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Systems integration: A big job that can pay off

Creating one united system out of the multiple systems being used in your company is a daunting task, but the rewards can be better communication and more transparent operations. Fortunately there are local firms who can help. For a complete list of local systems integrators, ranked by size, see our digiBOL service.

If you work in a large corporation, you have an idea of how hard it can be to get members of various departments – sales, accounting, production – to communicate with one another. Imagine how hard it is to get their diverse software and systems to communicate.

Indeed, one of the more complex types of work undertaken by IT firms is the challenge of systems integration – the process of uniting all the diverse systems used within one firm or organization. The benefits are obvious: If all systems are integrated, it is easier to view a company as a whole, and communication is enhanced. But undertaking the task can feel like creating a new IT network from scratch. It almost always involves the use of a large, capable consultant, of which there are several in Hungary.

“When it comes to system integration, many puzzles have to be solved. Data needs to be moved across different systems, platforms, and devices when the hardware and software components are different. How do you ensure that the information is delivered even when the system is not online or busy? How do you ensure data integrity or handle lost or duplicate data? Ensure security between the systems? There are so many things to think about carefully, but these can either be solved one-by-one in the systems or by using a proper middleware solution,” says Ferenc Pál, chief technology officer of IBM Hungary.

According to a statement from Hungary’s largest system integration specialist, T-Systems, “In the course of creating complex IT solutions, the most complex service activity that requires the greatest degree of responsibility and competence is system integration, carried out as a principal contractor.

Biting the bullet

Despite the difficulty of the transition, at some point systems integration can become necessary.

“When small companies start to grow the number of services offered to their partners and clients, they soon face several challenges caused by the heterogeneous systems designed for each of the offered services. These challenges include storing different data in different systems that need to be connected, or – what is even worse – storing the same data in multiple systems, which can lead to loose data integrity,” says Pál.

Once a company or organization decides it is time to take the leap, a serious planning process must begin, involving the systems integrator as a consultant and the various parties who will be affected.

“When designing complex ICT solutions, thorough system technical, architectural and technological planning is a must in order to elaborate the solutions that create business value for clients and are also optimized to meet their demands, IT environment and budget,” according to the T-Systems statement.

According to IBM’s Pál, the planning should involve:

  • A business analyst, who knows: where the information is and what staff members have access; the dependencies between the systems; the route of information; the expected workload; and, who are the experts for the various subsystems that will be integrated into one new system.
  • IT architects, who establish conventions and agree on interfaces.
  • A project manager, who oversees coordination of all the separate parts.

Partner: Bigger is better

Asked why T-Systems would be the best firm to handle a system integration project, Tibor Rékasi, CEO of T-Systems explains: “Probably the most important factor to consider in the case of a big system integration or a complex operation project at a big corporation is the stability of the company realizing the projects. T-Systems Hungary is a dominant player in the Hungarian market, and has decades of experience in system integration through its international network. As part of the Magyar Telekom Group, we can offer a solid guarantee of quality in the realization of projects, and promise to adhere to every single point of the signed contract. Furthermore, the international reach of the company is also an important advantage: Deutsche Telekom is in the background of our operations at an international level, and it is a vital player in regional markets. Another important factor in choosing a systems integrator is finding a company that can approach a project with an integrated ICT mindset, meeting present and future requirements. T-Systems Hungary has a uniquely wide portfolio, which spreads from classic IT telecommunications to application development.”

Speaking for IBM, Pál also notes the strength of his parent company, saying: “In addition to experienced consultants and services representatives locally in Hungary, IBM has powerful middleware software ranked as leaders by the biggest analyst companies. IBM connectivity and application integration solutions deliver access to data, applications and information regardless of platform, device or data formats—across both on-premises and cloud environments.”