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Data Integration: Key Terms Defined



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According to the BBC there are more than 7,000 languages spoken worldwide but 90% of these languages are spoken by less than 100,000 people. I would argue another language you could add to that list of 7,000 is the language of data integration. Key terms around data integration can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Take a read of a previous blog on the subject of terms. With this in mind the team at Virtual Logistics Inc. has begun developing a list of key integration definitions that any business should keep in mind when talking integration.

The first and probably most important term that people really need to understand when thinking about integration is the term integration itself, how do you know your business needs something if you don’t understand what that something is? Here at VL we define integration as: seamlessly moving data across your enterprise and trading partner community, connecting your clients, suppliers and back end systems into one cohesive network.

There are many elements that make up integration as we define it here at VL these terms along with their definitions can be found below:

API: An API is an Application Programming Interface. An API sets out HOW (in what format) applications, connectors or platforms can talk to each other. The API allows the user or program to ensure that the data is in a specific format, making it easier to work with.

SOAP: SOAP stands for Simple Object Access Protocol. SOAP relies on a XML paylod and transports data via Network infrastructure. SOAP contains 4 distinct elements including a mandatory envelope, a header containing addresses, the body and an optional fault which sends a reply back to the sender if an error is found.

XML: XML is short for Extensible Markup Language. XML is very similar to HTML with a few notable differences that greatly improve flexibility. XML allows users to define their own tags, when the tags will occur, in what order as well as how they appear.

JSON: JSON is short for JavaScript Object Notation. JSON is formatted for sharing data and is a good alternative to XML due to the fact that it is language independent and easy to read due to minimal formatting.

CSV: CSV is short for Comma or Character Separated Value file. A CSV allows the user to store data in a defined list of tables. You can create CSV files using common programs such as Microsoft Excel.

ERP: ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. ERP packages are designed to carry out the backend processes for large and growing companies. As your business grows and the backend processes you may need to implement an ERP system to help manage your supply chain, CRM and Human Resource Management.

Data Cleansing: Data cleansing is the process of removing errors and inconsistencies from data before it is imported. The concept of data cleansing is pretty straight forward but is something that if not done can cause a lot of problems with integration.

Data Mapping: Data mapping is the process of assigning a target and a source for the data. This means knowing where the data is coming from and where it is going to and the rules that need to be applied in the manipulation of that data.

AI – Application Integration: Application Integration is the process of bringing together data or functions of one application to another. This allows the applications to work together or one application to use the functions or data of the other in real time.

EAI – Enterprise Application Integration: Enterprise Application Integration helps coordinate applications within an enterprise. Enterprise application integration is usually used when companies are consolidating or adding to their collection of applications.

These are just seven terms that make up the beginning of a long list of terms that are important to know when talking about data integration. Here at VL we know that these terms can be difficult to wrap your head around so we will continue to add to this list as we receive feedback and questions.

Do you have any terms that you need defined? Let us know in the comments! Do you have questions about integration?