What is application integration?

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Application integration connects different systems and applications by allowing them to work together through data and services. A simple example is enabling 2 isolated business software applications to talk to each other. This type of integration is usually done to improve operational efficiency and deliver better user experiences. Application integration can also improve scalability and reduce costs.

Application integration isn’t one-size-fits-all. It can take several forms and incorporate a variety of concepts. The 1 thing these ideas all have in common is they facilitate processes between 2 or more applications. Each organization might have different needs and adopt different types of application integration.

Application integration concepts

Application programming interface (API)

An API is a set of definitions and protocols for building and integrating application software. APIs enable communication between products and services and simplify application development and integration. An API-led approach to application integration allows developers to build connections without the need for special skills, reducing time and helping increase business efficiency and flexibility.


Important actions or incidents within an application, such as accessing, creating, or changing data, are events. Event-driven architecture (EDA) is a way of designing applications and services to respond to events in real time.

Data mapping

Data mapping maps existing information to a structured format to make it easier for applications to use. This process specifies standard formats for data collected, so different applications can more easily analyze the same data.

Types of application integration

Point-to-point integration

This is the simplest type of integration. A developer builds a connection between 2 applications so they can share information. The downside to point-to-point integration is that as applications and systems change, developers have to manually create a new connection for each new application or use case. This can lead to inefficiencies and make it harder to scale.

Hub and spoke integration

This type of application integration creates a central messaging exchange to manage connections among different applications. Compare it to making a connection at a hub airport to get from 1 city to another, instead of taking a direct flight. Each connection to the hub eliminates the need for point-to-point integration.

One approach to hub-and-spoke integration is enterprise application integration (EAI), where an integration application serves as the hub. Another approach employs an enterprise service bus (ESB), which routes messages between services. These are related concepts and sometimes an ESB is considered a specific method for implementing EAI.

Integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS)

iPaaS is a cloud-based service that handles various application integration functions. Through automation, iPaaS makes it simple to connect applications and data deployed in any environment. 

What about data integration?

Application integration and data integration are often discussed as substitutes for one another, but the concepts and uses for each are different.

Data integration, sometimes called batch-based data processing, creates a central place to access data from different sources. Generally, data integration takes place after application processes are finished. Organizations can use data integration to analyze performance and ensure consistency and quality.

Think about a large organization with multiple divisions, each with their own data. Data integration can help these divisions share data, analyze it, and collaborate.

A big reason organizations adopt application integration strategies is to modernize legacy systems. This often goes hand in hand with modern practices such as agile integration. Here are a few examples of how application integration can make a positive difference in how organizations run.

Integrating applications across systems and partners

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, like SAP, are important hubs of all sorts of business activities throughout an organization. An ERP system can do much more when it can bring in information from other applications and services. That can mean anything from helping payroll run more smoothly or improving efficiencies in the supply chain. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems, like Salesforce, can also benefit from application integration by helping support teams deliver more personalized customer support or helping sales teams work more efficiently.


Integrating applications can make it easier for healthcare providers and insurance companies to share patient data. Integration with electronic health record (EHR) systems is 1 example. EHR integration gives medical providers access to more patient information, which can improve the quality of care.
Read a healthcare customer story

Manufacturing, retail, and e-commerce

In manufacturing and retail sectors, connected applications can monitor production lines and product lifecycles, and make sure the right products get produced and delivered to the right customers. In manufacturing and distribution, connected devices and integrated applications can work together to identify production problems, maintain quality, facilitate logistics, and control costs.


If you’ve ever paid a bill using your bank’s mobile app, you’ve probably benefited from application integration. Thanks to integrated applications, customers can access and manage their money, and interact with related products and services such as loans and mortgages. Application integration helps financial institutions provide better internal and customer-facing services while reducing IT costs and improving developer experiences. 
Read a banking case study

Application integration can benefit organizations as they develop software.

  • Connected environments: Application integration gives developers flexibility and choice, including options to connect to a variety of endpoints. It can let users access data they otherwise couldn’t. Working with edge computing, application integration can help organizations distribute resources across a large number of locations, providing faster, more reliable services.
  • Quick adoption of new technology: API-led integration and EDA enable developers to quickly incorporate new technologies. These methods can support moving with agility and making timely business transitions. 
  • Productivity: Integrated platforms add flexibility and efficiency. For example, accessing data through an API can be far easier than going directly through a hosting platform. Integration helps connect applications deployed across different environments, whether they’re on premise, in the cloud, or at the edge on Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
  • Reduced costs and simplified scaling: When an organization needs to adjust capacity, an application integration strategy simplifies making changes. APIs and application connectors mean businesses don’t have to start from scratch when adding and scaling up new integrations. All of this can save time and lower costs while allowing businesses to pursue new revenue sources.
  • Improved user experiences: Customers can do more when the applications they use are connected to one another. Bringing systems together lets organizations deliver a unified digital experience—so users can access multiple services in a single destination.

Despite its benefits, application integration introduces change and complexity, which can pose challenges.

  • Complexity: Integrating applications and business processes is both an organizational and technical challenge, requiring coordination of different teams and systems. An integration project can grow even more complex if you have manual processes that need to be automated first.
  • Handling custom applications: Connecting isolated applications or custom-built integrations may involve time-consuming coding work.
  • Security concerns: Maintaining information confidentiality and integrity is a critical requirement for most organizations. Teams need to ensure their integrated applications comply with their organization’s information security and data governance standards.

When evaluating application integration solutions, consider the following factors.

Ease of use and skill-level accessibility: Your application integration project is more likely to succeed when you choose a solution that’s easy for people of various skill levels to work with. Ease of use makes workflows more efficient and encourages adoption.

Application and environment flexibility: Applications can run in many environments, and new ones come online all the time. An integration solution needs to accommodate this flexibility. In many cases, a managed, cloud-based solution will be the first to support new software and ensure maximum compatibility across platforms.

Security: An integration solution should provide built-in security features such as encryption, authentication, and authorization. These safeguards help protect sensitive data and prevent unauthorized access.

In addition to these considerations, organizations may want to use an integrated development environment (IDE), software that combines common developer tools into a single graphical user interface (GUI). An IDE allows developers to start programming new applications quickly because they don't need to manually configure and integrate multiple utilities as part of the set-up process

Red Hat® OpenShift® provides integration across the technology stack, including hybrid cloud environments. As an application platform, Red Hat Openshift lets you build applications the way you want and need by supporting the application lifecycle, including application integration. It’s equipped with tools and frameworks for seamless integrations across development and deployment environments.

In combination with Red Hat OpenShift, Red Hat Application Foundations offers the tools to connect modern development practices with operational necessities so you can design and deploy modern cloud-native applications at speed and at scale. Application Foundations addresses integration challenges with a unified set of commonly used, Red Hat-integrated, and supported open source frameworks and technologies. This simplifies the overall development and management environment. Application Foundations also reduces sprawl and complexity by providing a single-vendor solution your development team can learn and quickly adopt.

Red Hat Developer Hub is a developer portal that promotes efficiency and collaboration by visually consolidating elements of the development process. It streamlines onboarding speed, developer productivity, and collaboration through a unified and open platform while reducing cognitive load and frustration for the development team.

Keep reading


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API stands for application programming interface—a set of definitions and protocols to build and integrate application software.

More about integration


A comprehensive set of integration and runtimes technologies engineered to help build, deploy, and operate applications with security in mind and at scale across the hybrid cloud.

Hosted and managed platform, application, and data services that streamline the hybrid cloud experience, reducing the operational cost and complexity of delivering cloud-native applications.

A set of products, tools, and components for developing and maintaining cloud-native applications. Includes Red Hat AMQ, Red Hat Data Grid, Red Hat JBoss® Enterprise Application Platform, Red Hat JBoss Web Server, a Red Hat build of OpenJDK, a Red Hat build of Quarkus, a set of cloud-native runtimes, Migration Toolkit for Applications, single sign-on, and a launcher service.

A comprehensive set of integration and messaging technologies to connect applications and data across hybrid infrastructures. Includes Red Hat 3scale API Management, Red Hat AMQ, Red Hat Runtimes, change data capture, and a service registry.



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