Businesses today are constantly evolving as they undergo a digital transformation, which requires them to make information from their applications and other IT systems available to every line of business across the organization. Delivering this capability is a growing challenge as more cloud applications are making their way into organizations and more mobile applications are being developed that require access to internal data and services. To address this obstacle, businesses have come to realize the value of using a hybrid cloud/on-premises integration platform. Hybrid integration allows on-premises applications to seamlessly integrate with cloud based applications, creating a single platform.
As hybrid IT environments become the new norm, many businesses and IT teams are left wondering what is the right combination of cloud and on-premises integration tools. While the answer is different for everyone, the following six questions provide a foundation to start the conversation.
1. What is your integration "center of gravity"?
Hosting integration tools near the business' key applications and other data sources is important to avoid slow integration transactions between applications. The closer integration is to your applications, the better the performance you can expect.
2. How much control and responsibility do you want?
The next consideration is how much control in terms of hosting and management of the system is desired. It ranges from full control of all installation, development, and operations to full outsourcing of this responsibility to third-party services.
3. Who are your integration users?
With the rise of cloud-based applications, responsibility for integration is changing from solely the IT team to also include business users. As a result, the teams building integrations may not have technical expertise. Most organizations support a combination of traditional integration developers, non-integration developers and a new class of users often labeled "citizen integrators." While the queue for integration projects is increasing, staffing for integration is decreasing. Spreading responsibilities across departments can help control costs while allowing relevant departments to maintain control.
4. How will you keep up with project demand?
Transitioning integration projects to users outside of the core IT integration team is one way to get more work done with fewer investments. But what are other options for keeping up with project demands, while also keeping down integration development costs? Common approaches include offering self-service integration and increasing asset re-use.
5. Do you need flexibility for different types of projects?
Some projects are mission critical and some are rapid development projects that might have a short lifespan. Because of this, consider adopting an integration tool that supports traditional integration projects as well as simpler, faster projects. Another option is adopting internal APIs for integration, giving non-integration specialists tools they already understand to tackle integration projects.
6. How will you ensure data quality for your systems of record?
Integration inherently affects data quality and project stability. Changes in who develops integrations have the potential to introduce risk. Only authorized users should have access to application data and there needs to be a proper level of governance in place.
While there are many things to consider as you develop your hybrid integration strategy, these six key questions will guide business leaders and IT managers through the process. Putting a hybrid integration strategy in place enables organizations to embrace complete enterprise connectivity, allowing them to successfully transform into a truly digital business.
Additionally you should also consider adopting a DevOps methodology to deliver continuous integration for your continuous delivery program. Combining a hybrid integration strategy which supports flexible integrations with a DevOps initiative will improve the delivery cycle and improve the code quality as well, enabling your digital initiatives and speed of innovation.
Navdeep Sidhu is Sr. Director, Product Marketing, Software AG.