How can an organization integrate personal productivity applications running on Windows used for custom reporting, analysis, and forecasting with relevant data from core business applications that operate on a variety of centralized or distributed systems? This business data may well be stored in several RDBMS systems such as Oracle, DB2, Informix, Sybase, or other popular database systems. The core applications could be used on an Intel-based server running Windows 2000, a RISC-based server running some version of the UNIX operating system (Sun Solaris, IBM AIX, HP-UX, SGI IRIX, Linux, or FreeBSD, for example), an IBM AS/400 system, or an IBM or compatible mainframe. In fact, critical business data in larger organizations is likely to be stored on several different hardware platforms and operating systems.
This is a general problem facing many organizations where a variety of computer information systems are in use. The challenge is to provide application integration as simply and inexpensively as possible. Companies have made very large investments in business applications over time. These software applications often manage critical business information and are essential for the operation of the department, division, or company. In addition, company staffs are trained on these systems and know how to use these business applications. It would be far too costly to replace these existing software applications in the near term. Integrating applications using the data sources can provide a low-cost way to provide application integration without making costly changes to these existing applications.
Integrating desktop reporting applications with remote data sources
To adequately understand the business problem and the solutions that is proposed in this chapter, it is important to review a number of related topics, including the database and operating systems involved, the interactions in question, and some of the different possible models for integration based on data transformation and movement.