What is application integration?
Application integration is the process of getting independently built software systems to work together without manual intervention. Modern application design encourages the flexible exchange of data between applications for increased efficiency, modularity, and reusability. Application integration allows your developers to build applications that reuse existing services and systems. This way, they can do more with less coding. It also facilitates automation, as applications can communicate with each other for complex enterprise workflows.
What are the benefits of application integration?
Integrating applications has many benefits, so long as the underlying software calls for that added functionality or data integration.
People are naturally more productive when they don’t need to switch between different applications. Integrating data and functionality from other apps allows users to do more tasks in one application, removing the need for context-switching.
Application integration also leads to more automation across business processes, particularly if data is transformed and workflows are built out correctly. With a higher degree of process automation, human resources are freed up. People can concentrate on the important requirements of their role that can't be automated.
Supports data integration
One of the biggest barriers to efficiency is the data silos that exist across many different applications in all types of systems. It can be extremely difficult to combine data from disparate components in enterprise data architecture. All-in-one enterprise applications, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, exist but may be cost-prohibitive or rigid for many businesses.
Instead, organizations can use multiple lower-cost standalone applications with data integration interfaces to extract, combine, and analyze their data.
Enhances customer appeal
When buyers make software purchase decisions, they examine many pros and cons, features, and limitations.
Many end users expect applications and services to interoperate with one another. Software products that offer a wide range of built-in integrations are often looked at more favorably. This is particularly true if your user has already purchased one or more of the existing solutions.
You can integrate popular applications with your application, such as adding an email or social media account login methods. You can then meet the usability expectations of a larger group and increase your customer base.
Lowers development costs
To build software, developers use libraries and frameworks that perform complex functions, so they don't have to write that code themselves.
Application integration is similar. You can securely and efficiently reuse functions and data from other applications. When you integrate another application’s data and functions into yours, you instantly build new capabilities. Many times, such features wouldn’t otherwise be possible or would take too long to code. The cost to develop an application is much lower, and it can be built much faster.
What are the use cases of application integration?
Integration is useful in almost any software application across every industry. Application integration can be used for internal, public or external-facing, and legacy applications.
In large enterprises, there are many private, internal applications that are only used within the business. You can develop these applications so that inter-application communication and data flow is possible.
For instance, human resources (HR) systems may integrate with employee training platforms. Or customer relationship management (CRM) systems can integrate with email communication mechanisms.
When a public or external-facing application has application integration interfaces, the application is more useful to your customers or the community.
For instance, a publicly available time-tracking app could offer API functions like adding new projects or exporting a week’s values. A developer or automation specialist could then use the interfaces to connect the time-tracker to their internal project management system.
Legacy applications are applications that are old, cumbersome, and often require workarounds for users. Despite drawbacks, many are widely used due to the cost involved in rebuilding them.
Retiring these applications may not possible under current business operations. So, application integration is often a great solution. You can build interfaces for these applications. Then you can build a new application that will be user-facing. This hides the legacy application itself from users while removing manual workarounds.
What are common application integration mechanisms?
There are a range of different ways to approach application integration. The best integration process depends on what is available, cost, time, and other constraints such as performance, security, and software supply chain management demands.
An API a mechanism that enables two software components to communicate with each other using a set of definitions and protocols. In code, it is represented as externally facing module stubs to a private application. These module stubs include a function that calls an internal function within the private application, returning a value. The API module stub typically has a description for developers to read to ensure correct operation.
APIs can be built in various standardized ways. For example, you can choose whether to use gPRC or REST.
The event bus is used in event-driven software development. It's a pipeline that receives events and connects application components together based on events.
It uses a publish and subscribe system. Applications can publish public events, and others can subscribe to them to consume them. For instance, a submit click event in one application may trigger another application to increase a counter for the number of submissions received.
Messaging protocols and standards
Different messaging protocols and standards allow applications to communicate with one another. For instance, HTTP and Webhooks are widely used protocols for inter-application communication over the web. Standard messaging formats include JSON and XML.
When you choose protocols and standards for enterprise application integration, consider using the most popular choices within your industry.
No-code application integration software
In the past, to integrate two apps through their APIs, you needed to hire a developer to code a solution. With no-code application integration tools, non-technical users can integrate two or more software applications. They can also build custom workflows between the software. These applications act as an integration platform. They consume popular application APIs and offer an easy-to-use UI.
How can AWS help with application integration?
Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers fully managed services for application integration. With application integration on AWS, you can enable communication between decoupled components within microservices, distributed systems, and serverless applications.
You don’t need to refactor your entire architecture to benefit. At any scale, decoupling applications reduces the impact of changes. When you decouple applications, it’s easier to update and faster to release new features.
Here are AWS services that help you integrate applications:
- Amazon API Gateway helps your developers to create, publish, monitor, and secure APIs for application integration.
- Amazon AppFlow is a no-code integration platform designed for communications between software as a service (SaaS) and AWS services
- AWS AppSync helps your developers create an API to access, edit, and combine data across multiple data sources
- Amazon EventBridge helps your developers build a managed enterprise service bus for event-driven architectures
- Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) is a high-throughput publish and subscribe messaging service for application-to-application (A2A) integration
Get started with application integration on AWS by creating an account today.
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