Seamlessly integrating multiple applications is a highly specialized and complex problem that has existed in IT for decades.
Over the years it’s taken on different flavors and best practices when it comes to architecture and technology. While many of the underlying fundamental principles of a good application integration architecture remain largely the same (loosely coupling applications, etc.), the underlying technical landscape has shifted, leaving some organizations behind and trying to figure out how they can catch up.
Have you been left behind?
Before the rise of cloud computing, the data center was king. Three main areas constrained and challenged IT organizations, regardless of maturity or industry. They were:
IT organizations had a significant investment in time and money acquiring servers, networking gear, and all the other necessary hardware to support business needs. These IT assets are complex and would require organizations to hire an army of administrators to support it.
The next big investment was software. Organizations spent large amounts of budget on licensing for massive back-end business applications, databases, and more in order to continue running on the infrastructure they had previously invested in. As a company scales, more investment into software is often made or new software hits the market to help create new opportunities for a business.
Finally, organizations had to get all this stuff to talk to each other. They identified that if they could automate the exchange of data between these applications they could realize efficiencies, improve data quality and reliability, etc. and thus, the rise of application and data integration was upon us.
This was achieved with the creation of specific architectures like service-oriented architecture (SOA), and enterprise service bus (ESB), through the availability of specific “middleware” software packages—a centralized software suite that manages the connections and exchange of data between the individual applications.
Following the same paradigm, middleware platforms previously required organizations to install and support multiple software components across multiple (often many) servers within the data center. Products like IBM Integration Bus (IIB), Oracle SOA Suite, Software AG/Web Methods, Tibco, and Redhat Fuse were entrenching themselves in the heart of many organizations.
Luckily for IT organizations, the computing world has changed. Over the past decade, with the explosion of cloud computing and the “as a Service” model, data centers are rapidly becoming a relic of the past with most organizations moving to the cloud. This includes leveraging managed services (including managed integration) and Platform as a Service (iPaaS).
During this time, almost all software applications have now moved to a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. This model offers user-based access and licensing, further shifting the responsibility onto the software and service providers, and freeing up resources to focus on other areas of the business.
Many organizations that lived through this evolution are faced with looming cloud migration or are stuck straddling both worlds—struggling to find a realistic and affordable path ahead. Unsurprisingly, application integration and their middleware software platforms often continue to be at the heart of the problem.
Organizations have shifted the responsibility of managing infrastructure and software to vendors, so why are some of the integrations still an IT relic?
In order to move forward, there are multiple solutions available. Middleware platforms have evolved, adopting cloud computing and “as a Service” strategies through the emergence of Integration Platform as a Service (IPaaS).
So is a replatfoming to an IPaaS solution the best option?
Whilst it is costly, it does tick some boxes on the maturity and reliability spectrum. It also provides benefits surrounding the reduction of infrastructure and its daily management by leveraging cloud computing and hosting services.
But what really changed for IT?
The end result of a replatform still has many similarities to the previous state within the data center. It requires specialized software with a specialized team to operate the custom integrations and executed on the IPaaS; only the underlying technology or platform shifting. It would be like migrating a custom software package from a data center to a cloud-hosted IaaS server, it’s not the same as leveraging a SaaS product. And while this is a step in the right direction, it’s often hard to justify only moving an organization ahead a single step for a significant re-platforming project.
If you were starting a business today, you likely wouldn’t consider the notion of a data center or managing your own servers or software applications. However, many organizations still choose to take on an integration middleware platform, requiring them to license the platform and staff a specialized team to build, administer, and maintain it.
You wouldn’t think to purchase physical servers when Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services take on that responsibility for you at a fraction of the cost. Today, we have Infrastructure as a Service and Software as a Service solutions for almost everything. The missing component is a true Integration as a Service or managed integration.
Managed integration is when a vendor delivers integration solutions through the cloud. It allows organizations to connect backend systems, sources, files, and operational applications with the help of integration and software experts.
Unlike an IPaaS solution, that only provides a cloud-hosted integration platform, managed integration offers a fully managed solution that includes:
It’s a more cost-friendly option that’s best suited for smaller and midsize organizations looking to modernize their systems without stretching internal resources or hiring an integration management team (IPaaS).
Propel Integrations is a managed integration solution that enables organizations to focus on their business purpose, rather than manage their integration solution.
Propel Integrations provides a solution that accelerates an organization’s integration modernization, offers flexible paths forward (without the large upfront costs associated with a full re-platforming), and provides all the benefits of a fully managed service versus internally sourcing and managing highly specialized resources.
The shift is happening in every industry today. Organizations are beginning to think about integrations as they do infrastructure: a costly and complicated business component that needs to be rethought.
The rise and subsequent domination of cloud computing, SaaS products, and managed services are setting a clear path ahead. If you’re contemplating migrating out of your data center or are already on the path but your legacy technology is holding you back, a managed integration service may be the missing piece of the puzzle.
Propel Integration Partners offers a flexible and seamless path forward to a cloud-native, fully managed application integration strategy and solution. Chat to one of our data experts today to see if Propel Integrations might be a good fit for your organization.