In an increasingly complex application landscape in which web services, off-the-shelf software and home-grown individual applications generate and consume huge volumes of data, the integration of corporate data is a must. Can an Enterprise Service Bus reduce the effort to accomplish this? And what exactly does an Enterprise Service Bus mean?
Since information technology has been supporting companies’ business processes for quite some time, the integration of data has also always been an issue. Whereas data streams historically ran somewhat unidirectionally – and clearly to central applications (such as POS data to ERP, and financial data to FI&CO), today’s service-oriented application architecture requires bidirectional data exchange between different applications and services.
The application landscape in most companies is a disparate structure that has grown with the successive implementation of sub-system processes and in which ERPs, Web services and legacy systems (especially: legacy applications) hopefully performed their respective subtasks as best they could. Not surprisingly, the integration of individual components becomes more complex and confusing over time. A multitude of point-to-point connections attempts to make relevant data available where it is needed at the moment.
This can, and in most cases does, work, but there are two aspects that are worth noting: On the one hand, the effort for necessary changes becomes increasingly higher. At a time when new or changed business models are the order of the day and IT needs rapid support, this can become a significant time and cost factor.
On the other hand, business logic, which is increasingly important for integration, is often hardwired to the actual data exchange and cannot be adapted separately. This reduces flexibility and rapid response to new requirements.
What does the Enterprise Service Bus do?
For reasons described above, the IT industry sought out concepts in the early 2000s to make integration and data flow between individual services and applications more agile and cost-effective. The term Enterprise Service Bus was coined and still describes both the underlying architectural concept and software products that support its implementation.
The central idea is the creation of a communication channel (bus) in which all information and messages are exchanged in a standardized format. This is perhaps comparable with an additional corridor in the office, in which files can be stored and picked up by others at any time).
The actual access to the respective service or application is controlled with the help of so-called (decentralized) adapters, which bring the relevant information into a target format and make it available to “their” service.
How useful is an ESB for my company?
The question of effort and benefit is, of course, pivotal when it comes to data integration. The term “Enterprise” might tempt you to design an oversized software solution (“Let’s do it !”), whereas the good old “interface” would actually be perfectly sufficient.
However, for companies that must integrate a multitude of independent services and applications and distribute multi-layered information and messages to service providers and service users, the ESB can fundamentally simplify processes.
There are numerous providers of software products that can provide an ESB and assist in its introduction, but the introduction of additional software is by no means the end of the road. Efficient and flexible integration architecture initially requires much internal communication and a robust design. Only in the later stages does the software become relevant.
knk Integration Platform
knk IP is not a classic ESB in the strictest sense. However, with its universal applicability, flexibility, format standardization and business logic, it fulfills the central criteria for agile and efficient data integration.
In particular, knk IP ensures seamless data flow and data quality during the automated creation and updating of master data, generated in another service (e.g. web shop). Inconsistent data can be supplemented with integrated mapping functions.
With individually configurable options and check values at the field level, “adapters” can be created – to use an ESB term – that require direct processing by an employee only in the event of a conflict.
As already mentioned above: A well thought-out data integration process is the result of a good design and the selection of the appropriate software for implementation. One of the keys to further market success! knk will be happy to support you. At every step!