Data Synchronization And The Art of Platform Integration

As of late, technology platform synchronization has actually been a popular topic of conversation. These platforms generally consist of back office software like a CRM or ERP, e-commerce sites, corporate portals, and so forth. Because this is such a frequent and essential architectural discussion when establishing solutions, an explanation is warranted to help clear up any confusion or misconceptions.


Data synchronization and ways to attain it

Most likely the most typical motorist behind data synchronization is the need to deciding in one system based off of data housed in another. You typically see this when inventory or rates lives in a back-office system but is needed to keep an e-commerce website approximately date. That exact same inventory data may also be surfaced inside the company’s extranet for dashboards utilized to inform and drive its sales. Adding another layer, transactional data impacts inventory. So, you have inventory and prices data driving e-commerce and traditional sales, both of which, in return, influence inventory and rates. You can see how crucial it is to have synchronized data.

These sort of data synchronizations can be very complexed due to the fact that of the large variety of technologies and platforms. The majority of the bigger platforms normally have a set of APIs (Application Programming Interface) that can be useful, however they aren’t a magic bullet. APIs typically need some personalization to make them work, or when handling the small- to middle-sized platforms, you might discover that they don’t even exist.

To top it off, there are very couple of requirements for these types of synchronization, and the ones that DO exist (EDI for example) are just fun for people that blog about system combinations for home entertainment’s sake. If you’re not one of those people, then synchronization can be a hard go.


Synchronization tactics

Many synchronization processes can be summed up in one of two words: Push or Pull.

For this discussion, I’ll use the terms “source” and “target.” “Source” is the coming from system of the data being synchronized, and “target” is the proposed destination system.

Here’s what we have to comprehend: Is the source system pressing data to the target system or is the target system pulling data from the source system?

Push Tactics

Push tactics should be considered first, allowing the source systems to eventually decide what data and how typically. After all, it’s the source system’s data. Who better to dictate this?

Press is most frequently:

Event driven— This is when the source system informs or alerts a target system that an action has actually taken place. The target system then handles the action as needed.

Batch driven-– This is similar to the event driven system, with a small exception. In a batch-driven technique, the source system will gather all of the occasions that have happened over a set span of time and push all events at the same time to be handled by the target system. Examples include:

  • FTP a CSV file with all orders developed yesterday to a back workplace system.
  • Compose an XML file for each order that was positioned in the past 15 minutes to a network file share, working directory site or queuing mechanism of some sort.


Pull Tactics

Pull strategies are usually batch driven with deviations on how the batch is obtained. There are couple of exceptions. This strategy is mainly time-based ballot oriented. What that means is that on a provided schedule, a polling cycle happens and all the data collected in that ballot cycle is acted upon.

Few examples:

  • Every night at 1 a.m., a process takes a look at a directory (ie: FTP, network share, local folder) and processes all the files inside it.
  • Every 5 minutes, a process queries the e-commerce site’s database for all orders with a status of “New” and creates them in a back office system.
  • Every 12 hours, a process calls out to a back workplace web service that yields all the orders that have been shipped and updates the order status in the e-commerce platform.


Hybrid Tactics

Each of the above pointed out techniques can be coupleded with another to form a hybrid.

For instance:

  • The source system uses an event push method to deliver data to the target system. The target system utilizes a batch pull technique to process the data.
  • The source system makes use of batch push strategy, and the target system uses a batch pull technique.


Whats, Hows, and Whys

These are excellent concerns to ask at the outset of almost any business project. Nevertheless, with regard to data synchronization, where the response to almost every other concern is “it depends.” they are essential.

What …
… are the technical restrictions of the source and target systems?
… does the data resemble that is being synchronized? Is it complex or fairly flat?
… is the forecasted size?
… kind of security considerations need to be made?

How …
… will the data be acquired?
… often does the data require synchronized?
… stale can the data be?
… does the data being synchronized satisfy the demands of the other systems?

Why …
… does this data need synchronized?
Asking these concerns might result in other concerns, which waterfall into others and still others. But asking is imperative because the flexibility of the synchronization and the data being synchronized ended up being plainly specified in the process of addressing them, enabling tactical decisions to be made.


What About The Whens?

The Whens come after the Whats, Hows and Whys. It’s where the rubber satisfies the road. In certain, the most vital When is, “When should a certain method be made use of and why?”.

Using the responses from the Whats, Hows and Whys, the Whens are very basic.

The Whens guidelines:

  • If the data can be relatively stale (definition does not have actually to be refreshed at a high frequency), or is fairly big and will take a while to process, a batch push or pull technique would be best.
  • If the frequency of updates is fast, and the data isn’t huge, an occasion push tactic would be best.
  • If the data requires to have actually a guaranteed delivery, as is with a lot of transactional synchronization, an event push strategy would be best.


Is Push or Pull Better For Batches?

So you’ve chosen on batches, have you? Great. Now, do you push or pull? The answer depends upon who wishes to assume control and responsibility of the synchronization.

  • In a push situation, the source system has supreme control of the schedule and rate at which the data is provided to the target system.
  • In a pull circumstance, the roles are reversed. The target system manages the schedule and rate at which the data is pulled from the source system.

Here’s something to bear in mind when using batch push tactics: It is most likely that the solution will really be a hybrid technique, with a batch push on the source system and batch pull on the target system.

This provides itself making the recognition of who remains in control a bit muddy since you’ll have two different polling cycles, which could make identifying problems more tough.

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