System Integration

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System Integration - By: Jeffrey O. Grady

System integration
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In engineering, system integration is the bringing together of the component subsystems into one system and ensuring that the subsystems function together as a system.[1] In information technology, systems integration is the process of linking together different computing systems and software applications physically or functionally.[2]

The system integrator brings together discrete systems utilizing a variety of techniques such as computer networking, enterprise application integration, business process management or manual programming.[3]

* 1 Overview
* 2 Required skills
* 3 Methods of integration
* 4 See also
* 5 References

[edit] Overview

A system is an aggregation of subsystems cooperating so that the system is able to deliver the over-arching functionality. System integration involves integrating existing (often disparate) subsystems. The subsystems will have interfaces. Integration involves joining the subsystems together by “gluing” their interfaces together. If the interfaces don’t directly interlock, the “glue” between them can provide the required mappings. System integration is about determining the required “glue”.

System integration is also about adding value to the system, capabilities that are possible because of interactions between subsystems.

In today’s connected world, the role of system integration engineers is becoming more and more important: more and more systems are designed to connect together, both within the system under construction and to systems that are already deployed.[4]
[edit] Required skills

A system integration engineer needs a broad range of skills and is likely to be defined by a breadth of knowledge rather than a depth of knowledge.

These skills are likely to include software and hardware engineering, interface protocols, and general problem solving skills. It is likely that the problems to be solved have not been solved before except in the broadest sense. They are likely to include new and challenging problems with an input from a broad range of engineers where the system integration engineer "pulls it all together."[5]
[edit] Methods of integration

Vertical Integration is the process of integrating subsystems according to their functionality by creating functional entities also referred to as silos.[6] The benefit of this method is that the integration is performed quickly and involves only the necessary vendors, therefore, this method is cheaper in the short term. On the other hand, cost-of-ownership can be substantially higher than seen in other methods, since in case of new or enhanced functionality, the only possible way to implement (scale the system) would be by implementing another silo. Reusing subsystems to create another functionality is not possible.[7]

Star Integration or also known as Spaghetti Integration is a process of integration of the systems where each system is interconnected to each of the remaining subsystems. When observed from the perspective of the subsystem which is being integrated, the connections are reminiscent of a star, but when the overall diagram of the system is presented, the connections look like spaghetti, hence the name of this method. The cost varies due to the interfaces which subsystems are exporting. In a case where the subsystems are exporting heterogeneous or proprietary interfaces, the integration cost can substantially rise. Time and costs needed to integrate the systems increase exponentially when adding additional subsystems. From the feature perspective, this method often seems preferable, due to the extreme flexibility of the reuse of functionality.[7]

Horizontal Integration or Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) is an integration method in which a specialized subsystem is dedicated to communication between other subsystems. This allows cutting the number of connections (interfaces) to only one per subsystem which will connect directly to the ESB. The ESB is capable of translating the interface into another interface. This allows cutting the costs of integration and provides extreme flexibility. With systems integrated using this method, it is possible to completely replace one subsystem with another subsystem which provides similar functionality but exports different interfaces, all this completely transparent for the rest of the subsystems. The only action required is to implement the new interface between the ESB and the new subsystem.[7]

The horizontal scheme can be misleading, however, if it is thought that the cost of intermediate data transformation or the cost of shifting responsibility over business logic can be avoided.[7]
[edit] See also

* Continuous integration
* Enterprise application integration
* Integration platform
* Integration Competency Center
* System of record

[edit] References

1. ^ Gilkey, Herbert T (1960), "New Air Heating Methods", New methods of heating buildings: a research correlation conference conference conducted by the Building Research Institute, Division of Engineering and Industrial Research, as one of the programs of the BRI fall conferences, November 1959., Washington: National Research Council (U.S.). Building Research Institute, pp. 60, OCLC 184031
2. ^ CIS 8020 - Systems Integration, Georgia State University
3. ^ Moore, June (13 Dec 1982), "Software Reviews, BusinessMaster II+, ledger for CP/M systems", InfoWorld, InfoWorld Media Group, Inc, pp. 31
4. ^ Merriman, Dan (19 Feb 1996), "Tying it all together", Network World, IDG Network World Inc, pp. 51
5. ^ An Introduction to School of Information Engineering, Information Engineering Program, Beijing: Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications
6. ^ Lau, Edwin (2005), "Multi-channel Service Delivery", OECD e-Government Studies e-Government for Better Government, Paris: OECD, pp. 52, OCLC 224889830
7. ^ a b c d Gold-Bernstein, Beth; Ruh, William A (2005), Enterprise integration: the essential guide to integration solutions, Addison Wesley

v • d • e
Systems engineering
Biological systems engineering • Configuration management • Earth systems engineering and management • Enterprise systems engineering • Performance engineering • Reliability engineering • Safety engineering • Space Systems Engineering
Requirements analysis • Functional specification • System integration • Verification and validation • Design review
Business process • System • Systems engineering process • System lifecycle • Systems Development Life Cycle
Systems Modeling Language • IDEF
Decision making • Functional modelling • Optimization • Planning • Reliable analysis • Statistical analysis • Systems analysis • System dynamics • Systems modeling • V-Model • Work breakdown structure
Systems engineers
Wernher von Braun • Harold Chestnut • Arthur David Hall III • Derek Hitchins • Robert E. Machol • Simon Ramo • Joseph Francis Shea • John N. Warfield
Related fields
Control engineering • Computer engineering • Industrial engineering • Operations research • Project management • Quality management • Software engineering
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Categories: Systems analysis | Systems engineering | Interoperability | Software engineering terminology

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