Find out what integration software solutions are, why your business needs one, and which one is right for you with our guide to the best solutions on the market.
OpenLegacy’s Guide to Integration Software Solutions
With constantly evolving systems, software, and apps, finding the most efficient solutions for your business can seem daunting. CRM is useful for sales and marketing, e-signature software can help your sales staff, and marketers may rely on marketing automation, but if these apps and software only worked in isolation, your staff’s workload would double or even triple.
In order to make workflows more streamlined, your various tech systems need to be able to communicate and work together. That’s where integration software solutions are vital.
But what is integration software, how does it bring together these various tools—and why is it so important?
What is an integration software solution?
A software integration solution connects the various tools, apps, and software you use, creating a unified system that streamlines workflows and makes it easier for teams to work efficiently.
Integration software solutions can be used in various scenarios across your workplace and are essential if you have the same systems being used by different teams or data that needs to be shared across teams or locations.
For example, they can be used in the following ways:
- In data warehouses, where you need a 360-degree view of your data as it moves through ETL (extract, transform, and load) processes that move data from multiple sources into a single, unified ‘library’.
- When you’re migrating from old-fashioned legacy systems to a new database, whether storage is in-house or cloud-based.
- For integrating stand-alone systems so that they work together to provide a replication of your processes and workflows, offering uniformity in your results.
- To link the various systems you regularly use, such as file systems and/or databases.
With the amount of data that businesses collect and process increasing, you may need to use multiple systems for processing and storage. This data could include customer and supplier data, sales data, or information on the efficiency of your marketing efforts.
Integration software solutions can also help if you’re using cloud-based data warehouses to hold massive amounts of data and provide you with different types of information.
Software integration uses four main methods:
- Vertical integration. This is when software is integrated based on the functionalities you require.
- ESB (enterprise service bus). This method uses a customized sub-system to allow various systems to communicate with each other in real-time.
- Common data format integration. This solution operates independently of applications to ensure all your data is accessible in one format and doesn’t need to be converted into different formats to meet the needs of any single application.
- Star system integration. This method enables the interconnection of a sub-system with other sub-systems via point-to-point connections.
Types of integration software solutions and how they work
A good way to think of integration software solutions is as roads that connect different towns, allowing for easy communication. Just as there are different types of roads for different journeys, there are also different types of integration software for different tasks.
These are the main types are and how they work.
API integration is perhaps the most common way for organizations to connect a variety of programs, from applications to databases, but what’s an API?
Standing for application program interface, this type of integration tool achieves connection by using sets of common coding languages. This allows your programs to share and access each other’s data and/or functionalities.
Webhooks are another way of allowing apps to communicate. They send automated messages to each other whenever a significant event happens. For example, if a customer pays an invoice via a payment app, that app notifies other relevant programs that payment has been received.
Webhooks work in a similar way to SMS messages; each app has your ‘number’ and sends a message when an event specific to that app occurs.
With ISCs (integrated services components), you can easily import or export data from one place to another. Because they can make data transfer simpler, ISCs are a useful tool for database administrators. They also allow for a high degree of interoperability between programs and apps.
Orchestration allows you to integrate applications and/or services to achieve real-time process automation or data synchronization. Orchestration provides capabilities for transformation, routing, and security, as well as a way to manage and track the efficiency of integrations.
Orchestration can help you avoid the dependencies that often arise with point-to-point integration. It also allows you to decouple different applications from each other.
How an integration solution supports workplace efficiency
Just as communication between towns and cities would be difficult without roads or telephone lines, workplace efficiency is far more difficult to achieve and maintain without integration solutions to connect the various apps and systems.
Integrating your systems and tools allows them to function together and share relevant information. In essence, this allows for complete transparency of any and all data, whether for internal communications or external use, for example, communication and exchanges of information with customers and suppliers.
In modern business, there are now virtually no organizations that rely on a single software system, and larger corporations often use multiple, complex systems.
By integrating these systems, a centralized network that allows access to data for all relevant users can be created. Using Hybrid integration to achieve this can thus help propel your business forward into embracing digital transformation.
Without integration solutions, your staff would have to manually input data into the various programs and tools you use. Therefore, an integration solution saves time that can be spent on other tasks as well as reduces the likelihood of human error that manual processes produce.
They also provide an enhanced network that shares data across all areas of your business and helps optimize operational efficiency.
The best integration software tools on the market
So, you can see the importance and benefits that come from using a good integration software solution. The obvious next question is, “What is the best integration tool that will meet your needs?”
The following are some of the top choices currently available on the market.
OpenLegacy is an efficient integration as a service platform that should rank highly on your shortlist. It can generate APIs straight from your legacy system, which means you can deploy them quickly and easily.
It also offers an automated syntax production process, which means you can either create as many new backend systems as you need or modify existing legacy systems.
Additionally, OpenLegacy helps eliminate overly complex operations and organizes processes so API integrations are straightforward. This allows you to create or replace integrations and make connections across multiple systems with maximum ease.
Zapier helps create connections between apps and workflows. Known as ‘Zaps’, these connections automate communication between your systems. One of the main advantages of Zapier is that it’s intuitive and easy to use, so you don’t need a developer to ensure good levels of integration. This makes it simple to create effective workflows to structure your apps and make them faster.
However, Zapier lacks the level of customization that some organizations may want when it comes to more complex integration. It often performs slowly, too, which might put some potential users off.
The integration platform Workato offers a no-code, drag-and-drop interface for the creation and management of automated workflows known as "recipes". With pre-built connectors and templates for a wide range of popular applications and services, these recipes can connect and synchronize data between different apps, automate tasks, and streamline business processes.
Alongside its user-friendly drag-and-drop interface, Workato provides scalability, flexibility, and real-time data flow tracking. However, the platform can have a steep learning curve as its intricacies need to be fully understood before complex integrations can be created.
Make offers an integration platform that allows a lot of freedom when it comes to designing, building, and automating various functionalities across your business operation. It handily lets you visualize workflows as you build them and also offers scalability when you need it.
Drag-and-drop interfaces mean that you don’t need specialist skills to use Make. You can also track data flows in real time.
As with some other solutions, one issue may be that Make isn’t always intuitive for new users.
Previously owned by Dell, Boomi is widely recognized as a reliable and robust integration platform that orchestrates data while connecting applications and processes. It offers customizable UI templates, which allow users to create integrations that meet their unique needs, alongside data analysis to help improve functionality.
A pioneer of cloud-based iPaaS, Boomi now partners with OpenLegacy for legacy system integrations. This allows the substantial platform to handle more complex integrations with mainframes such as VSAM, IMS, IBM I (AS400) and COBOL.
Choosing the right integration solution for your business
As with any other tech solution, deciding on the best integration option for your organization must be carefully thought out and planned.
So, what factors should you take into consideration?
The first step is to outline what your organizational needs are. Your management team should collaborate closely to identify your current capabilities and needs.
Make a list of the things you want to improve now and also what your needs may be in the future.
Once you know your needs, your IT team should conduct an in-depth analysis to see how realistic these are and if anything needs to be added or removed from your list.
Be prepared to accept budget suggestions from your IT professionals, as spending more money now may save you time and money later.
Once a plan has been agreed upon, your software developer (internal or external) can design a system architecture that will work with the integration solution. This is essential when it comes to how different systems will integrate and work together.
A crucial part of any plan regarding integration software development is how the project will be managed. This includes risk factors, a timeline for implementation, and who’ll be responsible for oversight and reporting.
You also need to have contingency plans in case anything goes wrong.
Once you’ve completed the various planning steps, you can decide which solution best suits you and your needs. Think about things such as scalability; will the solution you choose still suit your needs in a year or more?
With everything in place, you can start implementing your solution, ensuring it works well and that QA needs are met. Begin your integrations according to a plan made by IT, and then start training staff on how to use the solution.
Once implemented and moving forward, it’s important that you consistently check the system to ensure it’s carrying out the required functions correctly.
By doing this, errors can quickly be picked up and rectified. Regular diagnostics will help you get the best out of your solution.
Navigate integration software solutions with ease—consider OpenLegacy
So, why should you consider OpenLegacy? Put simply, it’s a solution that enables you to develop and deploy new digital services with efficiency and speed. It removes the need for extra tech layers and connects directly to your system—even if that system is a complex legacy one. It can also support your CI/CD processes.
Essentially, OpenLegacy offers an all-in-one solution that helps integrate your apps and software as well as modernize your systems. With high degrees of automation, you can create digital services and deploy them to the cloud or any other framework of your choosing.
It can also help improve functionality and the management of all your assets now and in the future.
FAQs about integration software solutions
Will integration hurt your data integrity?
If you choose a reliable solution, then your integrity should not be affected. Ensure that all datasets are cleaned before integration and that data is secured and only accessible by authorized people. You’ll also want to run tests to be sure that transfers and integrations work as expected.
What is the impact of system integration on a software product?
Once successfully implemented, system integration should link different systems and apps so they work together. You can choose whether integration is mono-directional or bi-directional (i.e. whether it works one-way or both ways). This will mean your data and functionality flow seamlessly between systems.
What are the benefits of software integration?
As part of digital transformation, software integration brings plenty of benefits. You’ll see better productivity as you move away from manual processes, and be able to easily monitor business performance as all your data is centralized. This, in turn, leads to better decision-making, as you can visualize operations in real-time.
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