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The Application Integration pattern (also known as Enterprise Application Integration or EAI) serves to integrate multiple Business patterns or to integrate applications and data within an individual Business pattern. It is applicable when integrating applications and data within the bounds of an organization.
The requirements that gave rise to this pattern call for the seamless execution of multiple applications and access to their respective data in order to automate a complex, new business function. Reliable integration of applications-be they legacy stovepipe applications, packaged software applications, or custom applications-requires the use of proven, repeatable patterns. At its highest level, application integration can be divided into two essentially different approaches:
Process-focused integration: The integration of the functional flow of processing between the applications.
Data-focused integration: The integration of the information used by applications.
Neither approach is necessarily better than the other. Rather, specific integration requirements dictate which approach best solves a given business problem. For example, the integration of an e-commerce application with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for a newly created sales order would most definitely be a Process-focused integration activity. However, in the same solution, the master data synchronization of the product catalog between the ERP system and the e-commerce system would be a Data-focused integration activity.
Critical to selecting the right Application Integration pattern is an understanding of the integration requirements of the business problem being automated. Some examples of key questions to ask in determining an appropriate EAI design are listed in 3.1.5, "Application Integration solution requirements" on page 36.
Certain types of integration between applications can be accomplished at the user interface level as well, as covered in the Access Integration pattern.
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