Data in translation

When you travel to a different country, how do you prepare? Making sure your passport is up-to-date is clearly crucial, as is packing the appropriate clothing. Maybe you change your phone plan to an international one so that you can communicate to your friends and family back home.

But what about tools for translation – how do you make sure your devices still work? How do you make sure you can understand the local language? Sure, these concerns aren’t quite as pressing or as obvious as, say, buying a plane ticket, but they will certainly affect your trip if you neglect to address them. Without them, your ability to function drops significantly.

In IT, data travelling between different applications or servers is like people travelling between different countries. Integrators and adapters are the conversion and translation tools that allow data to function and interact with the data that resides in “foreign” territory. We won’t get too technical here, but the following provides a fuller explanation of what integrators and adaptors actually are:


Integrators are software or middleware applications that integrate data between 2 or more business applications. Every company has multiple business applications that provide various functionality or tools for different users or departments. Despite the fact they are designated to perform different tasks or provide different functionality, these business applications must be able to “talk” to each other in order to streamline operations and provide a holistic snapshot of the business. Integrators “translate” the programming language of one application to another, which allows them to understand the data in their own context. Integrators also help to increase data security and scalability.

A common and simple example of an integrator would be software that allows an Accounting application to pull and apply data initially plugged into a Revenue application; the departments perform different functions, but pull from the same pool of information.


Adaptors perform a function similar to integrators – technically speaking, they are extended code snippets built right into integration software – but they work between 2 or more servers. Adapters help determine how to read, write, and move data between applications on different servers. Like power converters, adaptors provide the tools to transform data from a source and make it accessible for another user.

Some examples of adapters are:

  • File Adapters: read/write files to or from one server to another
  • FTP Adapters: move files to or from one server to another
  • DB (Database) Adapters: read/write files to or from a particular database
  • Queues: determine how to prioritize and process data that is received from multiple locations. Queues help to handle data and keep it organized even if the business application is down by maintaining the data in place until the application is running and ready for integration.

So what does this process actually look like?

Let’s say a business user in Austin wants to upload/move some data into another application that is running on Houston server. As step one, business users generally are asked to keep files in a shared location on their server. Once the file is saved in the appropriate place on the Austin server, the integrator software (application) grabs the file using one of the adapters mentioned above (in this case, the FTP adapter) and moves the file to Houston Server. After that the integrator application uses another adapter (in this case File Adapter) to read the contents of the file and write it into the database (using DB Adapter) of the application that is on Houston server. Any errors or exceptions during this process can be sent as email notifications to the business user indicating whether or not the file has been successfully uploaded.

Building your IT infrastructure without adaptors and/or integrators is like traveling to a foreign country without translation tools.  

It’s certainly possible, but it creates unnecessary hurdles and workarounds for your users, resulting in lost productivity and an increased risk of human error. In one case, a Filenet-Oracle integration project saved a mid-size Oil and Gas company $3.2 million dollars per year in operational costs and lasted only 3-4 months! Interested in how integrators and adaptors can improve your infrastructure? Contact us to learn more!

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