What a Systems Integrator must consider

There are several aspects to systems integration that must be considered by the systems integrator, these include:

  • Matching data
  • Master source of data
  • Timeliness of updates
  • Physical interface mechanisms
  • Transport medium
  • Value of interface

Matching data

Every system will have a different way of identifying key records.  When the task is to integrate multiple systems, there must be a common way of identifying these records.  This may mean that key information may need to be transferred from one system to the other just to maintain a common reference.  For instance, a customer identifier may need to be copied from the master data store to the secondary so that later updates are kept inline.  MYOB uses the name of an account as the key identifier.  Therefore whenever new customers are generated, wherever they are generated, the spelling of the name must be kept in line.

Master source of data

Whenever mutiple systems are intergrated, one system has to be the master source.  The secondary system may allow updates to the data but the primary source will ultimately overwrite the secondary system.  It may be that parts of one system is the master while other parts are secondary.  In this way systems can be merged.

Timeliness of updates

The consideration must be given to when the systems are updated at different rates.  Sometimes systems are brought up to date weekly.  This is fine so long as any integrated systems are not expecting that the figures are up to date each day.  When interfacing with hardware, often the time considerations are down at the millisecond level.  With any real-time interface, the timings must be down to the second.  Most hardware will timeout if the message has not been completed within a 30-second window.

Physical Interface mechanisms

There are many interface mechanisms available.  This can be the text based downloads/uploads or interfaces through an API.  It may be possible to interface directly through a database.  There are often complicated protocols that are required.  Sometimes Mintec has needed to use screen scraping techniques or form loading techniques.  The choices are really depend upon what suits the packages better.  Any time a new system is being interface to, an amount of research is required to decide upon the best technique.

Transport medium

If two systems are to be interface and then there must be a medium to carry the data.  Now days there are many different opportunities available.  This can be direct network connection or emails or NextG network connections.   Consideration must be given to the speed of the transport medium compared with the size of the data that is being carried.  This will there are often impact the cost of the system as well.

Value of interface

With any implementation, the cost must be compared against the value gained.  For instance there is little benefit in downloading a lot of data to a system does have had overridden in a few days.  Even then this may be critical to the operation but it needs to be considered.

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