Acronym for enterprise application integration. EAI is the unrestricted sharing of data and business processes throughout the networked applications or data sources in an organization. Early software programs in areas such as inventory control, human resources, sales automation and database management were designed to run independently, with no interaction between the systems. They were custom built in the technology of the day for a specific need being addressed and were often proprietary systems. As enterprises grow and recognize the need for their information and applications to have the ability to be transferred across and shared between systems, companies are investing in EAI in order to streamline processes and keep all the elements of the enterprise interconnected.
There are four major categories of EAI:
- Database linking: databases share information and duplicate information as needed.
- Application linking: the enterprise shares business processes and data between two or more applications.
- Data warehousing: data is extracted from a variety of data sources and channeled into a specific database for analysis.
- Common virtual system: the pinnacle of EAI; all aspects of enterprise computing are tied together so that they appear as a unified application.