Now that most IT solutions are built from software that comes from multiple providers integration is always key to business improvement. Gone are the days of "raze and rebuild" where you could redesign an entire IT solution when business needs change as they inevitably do.

Today, we pick and choose elements of a solution and integrate them. We usually build around existing solutions to add functionality rather then replace them.

To achieve this look for the best ways to interconnect elements of a sotution in such a way that each element can have its own sofwtare lifecycle. We utilise Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and standards-based technologies such as XML, SOAP, REST etc.

A good example of this is in projects where we apply our event management toolkit to work with an existing CRM database. Here, we typically use a REST interface to expose a number of functional objects that allow access to the database from the web system while protecting data integrity.

In another case we used an existing SOA interface to connect an assessment management solution to an existing online testing platform in real time. This was complicated because the existing platform was using a very restricted SOAP dialect. Here we deployed "Mono" which implements Microsoft-style SOA on a linux platform to bridge the gap. This is illustrative of the power of open source software to perform integration.