Technology continues to advance, putting increased pressure on IT departments to keep pace. CIOs are challenged to ensure that that their systems are leveraging the latest innovations to stay competitive, while still providing all the necessary system integration capabilities to enable real time data sharing and to best support business processes.
Systems integration projects that are abandoned, incomplete or don’t meet performance requirements can be disastrous for a business. Take for example an eCommerce web store that is not properly integrated with an ERP system. Out-of-date product availability information can result in delivery delays, ordering of discontinued items, customer frustration and lost business.
Application integration platforms can enable successful systems integrations but only if they provide the functionality that IT departments need to have to keep pace with evolving technologies and expectations.
Here are six ways that system integration platforms can fall short.
Overly Complex Middleware
Too many of the major middleware brands today are actually comprised of dozens of different software modules originally developed by different companies. A complex maze of overlapping middleware can result in multiple interfaces, scripting languages and system requirements that place an undue burden on an IT department that is trying to solve integration challenges. Complex middleware often becomes “shelfware” and fails to deliver on the promise of streamlined business processes. Choosing an integration platform with a unified studio interface delivering comprehensive integration capabilities will greatly reduced the amount of training and skilled resources required.
Unable to Manage Large Volumes of Data
Reliability and scalability are important features for application integration platforms. With the huge volumes of data generated, stored and shared today, In-Memory Data Grid architecture is essential for ensuring both. Data grid architectures distribute processing across multiple nodes, with the grid’s management system tracking the status. With an in-memory data grid architecture, if a node fails, the management system shifts the processing to a different node, thereby preventing any data loss. When traffic peaks and processing requirements increase, the management system automatically recruits more nodes, adding scale elastically when it’s needed.
Lack of Support for Hybrid Cloud Environments
Today most organizations use a variety of cloud-based systems, which are often procured on short-term contracts and frequently switched from one supplier to another. Manual coding for integration is complex and labor intensive, making switching between applications error-prone and time and cost prohibitive. By maintaining integration workflow and business logic without recoding, a processed-based application integration platform makes it easy for businesses to move to cloud-based systems, reducing risks and aiding agility.
No Support for Real Time Data
Today’s business data is most valuable when it is captured, analyzed and/actioned in real time. Application integration platforms that support In-Memory Data Grids are the ideal enabler for real-time data, as information can be processed faster than previously possible, with multiple processes able to run in parallel. It does not require you to be dependent on the data processing of any one system. Therefore an integrated process workflow running on an In-Memory Data Grid architecture can easily access, process and present real-time business information.
Limited Ability to Mobilize Data
Enterprise mobility is becoming more and more prevalent, requiring the availability of enterprise applications across a variety of devices. A work-flow based integration platform, as opposed to one that is purely data-oriented, allows business processes to be easily mobilized. By coupling it with a multi-channel presentation layer that runs on the same technology stack, the output of your integration flows can be automatically adapted to run natively on different smartphones and tablets.
Insufficient Access to Back-End Systems
No integration solution can exist in a vacuum: by definition its value lies in its ability to connect to a wide range of back-end systems. Therefore you should ensure that your chosen integration solution vendor has strong relationships with the vendors of your key systems, as well as the ability to connect in a predictable manner to other databases, frameworks, applications and endpoints.
When it comes to vendor relationships, be aware of the importance of certified integration connectors. Vendor certifications mean that the integration solution’s connector to that system has been approved and validated by the vendor. In many cases, using an approved integration solution means that your maintenance and support agreements with the vendor will be honored. Using non-vendor-approved integration solutions could leave you without support which will be problematic in case you experience difficulties, where the vendor blames the systems integrator.
Application development platforms provide a unified development process with a common user experience enabling rapid development and integration with cloud architectures and back-end systems. Investing in an application ecosystem is a decision with long term results. Having all of the necessary features built in, makes responding to the dynamic IT landscape simpler and increases the chances of future success.
Glenn Johnson is Senior Vice President of Magic Software Enterprises Americas. He is is the author of the award-winning blog Integrate My JDE and contributor to the Business Week Guide to Multimedia Presentations (Osborne-McGraw Hill). He has presented at Collaborate, Interop, COMMON, CIO Logistics Forum and dozens of other user groups and conferences. His interviews on software industry issues have been aired on the NBC Today Show, E! News, Discovery and more.