When we think about enterprise applications it’s easy to think only of the code that runs behind our firewalls, in our data centers, and in instances running on public clouds. We usually forget one of the more important aspects of modern business: connecting businesses together, securely.

Application integration lies at the heart of much business application development, constructing workflows that link business systems, sending messages between applications that may not have common APIs. There’s a lot of message and workflow architecture out there, linking older mainframes and modern systems, or connecting organizations in a supply chain.

Those supply chains underpin much of our modern industrial manufacturing processes, with workflow software providing the information that links the elements of complex just-in-time systems. They’re powerful tools that need to link any and all line-of-business systems without knowing exactly what’s at the other end of a connection.

Connecting businesses

Not every business can expose an API to another or open a firewall port and directly connect applications. There may be regulatory restrictions or trade secrets that need protection. You might not want Customer A to know you supply Customer B, who happens to be a competitor. Controlling the messages sent between businesses can be the best way to meet all the demands on your business, protecting it from competitors and regulatory oversight.