7 top considerations in creating a hybrid integration strategy
Digital transformation is on virtually every organization’s priority list and for good reason. Startups and forward-thinking companies are disrupting long-established markets by changing how business is done and how customers on wooed by adopting new technologies.
These disruptors are introducing new business models against which established companies struggle to compete. Ultimate survival in this new world requires hybrid integration which entails the following:
- Deploying new cloud applications in a hybrid IT environment.
- Defining a corporate digital strategy to counter disruptive competitors while offering new digital products and services.
The next step involves creating a best-in-class hybrid integration strategy that is right for your organization. At a high level, it must support integration with everything from cloud application and on-premises application integration to legacy, big data, partner and IoT device integration. It must be flexible enough to integrate tomorrow’s technology trends too.
In addition to connectivity, a hybrid integration plan must support API development and management, DevOps and continuous integration patterns, offer a flexible set of deployment options, whether on-premises or in the cloud using microservices and equally supporting older legacy systems that still deliver value regardless of whether they are designed as monolithic systems.
Here are the issues CIOs and their teams must consider in order to deliver future-proof hybrid integration for their organizations:
Embrace complex cloud integration patterns
As larger enterprises move their systems to the cloud, integrations become more complex, often requiring connectivity with more applications and requiring sophisticated data mapping and transformation steps. Many iPaaS services may look attractive as add-on integration technologies but organizations should anticipate limitations in these tools for solving the kinds of problems that enterprises face. Companies will require more advanced tools for building integrations across diverse cloud application technologies with the intention of creating new business logic rather than data synchronization projects.
Consider cloud-to on-premise integration
Very few organizations are limited to only running in the cloud, as on-premises and legacy applications are not going away anytime soon. And since iPaaS services primarily serve the needs of cloud-to-cloud integration, they typically support few on-premise apps. This means the requirements for cloud-to on-premise integrations will increase.
Companies may believe it makes sense to silo their integration tools, putting a fence around existing on-premise applications and integration technologies while simultaneously choosing a niche iPaaS solution for all new integration projects. However, the problem is that companies will create the need for multiple integration skill sets while also creating redundant efforts. Therefore, when selecting a hybrid integration approach, IT teams must consider how their technology choices will support hybrid cloud-to on-premise integration requirements that will continue to exist for many years to come.
Guarantee broad connectivity
Connectivity to applications and other data sources is one of the biggest integration challenges because there are so many data sources to connect.
For example, consider that an existing large organization might have many kinds of data sources including on-premise ERP systems, legacy and mainframe applications, messaging systems, databases, SaaS applications and big data sources, not to mention partner organizations with which they connect and transmit documents and data. Most integration vendors lack the breadth of connectivity required to handle these use cases.
IT teams must therefore ensure they are choosing technologies wisely to guarantee that their existing technology investments can be connected into the new, changing IT landscape. And this is not just to prevent new data silos – without connectivity, organizations will be limited in the business logic they need to access to provide new digital services, such as public APIs that offer services based on existing data and functionality.
Invest in API management
With the rise of SaaS applications and cloud services, we have seen rapid adoption of APIs as the standard mechanism for sharing data and services. APIs provide an easy-to-use approach for developers to share services and wire systems together. However, hardwiring systems together using APIs can lead to brittle and hard to maintain integrations.
This approach is similar to the situation that existed before integration technologies provided a middle layer between applications to protect companies from creating unmanageable “spaghetti” code. A better approach is for integration specialists to create integration services and then expose those integrations via APIs.
This type of API-based integration enables companies to provide services for ad-hoc developers, eliminating bottlenecks with the global integration specialist team. Any integration platform you invest in must include full lifecycle API management with broad support for all security standards.
Embrace continuous delivery
Historically, integration projects have functioned as monolithic systems where business logic is created within the integration tooling and then deployed with little or no change for extended periods of time. However, as more projects affect front-office business transformation processes, monolithic and static deployments no longer make sense. This shift is causing IT to decompose monolithic structures into finely grained services that can be modified and scaled quickly.
Forward-thinking IT teams shift from deploying updates quarterly or at even longer intervals – some also deploy dozens of updates daily. To support this, companies should ensure that their integration technology supports continuous delivery. And, companies should also ensure that their tools can integrate with and support market-leading container and management technologies such as Docker and Kubernetes as well as DevOps tooling for automated testing and development.
Invest in microservices architectures
Large monolithic systems are coming under scrutiny as companies adapt to cloud architectures and deployment models. Putting too much logic and functionality into a single stack can create maintenance and deployment bottlenecks as business requirements are demanding frequent updates to finely grained services and capabilities.
This approach is leading companies to seek ways to scale out their business logic at the service level rather than the server level. And this is true for integration logic as well. Microservices architectures work hand in hand with DevOps and continuous integration, as well as with API management capabilities, since microservices are typically accessed and initiated via APIs.
Companies investing in a hybrid integration platform must ensure that their solution can handle the flexibility of development and deployment since integration projects will vary in the rate and scale of revisions and deployments.
Prioritize IoT device integration and management
One of the biggest trends impacting companies and their integration technology choices across almost all market segments is the Internet of Things (IoT). With an estimated 50B+ devices connected and managed globally by 2020, companies must address a series of challenges for how IoT sensors and other devices are integrated and managed.
Companies should ensure that their integration technology allows them to connect devices over any network in minutes and provides device condition monitoring as well as real-time analytics and dashboards. Additionally, integration technologies must help companies extend their business models by integrating IoT devices directly with business applications and the workflows they impact.
Hybrid integration continues to demand new technical and architectural capabilities that are essential for success in the digital disruption era. As IT teams consider their integration needs over the next three to five years, they must remember to focus on solving the larger challenges of hybrid integration and not just for short-term fixes.
The digital world is changing rapidly. Companies that adapt quickly will not only avoid being disrupted by nimble competitors but will truly benefit from these changes over the long-term.
Learn more about how CenturyLink can help you create the best IT strategy for your organization.
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