Integration Strategy in a Digital World
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Integration Strategy in a Digital World

shutterstock_247334917_350In the report CIO Call to Action: Shake Up Your Integration Strategy to Enable Digital Transformation Gartner says, “Most CIOs have yet to recognize that their traditional, established integration strategy cannot cope with digitization’s fast technology innovation and accelerated pace of business.”

IT integration competency centers  (ICC) and the software they use grew out of the complex requirements of Enterprise Application Integration (EAI). But with the movement to Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) and then Application Program Interfaces (APIs), integration requirements have shifted to lightweight architecture and a self-service delivery model.

Many companies have not adjusted their integration strategy and are struggling to keep up with current integration requirements such as APIs for mobility and SaaS integration.

In the report referenced above Gartner recommends:

  • Make the re-envisioning of your integration strategy a top priority…
  • Encourage and enable DIY integration …
  • Design-for-interoperability approach by pushing an API-first style…
  • Build up, incrementally, a hybrid integration platform (HIP) … for integration specialists, LOB developers and business users in a self-service fashion.
  • Select integration providers for your HIP pragmatically … incumbent integration providers may not be ready …

A shift in integration strategy will require new technology (a HIP in Gartner’s terms). Relatively new technologies in the integration space includes integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) and API management. Technology features to consider in a modern integration architecture include:

  • Metered or subscription based pricing
  • Integration flows that connect applications residing in the cloud and on-premises
  • Support Do-it-yourself (DIY) integration for cloud data synchronization (the citizen integrator)
  • Native cloud deployment without installing and managing integration hardware
  • Cloud features such as multitenancy, elasticity and self-provisioning
  • API developer self-service for rapid mobile and responsive web development
  • API security, throttling, metering, reporting and developer’s portal
  • A lightweight services framework to create APIs natively within application components in a microservices style
  • A DevOps style build and deploy

A modern integration strategy requires a shift in architecture including frameworks for embedded APIs and low-touch SaaS integration. In addition, organizational change is needed to move from a centralized Integration Competency Center (ICC) to a shared-services model. Where an ICC works well for large, complex System-of-Record (SOR) integrations (like an ERP rollout) the ICC becomes a bottleneck for the rapid integration needs of Systems-of-Engagement (SoE) applications like mobility.

Development teams (outside of the ICC) must create APIs within their applications for public consumption in a self-service mode. APIs do need a governance process but it must be lightweight. API management techniques can be used to promote a developer community providing governance with little overhead or burden.

A centralized ICC with legacy tools does not have the development scale needed for digital transformation. There needs to be a purposeful strategy and roadmap for integration across the digital landscape. A pervasive integration roadmap must plan for changes across people, process and technology. “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

Chief Strategist, IT Modernization & Integration

2 thoughts on “Integration Strategy in a Digital World

  1. Being in a fast-paced technologically-advanced era and working in a digital workplace are two big factors for one to start using SaaS instead of the traditional on-premise setup. This article of yours regarding integration strategy is just about right most especially that many are now into Cloud-based services.

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