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EII is yet another business acronym. It stands for Enterprise Information Integration. At its most basic, EII pulls data from a variety of sources to create a single presentation. This collating of data is read-only, however, not read-and-write. In other words, EII makes temporary copies of all the data it accesses, leaving the original data in the virtual places they reside while transferring "snapshots" of those data to destination systems for reporting purposes of the end user. This virtual caching of the data is perhaps the most unique feature of EII.
EII is implemented via the Internet. Unlike other kinds of integration such as EAI, EII allows access to data in three formats: structured, semi-structured, and unstructured. Structured data include server-based collections of information, such as Oracle, SQL Server, and Sybase. Semi-structured data are emails and spreadsheets. Unstructured data are text documents and multimedia presentations, data not easily converted into virtual information.
EII can also be used to combine data housed in different formats. For instance, a company might have information on a subject in word processing documents, spreadsheets, and Web pages. Using EII, the company can have this data delivered from those multiple formats into a cohesive report for easy viewing.
EII also lends itself to creating reports that mix live and static data. For example, a financial officer of a company might want to create a report comparing assets and expenditures of the current year with those of previous years. The data from the previous years is likely stored in a data warehouse or in some other format designed to protect static data, whereas the current year's data is likely stored in easily accessible, dynamic servers. Using EII, that financial officer can collate data from the current year and from previous years to create a comprehensive comparison report.
EII has many applications, for companies and users large and small. It is dynamic and efficient, and rapidly gaining in popularity and functionality.
the same challenges exist for EII that exist for ETL... the data must be in a format that can be consumed by the target application such as a Cognos reporting system. Vendors target EII as a big SOA advance but it is the same old dog with a new name. you don't mention any real innovations like JUMP metadata to this eternal problem.