Gartner’s Massimo Pezzini spoke this morning at the AADI Conference in London on the topic of why integration is even more critical in the ever-expanding world of cloud computing. Pezzini started out by commenting that application integration was a science that we were finally beginning to master just as the game changed with the arrival of cloud computing. With this game change comes new realities and consequences for cloud services integration (CSI) that Pezzini laid out as follows:
- Your organization plays in one or more “virtual enterprises”
- Cloud services (e.g. SaaS) hold some of your data
- Cloud services manage “chunks” of some of your business processes
- Your application portfolio will include both on-premise and cloud apps
- You wil have to increasingly share data with your partners and participate in their business processes (and vice versa)
- Your data will be fragmented across cloud and on-premise
- Your end-to-end processes will span cloud and on-premise
He followed up this foundation for his discussion with what he described as the three key issues facing businesses looking to integrate cloud and on-premise applications:
Key Issue #1: Will cloud service integration affect integration competency centers’ established methodologies, organizational settings and governance models?
Pezzini talked about what hasn’t really changed about CSI integration. For starters, he is of the opinion that integration issues remain roughly the same. Companies still need to integrate processes, pay attention to time to market, ensure agility and perform data aggregation. As well, there’s still the challenge of data consistency, multi-step processes and managing composite applications. According to Pezzini, the core technologies required to support these things remain still mostly the same.
Where Pezzini felt that CSI changes the game involves new expectations coming from a new breed of buyer: “Business leaders expect to deliver functionality in a matter of hours or days.” He provided the following additional differences that indicate that the old methods need to be re-thought in a cloud environment:
- CSI requirements can be more opportunistic and informal than traditional methods.
- On the positive side, many SaaS applications provide end-user-oriented integration functionality.
- SaaS projects manifest integration requirements incrementally rather than the more traditional longer release cycles and fewer phases.
- SaaS APIs usually hide data schemas and semantics.
- CSI security requirements are more demanding than traditional application to application. The security requirements, in fact, are more similar to B2B applications.
- SaaS and external Web API’s life cycle are not subject to bilateral agreements. APIs can change at any time and what worked yesterday may not work today.
Key Issue #2: How will integration PaaS enable cloud service integration?
Pezzini said that most obvious answer is that cloud software is delivered as a service and comes without a significant IT operations burden. Beyond that, model-driven development tools, packaged integrations, self-service, crowd-sourcing tools, subscription-based pricing and elastic infrastructure are all powerful enabling features that can’t be ignored.
He laid out four specific use cases for iPaaS use as a cloud integration tool:
- Cloud services integration (common)
- E-commerce B2B integration (common)
- Web API publishing (emerging)
- Classic on-premise integration (emerging)
The last point may seem surprising but Pezzini provided that iPaaS is gradually evolving to allow companies to integrate globally in circumstances where technical support isn’t feasible across in all locations. Once iPaaS tools become familiar, this use case will become more common.
Pezzini also reported that vendors are moving rapidly toward the iPaaS market as more companies recognize their customers’ needs to provide cloud integration. Likewise, SaaS vendors are beginning to embed iPaaS technologies in their platforms as a necessity that customers are demanding. Rather than build their own, many SaaS vendors are embedding 3rd-party tools to provide this functionality.
Pezzini believes that by 2016, at least 35% of all large and mid-size organizations worldwide will be using one or more iPaaS offerings in some form. This will be driven by ease of use, embedding by SaaS vendors, classic vendors joining the market, and by mobile integration combined with the need for integration of the “Internet of Things.”
Key Issue #3: Which mix of iPaaS, traditional integration middleware and outsourcing services will best support your business?
Pezzini laid out four ways to integrate cloud, each offering benefits and risks:
- Point-to-point – Often the least expensive on a project-by-project basis, but costly as complexity increases. This can easily lead to “spaghetti integration.”
- On-premise integration platform – A familiar approach with known skills but complex and costly.
- Integration PaaS – Great for rapid integration with low internal cost but suboptimal for demanding platforms (e.g. B2B). This is the best approach when integration is primarily for the cloud.
- Integration brokerage – This approach takes advantage of the provider’s infrastructure, but there’s a risk of losing project control. This also brings the risk of loss of intellectual property and vendor lock-in.
Pezzini believes that within a few years, most enterprises will need to manage a hybrid of cloud and on-premise applications. This reality will force organizations to embrace CSI or be left behind by more efficient competitors that can rely on integrated systems. He concluded by urging organizations to clearly identify CSI requirements before choosing the best approach.
This article first appeared on The TIBCO Blog and has been lightly edited.