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Enterprise Application Integration enterprise application integration

-- Shaurya Babu

Introduction

Consider this ……

  • You have an existing custom-built ERP software (built on Oracle).
  • You want to add a new module to enable online purchasing and integrate this with the existing sales, inventory control and accounting modules of the ERP package.
  • You’re looking at Microsoft due to cost implications of using Oracle.
  • You would also like it to be future proof, and to be able to integrate with vendors and clients software applications that are being developed.

Processes involved

Before going into an in-depth analysis of how this can be done, it would be wise to get familiarized with some of the buzzwords in the industry today.

ERP

In today's dynamic and turbulent business environment, there is a strong need for the organizations to become globally competitive. The survival guide to competitiveness is to be closer to the customer and deliver value-added products and services in the shortest possible time. This, in turn, demands integration of business processes of an enterprise. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is such a strategic tool, which helps the company gain a competitive edge by integrating all business processes and optimizing the resources available.

Supply chain integration

It's the Holy Grail of business-to-business commerce. will help you remotely monitor all your staff cell phone activities. With it, you can give your company's suppliers an up-to-the-second view of your production needs, manufacturing operations, and even product development. That lets suppliers deliver their stuff to you exactly when you need it -- and it lets you reduce production time, costs, and the amount of expensive inventory you're keeping around. The first step to the development of an ERP software is to capture all aspects of a business model. A useful approach is shown in the figure below.

Supply Chain Integration
Source:http://www.ascet.com/documents.asp?d_ID=426

Clearly, business models must change, particularly in today's rapidly evolving business climate. Companies find themselves with a difficult choice, accepting the status quo, and risking competitive stagnation or redefining their business model, a journey fraught with potential disaster. Despite the inherent difficulties, many leading companies are making radical changes to their core logic of value creation.

As they do so, we consider them to be advancing on the continuum shown in the figure below, which serves as a road map to the change journey. Maximizing the value of any supply chain involves first integrating supply chain operations within the company itself, for instance, making sales and logistics operate together with the customer in mind. The second step requires collaboration with vendors and customers, for example, on shared forecasts. The final level is synchronization of the supply chain into one logical enterprise, operating it as a fully linked and optimized capability from suppliers to customers. But a further analysis of the subject would deviate from the problem at hand so let’s move to the next most important tool in providing a solution for you, EAI.

 

Enterprise Application Integration
Click for larger diagram.
source: http://www.ascet.com/documents.asp?d_ID=426


EAI

This is a concise introduction to EAI concepts and strategies for IT managers, systems architects, software developers, and all those charged with heading up their companies' EAI initiatives.

Implementing an EAI solution consists of 8 major steps

  1. Identifying sources of data
  2. Building the enterprise metadata model
  3. Process integration
  4. Identifying application interfaces
  5. Mapping information movement
  6. Selecting and applying the technologies
  7. Testing and
  8. Maintenance

The next question would be how to use enterprise application integration to solve problems in an organization

  1. By defining the specific problem
  2. Choosing the best among the several types of architecture and
  3. Working with the best implementation technologies available

Unless there is a universal computer system or technology stops evolving, there will always be a need for IT integration. Integration has been a solution to the business problem of connecting dissimilar systems for many years. In the last year or so, it has gained growing acceptance as the prerequisite for CRM, Supply Chain Management and other e-Business initiatives. In the past, integration has been avoided because it was viewed as difficult, costly and often hard to justify with realistic Return On Investment (ROI) estimates. However, with the functions contained in the maturing CRM e-Business products, costs are easier to calculate, and consequently, so is ROI. The business benefits provided by integration are now more easily justified.

Technology available

Now that we have all the processes lined up, let’s have a look at the all the tools available on the market targeted towards projects just like these.

BizTalk Server 2000

BizTalk Server 2000 offers a suite of tools and services that make building business processes and integrating applications fundamentally faster. You can quickly implement secure, reliable trading partner relationships independent of operating systems, programming models, or programming languages.

  • Build Dynamic Business Processes

    The BizTalk Server infrastructure helps you to quickly integrate, manage, and automate dynamic business processes by exchanging business documents among applications within or across organizational boundaries. With all of the tools companies need for business process orchestration, BizTalk Server helps you build processes that span not only applications, but also businesses, over the Internet. Graphical tools make it easy for business analysts and application developers to model and implement solutions for your business.

  • Easily Integrate Applications and Business Partners

    BizTalk Server 2000 makes it easy for developers to integrate applications and businesses. Business analysts and application developers benefit from a host of rich graphical tools for building XML schemas, performing schema transformations, establishing trading partner relationships over the Internet, and tracking and analyzing data and documents that are exchanged. With support for XML and standard Internet technologies, BizTalk Server 2000 extends the features of traditional e-commerce and electronic data interchange (EDI) to entire e-commerce communities.

  • Ensure Interoperability by Using Public Standards

    With extensive support for public standards and specifications such as XML, EDI, and HTTP, and with security standards such as public key encryption and digital signatures, BizTalk Server 2000 ensures the highest level of interoperability and security with your applications and business partners.

Commerce Server 2000

Commerce Server 2000 offers users a less complicated and less time-consuming way to build tailored, effective e-commerce solutions. By providing the application framework, together with sophisticated feedback mechanisms and analytical capabilities, Commerce Server allows you to quickly develop sites that optimize the customer experience, encouraging repeat business and forging tighter partner relationships.

  • Build Effective, User-Centric Solutions

    Commerce Server 2000 provides the critical e-commerce infrastructure needed to build an effective online business. User profiling and management, product and service management, transaction processing, and targeted marketing and merchandising are all integrated to create a comprehensive system customizable for your specific needs. Build customer and partner loyalty and increase profitability with an integrated personalization, merchandising, and buying system that provides the foundation for effective business-to-consumer and business-to-business solutions.

    Commerce Server 2000 includes the critical components for building or extending your online business. Functionality is combined to manage product and client information, and to streamline and refine online business processes. The Profile, Targeting, Product Catalog, and Business Process Pipelines systems function together seamlessly to enhance the user experience by delivering one-to-one marketing capabilities.

  • Faster Time to Market

    Slash time to market without sacrificing functionality and customization. Commerce Server 2000 reduces the complexity and the time required to build, deploy, and maintain tailored, effective electronic commerce solutions. From fully functional out-of-the-box starter sites, a comprehensive software development kit (SDK), to administrative tools, Commerce Server makes it easy for you to create sites quickly that are tailored to meet your business needs. Pre-built applications for sell-side business-to-business and retail e-commerce provide the framework and business processes that can be readily tailored or extended with in-house development or the industry's largest selection of third-party add-ons.

    Commerce Server 2000 gives developers the power to quickly build and deploy effective e-commerce sites, providing administrative tools that simplify and centralize administrative tasks. The Commerce Server 2000 platform also offers many areas where independent software vendors (ISVs) add value such as credit card validation, taxation, shipping & handling, content management, and Business Internet Analytics (BIA).

  • Empower Business Managers

    Give those accountable for the business the control to manage the online business day to day. With Commerce Server 2000, business managers have the control to maximize the effectiveness of their online site. Empower your business managers to close the loop with customers and partners by giving them both the decision support they need and the real-time feedback loop — the loop that enables them to be responsive to the ever-changing needs of customers and partners. By closing the loop, business managers offer highly personalized and relevant content to your site users. This converts browsers into buyers and ultimately impacts your company's bottom line.

    Commerce Server 2000 incorporates advanced business analytics and centralized management that empowers business managers to quickly respond to changing customer needs.

Application Center 2000

Application Center 2000 is Microsoft's deployment and management tool for high-availability Web applications built on the Microsoft Windows® 2000 operating system. Application Center 2000 makes managing groups of servers as simple as managing a single computer. This overview addresses high-level information on Application Center 2000, touching on application management, software scaling, and mission-critical availability.

  • Simplified Application Management

    Application Center 2000 empowers developers and Web site administrators to deploy applications quickly and easily while minimizing the in-depth application knowledge requirements. This in turn reduces the complexity and cost of operating a scalable, highly available application.

  • Software Scaling

    Software scaling increases the capacity of an application by adding servers. While hardware scaling requires expensive, specialized servers, software scaling can be achieved using standard off-the-shelf servers. In addition, with software scaling, the relationship of cost to added capacity is close to linear.

    Application Center 2000 simplifies software scaling using an idea called clustering. Although many different technologies have described themselves as clustering, the fundamental idea is a simple one: a group of servers used as a single, unified resource. By bringing the servers together into a cluster, many servers can be managed as easily as one.

    In the past, software scaling was a time-consuming and resource-intensive operation. With Application Center 2000, creating and running a group of servers is designed to be as simple as operating a single server.

  • Mission-Critical Availability

    Application Center 2000 is designed so that any server may be brought down without affecting the availability of the application. There is no single point of failure. This means applications can have the necessary mission-critical availability using off-the-shelf hardware.

Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2000

Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2000 provides secure, fast, and manageable Internet connectivity. ISA Server integrates an extensible, multilayer enterprise firewall and a scalable high-performance Web cache. It builds on Microsoft Windows® 2000 security and directory for policy-based security, acceleration, and management of internetworking.

ISA Server comes in two editions, Standard Edition and Enterprise Edition. Both have the same rich feature set, although Standard Edition is a stand-alone server supporting a maximum of four processors. For large-scale deployments, server array support, multi-level policy, and computers with more than four processors, you will need ISA Server Enterprise Edition.

Read below for more information about how ISA Server provides secure Internet connectivity, fast Web access, and unified management.

  • Secure Internet Connectivity

    Connecting your networks to the Internet introduces security and productivity concerns that require your business' valuable technology resources. ISA Server provides your organization with a fast and comprehensive means to control access and monitor usage, freeing your network administrators to respond to your business' and customers' needs. ISA Server protects networks from unauthorized access, inspects traffic, and alerts network administrators to attacks.

    ISA Server includes an extensible, multilayer enterprise firewall featuring security with packet-, circuit-, and application-level traffic screening, stateful inspection, broad application support, integrated virtual private networking (VPN), system hardening, integrated intrusion detection, smart application filters, transparency for all clients, advanced authentication, secure server publishing, and more

  • Fast Web Access

    The Internet offers organizations exciting productivity benefits, but only if access to Web content is fast and cost effective. The ISA Server Web cache can maximize performance and save network bandwidth resources by storing and serving locally cached Web content. This allows employees to work faster and improves bottom line performance by reducing your purchase of additional Internet access.

  • Unified Management

    By combining enterprise firewall and high-performance Web cache functions, ISA Server provides a common management infrastructure that reduces network complexity and costs. Whether opting to deploy as an integrated system or as just a firewall or cache, you get the benefit of integrated management. ISA Server is tightly integrated with Windows 2000, providing a consistent and powerful way to manage group access, configuration, and rules.

  • Extensible, Open Platform

    Security policies and imperatives vary from organization to organization. Traffic volume and content formats also pose unique concerns. No one product fits all security and performance needs, so ISA Server is built to be highly extensible. You will find a comprehensive software developer’s kit (SDK) for in-house development, a large selection of third-party add-on solutions, and an extensible administration option.

Conclusion

The technology used for the development of the new modules for the existing ERP software, the level of reintegration required within the supply chain, the ROI are all factors influencing each other. The market is wide open with a number of vendors offering solutions for every type of requirement and which one suits you best can be best decided by weighing cost and performance factors.

The wide spread change over to Internet driven ERP software, the
reliability and security of transactions over VPNs (Virtual private
Networks) and the advancements they offer over more traditional systems, all show that the scene has never been better for an EAI.

In addition to Enterprise Application Integration, we offer services like Business Process Engineering and Porting Legacy applications to the web. Please contact us here for more details.

 


 
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