What is EII(Enterprise Information Integration)?

Enterprises have been long storing their data in a myriad of disparate systems like relational databases, mainframes, different operating systems, free text, hierarchical repositories, etc.
The need for organizations to identify and correlate related, but separate data was something long thought of. Using new and existing data assets in an efficient, integrated, and interchangeable manner has become the key to surviving, and thriving, in the new economy and EII provides a strategic advantage to this goal.
The EII (Enterprise Information Integration) is the software ability that sees the data and the information of the entire organization as a unified view so that it can be managed as a single source. EII tools use the concept of virtual databases to provide access to multiple databases. It provides a means for real-time data integration and allows access to this data through a single data layer.

Characteristics

  • Supports variety of data sources
  • SQL based API
  • Real-time programming model
  • location transparency
  • Automatic data type conversion services
  • Ability to join, union, aggregate, and otherwise correlate data from multiple sources in a single query
  • Ability to create individual views based on data integrated from multiple sources

Applications

EII’s ability to combine and give client applications that require homogenous data from heterogeneous sources by the help of a virtualized data layer that delivers data to applications from original sources in real-time provides multiple advantages. Such client applications and services include Desktop Productivity Tools (spreadsheets, word processors, presentation software, etc.), development environments and frameworks (Java EE, .NET, Mono, SOAP or RESTful Web services, etc.), business intelligence (BI), business activity monitoring (BAM) software, enterprise resource planning (ERP), Customer relationship management (CRM), business process management (BPM and/or BPEL) Software, and web content management (CMS).

Following segments increasingly use EII for business decisions:

  • Banking- Banks want a complete view of customer activities across lines of business from multiple divisions and applications for the services they provide like checking, home equity loans, brokerage services, etc.. Most banking data is stored in silos, making EII a natural choice for integration.
  • Securities Trading- Traders need a complete view that incorporates up-to-the-minute data as hedge funds trade across asset classes . Usually, this data is produced by different trading data producing applications and different databases are employed to store such data. EII allows integration of data from different sources and provides complete trading information across asset classes.
  • Single Customer View- As organizations are getting bigger and expanding day by day by giving out services, service representatives require a complete view. For example, insurance companies are expanding there spectrum by providing services besides life, automobile, and homeowner’s insurance. Service representatives must access all relevant data and EII technology stands tall for this application.
  • Federal Government- It is difficult to share information because of certain regulations but Homeland security applications require data to be collected and integrated. Aggregating and copying data into a central repository will just make it bulky and isn’t the right alternative. Agencies need to expose particular data elements, stipulate uses, and make specific data available to other agencies and EII meets this need.

Working

EII tools as discussed above provide access to multiple databases based on a virtual database. In other words, the user uses a query in terms of a shared data model, the query is then translated into an appropriate query in the supporting databases. The data retrieved is transformed into the data requirement format as requested by the original query.

When to Use EII

The following are the cases in which the use of EII makes perfect sense:

  • Connecting structured data with unstructured data takes of advantage of EII’s strength of leaving data in a place that could dramatically increase overall storage requirements if duplicated
  • When a copy of the data change won’t fulfill the requirement and immediate data change in view of the data is required.
  • When getting the data together for the integrated query is the biggest challenge and data transformation is relatively light or non-existent.
  • When the relatively worse query performance of EII query is acceptable
  • when the data needed is not completely integrated into one place and some operational and regulatory reporting is required
  • When a company requires to see performance management at an enterprise level with the use of integration of Performance Management software with multiple underlying lines of business BI systems

Advantages

  • Relational access to non relational sources
  • Quicker deployment
  • Allows data exploring even before a formal data model and metadata are created
  • Can be used by EAI, ETL and further development
  • Avoids unnecessary movement of data
  • Optimized and ideal for global access to remote sources
  • Its Event publishing technology provides a non-intrusive means to “listen” for particular changes like insert, update or delete, that defined as being of interest.

Challenges

  • Multi-site updates require transaction control
  • Needs matching keys across sources
  • Limited transformation
  • May consume network bandwidth during peak hours
  • Limited to hundreds of thousands of rows for remote result sets
  • Possibly high resource utilization on the source system
  • Data types mismatch
  • Data reconciliation

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