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Choose EAI tools as SaaS, mobile integrations grow

At JavaOne 2014, Steve Millidge discusses EAI tools that fit with SaaS and mobile integration growth.

Application integration use cases have increased dramatically since the emergence of new, Internet-centric enterprise application environments such as SaaS and hybrid cloud, said Steve Millidge, consultant for C2B2 Consulting in this video taken at JavaOne 2014. Fortunately, existing enterprise application integration (EAI) tools are up to the challenge of connecting far-flung applications.

Enterprise architects have less control when their organizations’ apps are in public clouds, and they face a scenario with more variety, complexity and data types than ever before, Millidge said.

Also known as EAI frameworks, the application integration middleware stack used to handle only application-to-application integration within an organization's internal data center. Today, EAI tools must address cloud, mobile, Internet of Things, on-premise integrations and more, Millidge said. New requirements include data synchronization between SaaS and on-premise apps, cloud service integration, support for deploying an app on many platforms and more.

Technologies in the EAI stack have been changing to meet new needs. Most notably, representational state transfer (REST) and JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) have become the most-used technologies for exposing enterprise applications as APIs, pushing aside simple object access protocol (SOAP) and extensible markup language (XML). Generally, REST and JSON are tailored for ease of use in browser-based interactions and are better supported by mobile development platforms than SOAP. That doesn't mean, however, that SOAP should never be used.

Millidge advises developers to examine the technologies involved in an integration project before making API and other choices. How would REST or SOAP or any technology fit into the current infrastructure, and which ones are familiar to the team, requiring less training? Also, consider that many products have different adapters and plug-ins that integrate best in specific environments, while some suites, like SAP or Oracle, work out of the box.

Of changes coming to EAI, Millidge said that micro-services may create the most vexing manageability problems. More businesses will be building and using micro-services, which are loosely coupled, small- scale services that can be scaled out rapidly. Don't jump in without planning a management approach, and watch out for scalability and dependency issues, he said.

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