Enterprise application integration is the process whereby disparate tools, off-the-shelf applications, and legacy systems are combined to address a specific enterprise-wide need - perhaps a new business process, or the consequences of a reorganization or merger. Such events typically stress existing IT systems, as well as the IT systems staff involved in the process:
Legacy applications have an unexpectedly long life, and must continue to serve as the enterprise evolves. Integrating old and new applications usually involves writing custom code, as these components from different sources may run on different platforms and were not designed to inter-operate.
Increasingly, the data feeding these solutions emanate from a wide range of sources: file stores, legacy applications, external partners, e-mail, and the Web. Facilities are needed to recognize, manage, and transform these data sets to meet the formats imposed by different applications.
Output technologies are proliferating. Beyond centralized printing, enterprises are now directing data to distributed printers, Web publishing, fax and e-mail, data warehousing, and other downstream solutions.
Solutions must conform to establish open standards, as well as meet a number of quality measures: scalability, robustness, security and other performance standards.