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The Key to IT and Engineering Speed and Agility: Integration Platforms

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The Key to IT and Engineering Speed and Agility: Integration Platforms

In general, reasons for adopting iPaaS fall into four main categories: scope, speed, ecosystem, and democratization of work.

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Introduction

At its heart, technology moves towards greater connectivity. For systems and applications that don’t connect the way we need them to, an integration platform is the solution. Whether it's a legacy database whose contents are siloed off or an enterprise with a hundred disparate SaaS applications, an integration platform solves the modern connectivity problem in a scalable way.

Integration platforms as a service (iPaaS) create connections between applications, databases, services, and systems, and they do it quickly. They provide the foundational highway where workflows and data can be shared. Instead of direct coupling of software endpoints, integration platforms can easily connect systems with enterprise-level reliability and no need to individually build each connection.

Depending on your organization, the reasons for adopting iPaaS will be different. In general, however, reasons for adopting fall into four main categories, depending on your number of systems and your business case.

1. Scope

By dint of technological innovation, there are lots of things for an enterprise to cobble together: microservices, IoT devices, business SaaS applications, databases (legacy or not), and different devices. These systems might operate on different business logic and were not built to work together.

Forging connections between these heterogeneous systems can be difficult with a traditional architecture. However, with so many heterogeneous systems, the traditional model is not working. We need a rethink. An integration platform approach provides a central yet flexible routing center to build integrations at scale.

The legacy approach of direct, explicit couplings of these disparate touchpoints is simply too complicated. When an integration web connects logic that may change as touch points are swapped in and out, it makes a lot more sense to use an integration platform. They can not only handle the different communication protocols but also don’t have to be rebuilt when a new entry is added (just reconfigured).

Multisystem integration scenarios like these are best with an integration platform. An iPaaS works as a one-time connection to the platform which then simplifies each subsequent integration. The right integration platform will come pre-configured with many commonly used business applications and a low setup cost for on-premise or first party services. Indeed, many companies buy iPaaS solely for the connectivity between SaaS applications.

2. Speed

Is your process for building integrations scalable for completing a dozen software integrations? Building an integration between applications involves scoping, building, and testing. How long will it take you to build this and can your stakeholders wait that long?

Time spent building integrations is money lost. Luckily, the proverbial wheel has already been invented. Since the touchpoints in an integration platform are pre-connected, you can connect applications at speed instead of building the connections from scratch. Connections to APIs have allowed modern iPaaS to achieve repeatability in connections and affords extra features such as on-demand data flow, scheduled syncs, and integration with microservices.

An integration platform sets the groundwork that produces integrations with minimal additional work. Each connection made with the platform benefits from guaranteed reliability and high repeatability. Since the communication between APIs is standardized by the integration platform, building a connection can happen in minutes. Unlike an ESB or broker system, an integration platform orchestrates requests in a way that implementation and rate control is no longer a problem.

An important byproduct of speed is the added agility. Instead of committing yourself into a particular software because of the heavy integrations surrounding it, an integration platform lets you switch programs in and out with little cost. You can adopt (and even test) the best in-class technology without fear of future logistics.

3. Ecosystem

When you are pursuing an API strategy for internal databases or applications, consider the ecosystem that they would be connecting to. After you open up your app with an API, what’s next? The right data means nothing if it doesn’t get to an application of value. Without the right ecosystem, you may find yourself further from meaningful connections than you thought you would be.

An integration platform like Azuqua provides a pre-built library of valuable SaaS or systems for your application to connect to. If your lines of business are using project management, sales, marketing, or customer service software, then it would be most beneficial to choose an integration platform with connections to those applications.

For those with first-party services or on-premise, legacy systems, prebuilt connectors in an integration platform instantly open up possibilities and use cases that otherwise would be impossible to forge. Furthermore, a platform can set up workflows between three or more applications with ease, which a legacy approach simply cannot do with point-to-point connections.

The right integration platform lets you:

  • Host microservices and create uncoupled, useful services that can be combined into a whole. There's no need to stitch microservices together; an integration platform can consume a microservice in the same workflow as communicating with a SaaS product.

  • Tap into cloud or on-prem databases. Not all information is in the cloud. As a large company who has legacy systems from a pre-cloud era, you still have useful information in your legacy systems. An integration platform can connect these systems to applications of value and bridge the gap between data and action.

  • Connect to APIs. Don’t spend time learning and documenting individual APIs. An integration platform simplifies the process and makes it easier to query and communicate with APIs.

4. Democratization of Work

The integration platform also provides the opportunity to reframe the distribution of responsibility and empower end users. If IT writes an integration solution, lines of business cannot work with it or change it. Any changes must go through a game of telephone. This puts the responsibility for creating solutions entirely on the IT department. This has been a reality for so long that we don’t even realize that it’s a problem.

The most usable platforms will allow end-users to build connections intuitively with visual ease. You can call it crowdsourcing for systems integration. Others see it as citizen empowerment. People in IT might see it as reducing their backlog. Either way you slice it, the right integration platform has the opportunity to enable more people to do the heavy work. Connections get built by the people who need them, instead of bottlenecking at the doorsteps of developers.

However, if integration platforms give power to the end user, they give the final say to IT. The things that matter for security compliance, like permissions, access, and data paths are rightfully put under IT’s control, making it a win-win for all parties involved.

Conclusion (and Innovation)

If you think that the key to better business results is cross-system orchestration, you’re in good company. It’s time to rethink your integration approach. An integration platform provides the framework to connect SaaS, legacy systems, and first-party services with speed and scale.

With the right platform, IT can deputize citizen integrators to set up their own processes to export, duplicate, and synchronize information across systems in the fraction of the time as a legacy approach. At the same time, deputizing end users gives IT more flexibility to govern and innovate, instead of remaining as a “doer.”

With such an important initiative, take the opportunity to evaluate new integration platforms.

Explore the core elements of owning an API strategy and best practices for effective API programs. Download the API Owner's Manual, brought to you by 3Scale by Red Hat

Topics:
integration ,ipaas ,integration platforms

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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