Vitor Darela

What is system integration and why it is (really) necessary

3 min

Systems integration solutions can provide your company with greater productivity and quality in business operations. This is because integrated systems provide an increase in the speed of information flows and a reduction in operational costs, in addition to promoting the connectivity necessary to overcome other software or hardware challenges associated with these flows.

In this blog post we will discuss the importance and benefits of systems integration in an organisation, as well as the challenges that the Middleware area can help to overcome.

What is system integration?

Systems integration plays a fundamental role within a company, as it facilitates communication between systems that do not normally communicate. So, what is system integration?

Integration ensures that all systems work together and in harmony to increase productivity and data consistency. In addition, it aims to resolve the complexity associated with increased communication between systems, since they provide a reduction in the impacts of changes that these systems may have.

Taking the example above as an example, this is a scenario of an integration that already exists between two systems that communicate directly without a middleware component intermediating their integration. Imagine that today you have to replace one of these two systems. The impact on the application that already consumes the service is very high, different from when we use a Middleware component such as Enterprise Service Bus, where these consumer applications would hardly have any impact, since nothing would change for the calling systems. This leaves the Middleware in charge of replacing the new system’s call, thus ensuring the uniformity of information across the business ecosystem.

What are the benefits, and why is system integration important?

One of the main benefits of integration is providing critical available information quickly across all systems. This allows the business to take advantage of faster and more assertive decision-making. Systems integration also promotes:

Consistency:

Systems integration allows for the automated exchange of consistent information between different systems. Example: One system may be updated with a customer’s new address, but another system may not be receiving that update. The integration of both systems in this update mitigates the problems associated with inconsistent information, improving the efficiency and overall quality of the associated business processes.

Agility and innovation:

The integration of systems and data between departments and organisations enhances innovation and a higher value offer. In addition to a direct communication line available internally within the organisation and for customers and partners, systems integration solutions can provide access to useful information, streamlining the associated business processes. For example, during the purchase of a product by a customer, the systems integration will allow that using an online platform, they can see what is or is not in stock and what the expected delivery date is. This transparency creates greater confidence in the process and demonstrates that the integration of systems, even where not visible to the user, is a fundamental part of creating value.

Integrating systems, data and processes makes the business more agile and efficient, allowing for an incremental construction approach based on abstraction and reuse, which facilitates the modelling of the global application architecture appropriately in the organisational context.

Is middleware just about creating connections between systems?

Typically, the term ‘Middleware’ refers to the challenge of interconnecting communication between systems: the mediation, transformation, and transport of information from system A to system B. However, Middleware is more than this: it is the centrepiece that manages the diversity and heterogeneity of the entire application connectivity ecosystem in an organisation, serving not only the technical purposes related to protocols, message formats and security, but also functional needs, such as the management of APIs, access and identities.

Every organisation needs to manage access and authentication on different systems. Imagine a corporation managing multiple systems with various modes of authentication and with other user bases, the same point of reflection applies to APIs; exposing APIs to the Internet without control or management of these is very high risk, the effort to maintain a structure controlled without a Middleware component is costly and will bring a lot of headaches.

In conclusion, it is clear that Middleware is not just for integrating systems and centralising from the authentication layer to the control of information transmitted between different applications. Please consult the playbook “Integration and Agility: The Secret of the Digital Revolution” to learn more about these and other integration scenarios.

Vitor DarelaWhat is system integration and why it is (really) necessary
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Full Life Cycle API Management with WSO2

3 min

The growth and constant evolution of the use of computer systems in all areas of human development, together with the need of companies to integrate with each other, besides offering services to their clients through the Internet, results in the multiplication of open systems, which provide services through communication interfaces. Many companies exist only because of this type of integration interface – the so called APIs (Application Program Interface).

Over the years, several network communication protocols have been created to provide standardized data exchange: RPC, CORBA, DCOM, RMI, WebSocket, SOAP (Web Services) and REST. These last three protocols are the most commonly used protocols since they are based on an open HTTP transport protocol, standardizing and popularizing the exchange of data and services, through public or private APIs. The amount of APIs made available by companies, both internally and externally, can grow exponentially in quantity.

Because of these movements there will be a growing need to document and monitor the creation and use of these APIs.

Key features of API Management

Some of the key features of an API management solution include:

  • Performance and Reliability– must support high throughput with reduced overhead;
  • Lifecycle and Governance– should provide workflows for API development and subscription, API versioning and management/monitoring capabilities;
  • Throttling and Monetization– capable of controlling API traffic and charge for API usage;
  • Engagement– easy to onboard new subscribers, providing a good and well documented test environment;
  • Composition and Orchestration– able to implement specific functionality to an API (e.g. call 2 different APIs and return aggregated result).

The WSO2 API lifecycle

WSO2 API Manager overcomes these challenges with a set of features for creating, publishing, lifecycle management, release, monetization, governance, security, etc.

From designing to building and using an API, there is a process that involves engineering, publishing and administration this process is called the API Lifecycle. The life cycle of an API is something crucial and strategic for an organization. Generally, the definition of the life cycle is defined in Planning and Designing the API, Developing the API, Testing the API, Deploying the API, Retiring the API. WSO2 API Manager has more detailed flows for each cycle, where you can create sub flows within each cycle, for example: In the Retiring the API, before doing the removal there is the blocking flow, where when an API is blocked it is possible to deprecate the API or return to the published state. In this way, each company can define its life cycle, and work internally according to its needs. One of the great differentials of WSO2 API Manager is that you have complete freedom to modify all internal flows and customize according to your needs.

By default the WSO2 API Manager defines this cycle between the components below:

Picture 1 – API life cycle and Architecture
  • API Publisher:Is responsible for creating, monitoring, managing, and publishing the APIs. It is the web interface for API Creators and Publishers.
  • API Portal (Developer Portal):Web interface intended for consumers of APIs, developers etc. In this interface it is possible to explore the existing APIs, test, subscribe and monitor all the APIs that were subscribed by the user.
  • API Gateway:The Gateway is the main component of the API Manager, it receives all API calls and forwards to the backend, before forwarding it, it is necessary to pass this request on to Key Manager and Traffic Management to validate all the policies of security before proceeding.
  • Key Manager: responsible for all authentication and security of the API, takes care of all Token Oauth lifecycle management.
  • Traffic Manager: takes care of every part of Throttling’s policy, thus verifying if the calls belong to some user with limitation of request in that API and if the user has not exhausted his limit of requests.
  • Analytics:Analytics is a real-time analytics engine, which in addition to exposing detailed graphs about the APIs, also takes care of the real-time monitoring part generating several types of alerts such as security incident, abnormal calls to a certain API, etc.

WSO2 API Manager is a very robust and complete API solution, having as a differential its entire graphical implementation interface, which differs a lot from the competitors that have a greater focus on the Gateway, to build a robust gateway and not giving much focus to the other components needed for the API lifecycle such as the Store and the Publisher. WSO2 came out ahead with this product because it was able to meet all aspects of full solution either with a very robust gateway as well as an intuitive interface facilitating deploy and the entire lifecycle. Due to this, in the Gartner quadrant, the WSO2 API Manager is considered as a “Visionary”.

Just to get an idea of the robustness of the product, with a minimum recommended configuration, each node can support up to 3000 TPS (Transactions Per Second).

If you’d like to know more about WSO2 API Manager and its features, go to WSO2 API Manager web site and explore all implementation possibilities.

Vitor Darela

Senior Consultant, Xpand IT

Vitor DarelaFull Life Cycle API Management with WSO2
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