In the context of information technology and systems, Integration refers to the process of linking together different computing systems and software applications physically or functionally, to act as a coordinated whole. The goal is to streamline and automate business processes to the greatest extent possible and to allow different systems to communicate and interact with each other effectively.

Integration can take many forms:

  1. System Integration: This involves integrating all the individual systems and applications within an organization so they work together. For instance, an organization might integrate its inventory management system with its e-commerce website, so that stock levels are automatically updated whenever a sale is made online.
  2. Data Integration: This involves combining data from different sources and providing users with a unified view of these data. A common example is in a data warehouse, where data from multiple databases are integrated into one comprehensive data repository for business intelligence purposes.
  3. Application Integration (Enterprise Application Integration or EAI): This involves linking applications within a single organization in order to simplify and automate business processes to the greatest extent possible, while at the same time maintaining the integrity of data and current enterprise applications. Middleware is often used in this context to connect different applications.

Integration can provide numerous benefits, such as improved efficiency, better data accuracy and consistency, and enhanced decision-making capabilities. However, it can also be complex and challenging, due to the need to reconcile different system requirements, data formats, and interfaces.

A prominent example of integration is found in Salesforce, a popular customer relationship management platform. It integrates with a wide variety of other systems and platforms, such as email systems, data management platforms, and other sales tools, allowing for a unified view of customer data and streamlined sales processes.

See Also

  1. Middleware: Middleware is software that lies between applications and the underlying operating systems, network protocol stacks, and hardware. It plays a critical role in integration, as it allows different applications to communicate and interact with each other.
  2. Application Programming Interface (API): APIs are sets of protocols and tools for building software and applications. They allow different software programs to communicate with each other and are often used in integration to enable interaction between different systems.
  3. Enterprise Service Bus (ESB): An ESB is a software architecture model used for designing and implementing communication between mutually interacting software applications in a service-oriented architecture (SOA). It serves as a middle layer in integration to facilitate communication between different applications.
  4. Service Oriented Architecture (SOA): SOA is a style of software design where services are provided to other components via a communication protocol over a network. It's often used in application integration, as it allows for the reuse of services and components across different applications.
  5. Microservices: Microservices - also known as the microservices architecture - is an architectural style that structures an application as a collection of services that are highly maintainable and testable, loosely coupled, independently deployable, and organized around business capabilities. In a microservices architecture, integration becomes a key concern, as services need to communicate effectively with each other.