Application integration software: A buyer's guide

Last updated:December 2015

Editor's note

In a time when information transactions, both internal and external, are becoming exponentially more complex, application integration has never been more important. The need for faster and more accurate data has become essential in the mobile-driven economy that expects immediate results. Slow or wrong information can disrupt a small business transaction, ruin a customer's experience or interrupt product development. In the end, it could drastically affect the bottom line.

Application integration software, in its many iterations, is designed to make a clear, efficient path for information to travel from application to application. With so many different categories of application integration tools and so many options within those categories, selecting the right tool for your enterprise can be a daunting task. This buyer's guide helps you assess your enterprise's IT needs and find the right application integration software that can best meet those needs.

Before diving into the selection process, this guide presents a quick definition of application integration, and how it has changed throughout the years. What was once a simple one-way street for information to travel has now become a complex interstate highway system as data travels to and from applications. Add to that cloud computing and the number of ways an application can be deployed makes that highway system even thornier.

Determining your need for application integration software is easy. If you have many applications and those applications have many components, then you need application integration software. Determining which type of tool you need is the hard part. This guide will help you make that choice and then present different key products within each category. Because there are different types of products and different products for different business scenarios, we've created in-depth looks at all of those top products in the app integration market, to help you drill down and see which product is right for your enterprise.

1A set of questions to ask if you think you need application integration

The move to cloud computing, a drive to be agile, and componentization are all trends affecting companies and delineate the importance of application integration. This section asks you questions to help you assess if you need application integration software and how badly you need it.

2What to look for when buying application integration tools

Buying application integration tools requires not only a good look at the tool vendors but also a good look at your own enterprise. Every business has its own unique applications and business needs. Knowing what those needs are helps you decide which category of application integration tools your company will most likely need.

3Choosing among app integration products

This section explores the many different types of application integration products that could be a good fit for your enterprise. Middleware suites offer unified collections of tools that could resolve many issues that besiege larger companies. Enterprises that don't need middleware or middleware is not financially feasible can piece together their own architecture with message/service buses, directory and interface integration and object brokers or deployment and operations integration tools.

4The top EAI products

Choosing the right application integration product can mean the difference between the success or failure of your IT projects and systems.