….I do not think it means what you think it means. - Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride
There are many words like this in the technology industry but today’s word is Integrate. We hear it often, we are building software that must integrate into our back office. We are integrating our social media into our financials and CRM and so forth.
Software Systems Integration: the process by which smaller units of software are combined together to form a larger system of software – sometimes a very large software system – to solve design problems. – Wikipedia
Integration of units of software that are not small or do not resemble each other is a little more tricky. When you purchase a system that you would like to complement an existing system the likelihood of integration is rather slim. There’s a good chance the new system was not built when the old system was built. Although the technology names are similar the technology is very different. C++ is not the same animal and C#. Oracle 7 is a fundamentally different than Oracle 11i and if you’ve ever upgraded Peoplesoft to Peoplesoft you completely understand why its called magic (or miracle, depending on your faith).
When you are “joining” two products produced by different organizations from different technology eras(1) integration is a term often used but as conceivable as having a pet dinosaur in modern day Alberta. The actual event that happens is mapping, an application programming interface is built that is multilingual and adaptable to all eras that allows each system to live while communicating through time.
It is this type of “joining” the software industry refers to in design diagrams as “the Magic Happens Here”(2)
1 Technology Era: Period of time spanning 24 to 48 months.
2 Magic Decoder Ring Forging. ”One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. ” – The Lord of the Rings