ERP Integration.. An easy guide to understanding your options.
Unless you are in IT or technical enough to have been involved in software integration, it can be sometimes daunting when you are being exposed to make a decision, which integration approach is best… I have outlined below the types of integration options possible today, how each work (in simplistic terms for all to hopefully understand) and how ERP solutions like NetSuite connect to other solutions. Happy Reading…
ERP Integration To Other Solutions
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is commonly define as a type of software that holds and centralises the whole organisation from financial management, supply chain management, manufacturing, customer relationship management up to sales and marketing. It covers the main modules of businesses which make it easier to the totality of each department to share, connect and rely data insights.
Integration is a process of connecting and bringing together minor components into one single system that functions as one. Looking at it as software tool as a function, integration indicates to the result of a process that is design to put together the subsystems so that the data encompass in each becomes a portion of a larger and more comprehensive system that is absolutely quicker and easier to share and transmit data.
The larger the enterprises represents, the more advanced its software solutions should become, as most likely, an inconsistent data and inept workflows may occur if its manually handled and overseen. ERP Integration upholds the idea of minimising potential and ineffective workflows by centralising information, improving transparency and increasing collaboration and communication among main modules.
Hence, ERP software connects to other systems, it influences relationships between ERP software and vendor systems so that enterprises can customise and choose specific tools they see fit in their solutions.
- Centralised Data
- Workflow Efficiency
- Consistent Information
- Reduction of Data Error
ERP Integration Category
There are many different types and categories of ERP systems depending on the industry. The type of modules and features would be laid on the industry and business fits well with your workflow. ERP systems usually cover various aspects of an organisation and here’s an overview:
- Project Management
- Human Resources
- Supply Chain
- Sales and Marketing
Each business has specific requirement and demand thus, ERP Integration implementation also has different ways and methods.
Point to Point
In this method of integration, ERP software is individually linked to each software or tool. Conducting an integration separately for each system, new applications added to the business would need new integration into the ERP system and each existing application. Some businesses choose this method as it has a reasonably low barrier to entry.
Other way of approach is to choose to build your own customised applications or adapters to integrate distinct selection of business tools. It starts with data transfer capabilities, as the business demand expands so as the additional need to build adapters. As the enterprise grows, additional tools to its software can be challenging to maintain.
Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)
As the most advanced and latest integration sector, applications are linked through a “communication bus”. In which, the bus stands as a centralised tool where the applications communicate and reduces reliance by dissociating the ERP system from other applications. This way other no adjustment needed to application when another component is added.
ERP Integration system change and drift according to the requirements and demands of enterprises. As the technology continues to shift so as the approaches available for ERP Integration, ESB may be the most accommodating approach to modern enterprises with various sizes. Nevertheless, ERP Integration is so prominent in businesses today.
Integration Using Middleware
File Based Loaders and Web Services are two primary options in moving a data to Cloud ERP.
File Based Loaders, your data can load and import in bulk from any data source to another or external system. FBL allows several source systems to import data. This tool can be used for bulk loads, and for incremental loads. It has range of varieties to import batch data manually by user interaction or through automated via local process using existing API’s and Web Services. Notes to remember on the process to execute File Based Loaders.
- FBL is manually intensive
- It can be fully executed by the user; without much need of IT support after the initial configuration.
- Any errors that occur can be changed using ADFdi, which can perform validation check on the data in the table.
How FBL Works
FBL is a tool for data loading and integration. It simplifies the whole data conversion as data gets loaded using predefined delimited flat file for different business objects. It also uses a Web services to the .zip file that has pipe delimited data files to stage directory via Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). The .dat files are then unzipped by a Python script then SQL Loader reads the data from this .dat files and loads the data into staging tables. A specific work area in the user interface admit implementers to manage batches of data loads monitoring the processes as they run and reviewing and correcting errors after the loading is completed. All business rules and validations are triggered to ensure data integrity.
Web Services,applications use range of programming platform to develop web-based applications like Java, .Net, Angular JS, etc. This application needs communication to happen between one another which is built using different development languages.
Web Services is a programmatic interface in ERP Cloud which allows both inbound and outbound data transfer. It is a standardised option to propagate communication between client and server applications using world wide web via integration approach. The services are operated in standard language such as XML Based and described in standard manner via WSDL description (Web Services Definition Language).
Types Of Web Service
- SOAP web services
- RESTful web services
Simple Object Access Protocol or SOAP is a transport independent messaging protocol. Soap transfers XML data as SOAP messages which is known as XML document. The structure of XML document follows a specific pattern though not the content. A standard web protocol or HTTP receives web services and SOAP.
In applications cloud, SOAP web services expose data and operations on business such as marketing campaign or opportunity. It is implemented using the Application Development Framework (ADF). Using Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) composite services in business process are not centered on any particular business object.
- Only XML
- WS- Security and SSL
- Can’t Cache
- Require more resources and bandwidth
- No fixed methods and could contain any operation depending on design’s implementation
Representational State Transfer or RESTful web services is design that specifies constraints such as uniform interface, resource identification through URI, self-descriptive messages and stateful interactions through hyperlinks. It is lightweight, maintainable and scalable web services that is particularly well suited for creating API’s for client spread out all over the internet. REST is a client server application concentrated around transferring of representations of resources through requests and responses. Data and functionality are resources and it is accessed using Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs) or links.
RST API, use for integration to automate business process, integrate applications and publish raw business events to an integration insight server.
- Architectural Style
- HTML, XML, JSON and Plain Text
- SSL and HTTPS
- Can Cache
- Require less resources and lightweight
- CRUD Operations methods; POST, GET PUT and DELETE
How Web Services Works
To put it simply, client invoke series of web services calls of request to a server which would host the actual web service, these requests are known as remote procedure calls, RPC are calls made which are hosted by relevant web services. The primary component of a web service is the data, which is transferred between client and server or XML, Extensible markup language is a like HTML, an intermediate language that is known by many programming languages. SOAP sends XML data between applications, then data is sent to HTTP, in which is sent from the web service to the application called SOAP message or XML document.
Loading data from files and Loading data directly into ERP Cloud are the two main approaches were involved when integrating the cloud to external data and systems via web services.
Process Integration Systems
A solution that help integrate different systems that were not molded to work together. And, here are some of the integration solution in the market.
- SAP XI – use to connect SAP systems with other non-SAP products.
- BizTalk – a business process management (BPM) server that allows enterprises to automate and optimise business process.
- Web Methods – include enterprises application integration and electronic date interchanged.
- Dell Boomi – integration platform-as-a- service, supports real time integration and elastically scales.
Integrating Options with NetSuite
NetSuite, as one of the major cloud ERP vendors has been primarily adopted by SMBs and Enterprise organisations. Unlike proprietary software developers, NetSuite is more of an “open source” approach to customisation and modification of its software and can be done by creating web-based script among the core application services provided by its own up to browser-based user interface. Since, most of the scripts are done by Java, it would be easier to the businesses to do modifications. It also productised its approach to application, integration and extensions.
- RESTLet – Quickly integrates and return the data to the application with maximum size of 10MB for both input and output.
- Public Suitelet – An extension of the SuiteScript API that allows developers to build custom NetSuite pages.
- Web Services – An integration that can handle big size of data compare to other integration options.