System Integration (SI) is the process of combining different component subsystems into one large information system. This may include designing or creating a customized application or architecture, and integrating it with other new hardware and software to improve efficiency. SI is also used to add more value to a system by connecting functions of several systems to enhance its overall functionality. Many businesses depend on an external vendor for program management purposes. Every SI vendor must have a wide range of skills and in-depth knowledge, and be aware of each project’s risks.
Different Methods of Integration Used
- Horizontal integration
Also known as Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), is an integration strategy that involves the creation of a specialized subsystem. The ESB is meant to act as the single interface of all the other subsystems, which means all subsystems connect directly to it. The ESB’s sole purpose is to translate data between all subsystems connected in the system. This dramatically cuts the price of integration and offers enhanced flexibility. It’s also possible to replace a subsystem with another that would provide the same functionality. However, implementing the new interface between the new subsystem and the ESB can be daunting sometimes and may require the surveillance of an expert.
- Vertical integration
Unlike horizontal integration, vertical integration is the process of combining subsystems according to their actual functionality by designing “silos” of functional entities. The big advantage of this strategy is that the process is done quickly and may require the expertise of only one vendor. This approach is also cheaper than most alternatives. However, the downside of this method is that you can’t reuse existing subsystems to create new functionality. New “silos” must be designed nevertheless.
- Star integration
Also referred as “Spaghetti integration,” is another process of Systems Integration which involves the connection of each subsystem with multiple subsystems. When viewed from a distance, the subsystem connections form the diagram of a star. And when the whole diagram of the new system is complete, the connections appear like spaghetti, hence the reason it was dubbed this name. Costs vary greatly depending on the type of the subsystem’s interface you choose. The great advantage of this method, however, is that it’s easy to reuse and modify a subsystem’s functionality.
- Common Data Format
This integration method helps the system stop having every adapter from being converted to and from other application formats. Systems that use this method create an application which relays semantic transformations of data. Common Data Format is used to convert zip codes to city names, merge and split objects from one application to another and so on.
System Integration for a long time has been used to consolidate security measures in the defense contracting mainstream. Many potential businesses have tapped into this huge opportunity and are using different SI methods to cut unnecessary expenses and accomplish their goals. Thus, it’s important to hire an external vendor adept in the areas around data, security, networking and messaging to obtain optimum results. All the same, go through this handy guide to know about System Integration and which different methods you can use to grow your business.