How to ensure your integration landscape keeps pace with digital transformation
Over time, integration inevitably increases in complexity. This complexity is a result of the greater diversity of resources that we need to integrate, in ever-increasing permutations of infrastructures and platforms. Furthermore, the people who are involved in integrating systems are no longer centralized in a single technical team, but are spread throughout and beyond the enterprise.
In parallel, and in part as a result of this increase in complexity, a competing drive aims to simplify and rationalize integration. Web APIs have matured to become a common platform and language-agnostic way for applications to communicate. Infrastructure is ever more virtualized and containerized to free run times from hardware and operating system specifics and enable elastic workload orchestration. Teams are learning to more effectively join their development and operations staff together and automate from build to deployment for rapid release cycles.
The challenges are truly hybrid in many different senses of the word. Locations, teams, methods, platforms, and more are continuously diverging. The architecture of the integration across this hybrid environment is evolving at a rapid pace.
This article explores how hybrid integration has evolved. First, we examine how the scope of integration has changed with the move to cloud. Next, we define the high-level characteristics of a hybrid integration capability. Then, we explain how IT is less often a central function within the organization. We continue by looking at the fundamental building blocks of a hybrid integration architecture and how integration can be productized though the API economy. Finally, we highlight how you can recognize and satisfy the needs of the digital team and improve consistency across the hybrid environment.
Today, the ownership boundary of an enterprise spreads well beyond its walls, encompassing IT assets across a truly hybrid environment. In this architecture, existing applications are moved to the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) of cloud providers. New applications are often built on the cloud as a platform as a service (PaaS). In line with this trend, a surge is also taking place in the use of pre-built cloud-based software as a service (SaaS).
In addition, interaction with external parties, whether customers or business partners, is increasingly automated. The degree of automation with those external parties is often a business differentiator.
As such, any integration capability must fundamentally address connectivity across cloud boundaries. This capability must also simplify the security and management issues that it brings and embrace the standards that are evolving within hybrid architectures.
Hybrid integration is often simplistically defined as the ability to integrate on-premises systems with cloud systems. The reality for most organizations has much broader dimensions. A true hybrid integration architecture considers integration between all the owned environments, spanning on-premises and cloud environments, and whether that cloud is local, dedicated, or public. It also spans from a self-built environment to platforms to SaaS. It also must factor how the enterprise connects with its partners and customers. Hybrid integration has a vast scope. The key challenge is how to interpret that complexity and find common architectural patterns within it to help simplify the problem.
At a high level, hybrid integration is a broad integration framework. It seamlessly bridges all owned environments, whether direct data sources, applications, or APIs, and can connect to them wherever they might be: on-premises, IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS.
Hybrid integration must contain broad connectivity capabilities for modern cloud-based applications and to equally critical, but older systems of record (SOR).