Integrating business systems (without coding)

 

blog_EAIConsider the following scenario: a company exchanges data with trade hubs and other applications. Traditionally this kind of scenario uses point-to-point integration, adding complexity and making it more difficult to replace legacy systems and integrate with SaaS applications. A significant part of the company’s technical debt might be right there.

More and more often we are facing scenarios where client is looking for ways out of monolithic architecture and towards integration solutions with loosely coupled services to provide agility and flexibility. One way of leveraging integration solutions that connect multiple independent systems, both on-premise and in the cloud, is through Azure Integration Services.

Let’s have a look at a simple example. We need to import orders and other data from our ecommerce application (and maybe other applications) to our back-office ERP system. For reliable and secure data exchange, we will use Azure Service Bus as a message broker. Azure Logic Apps will enable automation and orchestration of business processes and provide easy connectivity between services. Data is added to accounting system using API.

blog_EAIEvent messages (orders or other data) enter the system via customer-facing applications. Messages are sent to Azure Service Bus. Once received, messages are transformed to JSON and mapped to my (system’s) order format using transformation maps. Transformation maps can be created with a number of tools including Enterprise Integration Pack, I chose a Liquid template for JSON transformations with Logic Apps. Once a message is converted, it is ingested into back-office ERP system using API, and in this example I am using  Microsoft Business Central, because – well of course I am :).

My flow looks like this:

blog_eai_3.JPG

All the connectors used here are standard Logic App connectors, save for the following two: BSSCreateOrder and BSSCreateSalesLine. These are my custom connectors.  Dynamics BC (Business Central) offers a number of standard connectors, and it also offers increasing number of API functions that can be used in integration scenarios, but I chose to create my own API and my own connector in this example.

I am simulating my web application here by (manually) sending an xml formatted order to service bus. And the process of receiving, transforming and importing the message to my ERP system is shown below:

Note, this is a skeleton outline. For Enterprise Integration we would need to secure robustness, monitoring  and reusability of the solution, but this is just to show how Logic Apps can be used to automate integration without coding, whether we are integrating on-premise or cloud solutions.

 

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