Originally Published: Friday, 8 June 2001 Author: Marcelo Pham
Published to: develop_articles/Development Articles Page: 1/6 - [Printable]

Introduction to Cross Platform Integration (Part 2 of 2)

In part two of this detailed look at platform integration, software architecture and networking issues with Linux, consultant Marcelo Pham concludes his exclusive Linux.com article series with a complete overview and code walk-through of application and database integration strategies for cross-platform data integration in a business environment.

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In the last issue of this series we talked about the roles Linux can play when networking in a mixed environment. In this second part of our look at Linux Cross-platform integration issues we will cover some basics you need to know in order to integrate applications from different platforms and databases with your Linux box.

3. Integrating Applications

3.a. Introduction
Most companies with five or more years in business have a computer system with a software package to run the business. This software system can be Accounting (General Ledger, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable) Distribution and Sales (Inventory Management, Sales Order, Purchase Order, CRM) or Groupware (Payroll, Mail, Collaboration tools, Project Management) related.

Considering all the factors we talked about in the last installment (Internet and e-commerce expansion, acquisitions and mergers) it's easy to see that the bigger the company the more of software and platforms it has to integrate. The ideal solution would be to merge all the applications into one single platform, one single database engine and one single environment, whatever that is. Correct? Yes, that is true -in Utopia. In the real world, that would cost a lot of money, would take a lot of time, and in today's frenetic business climate would not be even close to be feasible. We have to learn how to make software and platforms interact with a realistic and solid solution.

You will find out that there are thousands of different applications, and most of the time you won't have time to rewrite and migrate either application to the 'opposite' platform: The only solution will be to make them interact. We already know how to make them 'see each other' on a network, let's see how we can make them work together.

3.b. Types of integration
There are two general types of integration: one-way and two-way.

One-way integration is when you choose one application to be the 'master' and the other the 'slave'. The slave retrieves and sends data from and to the master application, but the main and updated data is always stored in the master. A classic example of one-way integration is between the Distribution application and the E-commerce software (Figure 1). In this case we assume that the Web Server is a Linux box and the Application Server is a Windows based server.


Figure 1.

Two-way integration is when two applications need to keep the same data updated up-to-the-second. This means -in database terminology- the data is replicated between two different databases for two different applications. A good example is the interaction between the Accounting module and the Sales module (Figure 2).


Figure 2.

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