integrations.

One of the main advantages of horizontal integration is its flexibility. Each sub-system can be easily changed or replaced without requiring the interfaces of the other systems to be redone. In this way, it is easier for businesses to adapt to changing needs and upgrade their systems without worrying about disrupting the entire integration. 

Moreover, horizontal integration is often used in complex environments where multiple sub-systems need to communicate with each other seamlessly while minimizing the potential for errors or failures.

Common data format integration (CDFI)

When integrating different IT systems, it's often necessary to convert the data format of the output from one system to match the input format of the receiving system. However, if each transformation is done system-by-system, it can lead to a large number of data transformations that require high maintenance.

To address this issue, the common data format approach enables each system to convert its native format to a shared format and vice versa. By adopting a shared format, each system only needs to perform one data conversion, reducing the number of transformations required to the number of sub-systems.

This approach, unlike Star Integration, reduces the workload of data transformation, making the integration process more efficient and manageable.

What are the Best Software Integration Tools for 2023?

Have a look at different types of integration software tools to boost your workflow: 

  • Zappier 
  • Snaplogic
  • Cleo 
  • Cyclr 
  • Denodo 
  • Celigo

What is the Software Integration Process? 

The following steps are critical to ensure that your software integration process is successful:

Collect requirements and specifications

To define the requirements and specifications, perform the following activities: 

  • Elicit business requirements for the new integrated software system
  • Identify the systems processes that need to be integrated
  • Define data integration requirements
  • Analyze software capabilities
  • Determine data flow
  • Define business metrics to measure integration success.

Analyze the information

This stage surrounds the project to understand the types of processes to be integrated. Find answers to the following questions: 

  • What types of data are stored in the system?
  • How will you access those assets? 
  • What technologies are involved in protecting these assets?
  •  Whether you should use third-party integration software or not?

Develop architecture and management plans

Formulate a well-defined architecture plan to understand your systems and their relationships, identify critical assets, and mitigate security risks. Include the following tasks in your plan: 

  • Identify key stakeholders, potential solutions, and associated risks
  • Determine the scope of the project
  • Create a timeline
  • Determine who will be involved in each step of the process

Create the software integration system

In this stage, you have to follow the steps: 

  • Describes the requirements for integrating the system, including availability, security, maintainability, components, technology stack, and persistence based on your business's needs. 
  • Decide on the right app integration approach, such as common data storage, point-to-point integration, mediated integration, or third-party integration software solutions.

Begin using the integration system

After creating the integrated software system, review it to ensure everything is as planned and educate employees on how to use the tools going forward and to whom they should ask their queries.

Evaluate system performance periodically

Last but not least, evaluate the system's performance regularly to measure user satisfaction, system effectiveness, and system efficiency. 

  • Conduct manual and automated software integration testing 
  • User feedback can provide insights into employee satisfaction levels
  • Determine system effectiveness by measuring expected project outcomes against actual performance
  • Evaluating system efficiency helps identify any bottlenecks and ensures everyone is using the right tools and processes for job tasks.

What are the Software Integration Best Practices?

In order to help you maximize the potential of your existing software infrastructure without any drawbacks, we have reviewed and revamped our system integration practices. Here are some IT software integration best practices for you. 

Map your process flows

An analysis carries weight in a successful integration project. By analyzing your existing processes, you can gain a greater understanding of what integration is and the impact it will have on your systems. This will inform whether your integration project will involve any data replication or cause any crossovers in your operating systems.

It is essential to focus on deviations from standard processes, known as unhappy paths when analyzing and defining integration requirements. Ensuring accurate data entry is crucial to maintaining the correct chronological sequence of events in a process. This can help avoid errors and potential disruptions.

Furthermore, an agile approach is advantageous as it allows for flexibility in adapting to newly defined unhappy paths as they are uncovered throughout the process, as opposed to documenting all potential unhappy paths before kick-off as part of a fixed scope.

Research available APIs

At the core of an integration project is the need for accessible APIs to access the data of and integrate with other products. Make sure you research API capabilities where they are currently in use. For example, if you are looking to integrate with an off-the-shelf package and an API does not exist, the software provider themselves would need to develop one for you to be able to access their system.

When using third-party APIs, consider the update frequency, size, and impact on your solution to prevent issues. Research the API's update history and schedule, and prepare for significant updates that may require changes to your code.

Modular releases 

When it comes to rolling out your project releases, you don't want to put all your eggs in one basket. A staged approach is the way to go, so you can build a working concept and model piece by piece instead of throwing everything out there at once and hoping for the best.

Now, I'm not saying you have to baby-step your way through the process. But using proof of concepts, prototypes, minimum viable products, and beta releases can help you introduce functionality to your end users as soon as possible. And who says NO to a quick gratification errand?  

By taking a staged approach and following these best practices, you'll be sure to have a successful integration project that maximizes the potential of your business-critical systems. So, take it slow and steady, and remember that Rome wasn't integrated in a day!

A Smooth Software Integration With A Might Backbone

Introducing our software integration services – where technology meets magic!

We don't just connect systems; we create an orchestra of technology that sings in perfect harmony to drive your business forward. With our 5-star clutch reviews, you can trust that we'll seamlessly integrate your existing software infrastructure to maximize its potential without any drawbacks.

Our secret? We map your process flows, research off-the-shelf product APIs, and take a staged approach to roll out releases. It's not just about delivering on time but delivering with excellence.

So, why settle for mediocre when you can experience software integration at its finest? Let us take your business to new heights with our cutting-edge technology and expertise. Don't just take our word for it – trust our proven track record and let us make magic happen for you.


Frequently Asked Questions 

What is integration in software?

In software, integration is the process of combining different subsystems or components into a single larger system that functions as one cohesive entity. It involves making sure that these different components can communicate and work seamlessly together to achieve a common goal. Integration can take place within a single application or between multiple applications, and it is essential for creating efficient, effective, and user-friendly software systems.

What are the types of software integration?

The following are the type of software integration: 

  • Electronic Document Integration/Interchange (EDI)
  • Data integration 
  • Enterprise application integration 

What are real-world examples of software integration?

Following are real-world software integration examples:

  • E-commerce integrations
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) integrations
  • Cloud application integrations
  • Accounting software integrations
  • Human resources (HR) software integrations
  • Healthcare software integrations
  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP) integrations

Fahad Ali, Author

Fahad is PM at ARFASOFTECH but has a knack for writing. He enjoys writing about the latest technologies and evolving trends. Most of his writings revolve around trending technologies and their integration into operations.

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