Email Integration – A Primer

 
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Former Community Manager
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<body lang=EN-US link=blue vlink=purple style='tab-interval:.5in'>






style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>
style='font-size:14.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt'>Email Integration – A
Primer<o:p></o:p>




style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>
style='font-size:14.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt'><o:p> </o:p>




style='mso-bidi-font-weight:normal'>
style='font-size:14.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:12.0pt'><o:p> </o:p>



<o:p> </o:p>



What and Why<o:p></o:p>





<o:p> </o:p>



Since IT uses several different systems and applications to
keep the electrons flowing for business, we are often faced with the challenges
of integrating two or more technical solutions, especially when
class=GramE>its
required to share data between applications.
style="mso-spacerun:yes"> 
There are several ways to exchange data
for integration.  There web services
using SOAP and REST.  You can push
or pull data with a direct database connection.
style="mso-spacerun:yes"> 
Sometimes a vendor will build a
proprietary integration between different products from the same enterprise
suite.  Then there’s my favorite
type of integration, the email. 
While not the most reliable method, since the receiving system doesn’t
send a return acknowledgement, it is one of the most common methods available
that can quickly get two products talking to each other.
style="mso-spacerun:yes"> 
This guide is to serve as a primer for
getting started on such an integration.



<o:p> </o:p>







Requirements<o:p></o:p>







<o:p> </o:p>



Before discussing email integration, we first need to
outline some requirements:



<o:p> </o:p>



<![if !supportLists]>
style='mso-fareast-font-family:Cambria;mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-bidi-font-family:Cambria;mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin'>
style='mso-list:Ignore'>1.    
<![endif]>The receiving system has the ability to accept
and parse through emails.



<![if !supportLists]>
style='mso-fareast-font-family:Cambria;mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-bidi-font-family:Cambria;mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin'>
style='mso-list:Ignore'>2.    
<![endif]>The sending system has the ability to send data
in a specific email format, and at special circumstances, such as a save to the
database or by a special event.



<![if !supportLists]>
style='mso-fareast-font-family:Cambria;mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-bidi-font-family:Cambria;mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin'>
style='mso-list:Ignore'>3.    
<![endif]>Both systems share the same email compatibility,
such as using HTML vs. plain text emails.



<![if !supportLists]>
style='mso-fareast-font-family:Cambria;mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-bidi-font-family:Cambria;mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-latin'>
style='mso-list:Ignore'>4.    
<![endif]>If data is sensitive and the email server is
outside of the local network, then encryption should be used to protect the
data as its transmitted.



<o:p> </o:p>







The Steps<o:p></o:p>







<o:p> </o:p>



Step 1:
style="mso-spacerun:yes"> 
Map your data<o:p></o:p>



<o:p> </o:p>



This is probably the most cumbersome and time consuming step
in the process, and one that should involve a business analyst or user from
each of the systems.  List out every
data element for each application, preferably using Excel or some other
spreadsheet app.  Once every data
element is written down, go through each one and map data from the first system
to the corresponding data element in the second system.
style="mso-spacerun:yes"> 
Here is where there’s opportunity to
even decide if a data element is required to be shared.
style="mso-spacerun:yes"> 
As an example:



<o:p> </o:p>



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<o:p> </o:p>



Step 2:
style="mso-spacerun:yes"> 
Define when data needs to be shared<o:p></o:p>



<o:p> </o:p>



This step can be more complicated if there’s two-way
communication, as it means the need to create definitions for both
systems.  If it’s one-way communication,
then most of the definition will be focused on the sending application.
style="mso-spacerun:yes"> 
Here as well, user input will be
required to ensure the correct actions are being defined.
style="mso-spacerun:yes"> 
Using the same spreadsheet as in step 1,
the definitions can be expanded:



<o:p> </o:p>



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src="getting_started_email_integration_files/image004.png" v:shapes="Picture_x0020_2"><![endif]>



<o:p> </o:p>



Step 3:
style="mso-spacerun:yes"> 
Define email format<o:p></o:p>



<o:p> </o:p>



Two systems can only “talk” to each other when it’s a
language they understand.  It’s
important to define exactly how the email will be formatted.
style="mso-spacerun:yes"> 
Commonly, it’s usually with a single
data element on a single line.  If
there’s a field name, it may be in the format of field name: data value. 
Using a colon, or some other punctuation mark, is necessary for the next
step.



<o:p> </o:p>



Step 4:
style="mso-spacerun:yes"> 
Develop the parsing code<o:p></o:p>



<o:p> </o:p>



For the application receiving an email, there needs to be a
way to parse out a field name and the value.
style="mso-spacerun:yes"> 
This will usually involve reading a line
of the email and then parsing out the text string using a scripting or
programming language, such as Java or VB Script.
style="mso-spacerun:yes"> 
There is where the colon comes in handy
for step 3, as most languages will allow you to search for a specific character
to find the separation between the field name and the field value.
style="mso-spacerun:yes"> 
As part of the technical requirement for
the receiving system, there also needs to be a way to define how a field in the
email gets saved to the corresponding field as defined in step 1.



<o:p> </o:p>



Step 5:
style="mso-spacerun:yes"> 
Create sending definitions<o:p></o:p>



<o:p> </o:p>



The fifth, and final step, will vary based on the technology
of the sending system.  There needs
to be a way to trigger an email to be sent, such as a database save trigger or
system event.  Once an event is
defined, there then needs to be a way to technologically create the email in
the specific defined format.  Once
again, you may end up using a programming language to create the format, but
several tools available may also have generic templates that can be used.



<o:p> </o:p>



<o:p> </o:p>







Final Thoughts<o:p></o:p>







<o:p> </o:p>



As web services and proprietary API’s improve with ease and
security, the use of email for integration will certainly decline.
style="mso-spacerun:yes"> 
At this time though, email is still the
easiest method for integrating two applications as most tools in IT that store
or manage data have some kind of email mechanism.
style="mso-spacerun:yes"> 
If you’re working with two applications
that can accept, as well as send emails, then an email
integration will prove to be the quickest way to share information.



<o:p> </o:p>



For additional information on SysAid’s
email integration, click
href="https://www.sysaid.com/help-page.htm?helpPageId=4208&helpPageName=IntegrationEmail.htm&edition=2&version=v14.3.10&Admin=Y&productId=1&lang=en&notAddingIndexJSP=true">here

to checkout our Online Aid.





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