In November, the Gartner analyst VP responsible for application integration published an article on LinkedIn calling on CIOs to re-think their integration strategy. With the pressures of digital business, traditional vs agile IT (What Gartner calls bimodal IT), and other technology changes, Gartner reckons CIOs and IT managers don’t have the time or resources to handle integration issues using current strategies. The analysts highlight some trends, and provide suggestions on how to accomplish a new integration strategy. In this post we add some practical actions that complement Gartner’s suggestions.
Gartner’s integration trends
We have mentioned before that enterprises should update their integration strategies. Gartner calls integration a “top priority for forward-thinking CIOs”, but note that many CIOs and IT managers tend to relegate integration to an issue that has been addressed once and can be forgotten. They point out that pursuing traditional integration approaches will limit an organization’s ability to cope with digital transformation. Related to this is that the separation of on-premise, cloud, mobile and data integration functions in IT departments does not work anymore in a SMAC-oriented (social, mobile, analytics, cloud) world.
Integration software from traditional vendors doesn’t provide the required solutions for the modern business environment, particularly the ability to enable tech-savvy business users with the ‘do-it-yourself’ (DIY) tools to build integrations without IT support. Allowing a DIY capability provides the two-speed IT that will enable organizations to stay agile and responsive.
Gartner’s recommendations and what organizations can do
The first recommendation from Gartner is to re-examine integration strategies so that IT can support the standard, systematic methodology together with an agile, fast time-to-value approach – what they call ‘adaptive integration’. As we noted in a previous blog post, there are concrete actions that organizations can take, for example assessing each projects against a matrix of complexity vs business value. There’s also a checklist you can use to evaluate each inegration project.
Gartner also advise enabling DIY integration support. Features in Flowgear like ‘Run on Demand’ allow developers to build integrations and leave it up to users to run. The unique ability of the Flowgear Console to show both data and process flow mean that business analysts can also create and maintain basic integrations without developer assistance.
Joining the growing chorus of an ‘API-first’ strategy, Gartner recommend building RESTful APIs to to make integration easier. in another recent blog post, we discussed the benefits of APIs, for example, how you can create composite data sources, and support integrations from different devices. The ‘flowgear.io’ subdomain makes it easier to build and support APIs.
The Gartner integration report uses a new acronym, HIP (Hybrid Integration Platform), noting that as applications and services move increasingly to a SMAC environment, so cloud-oriented integration is becoming standard and acceptable.Hybrid integration was another topic we recently covered – by using an integration platform as a service (iPaaS) you can build a self-service HIP as you need to, starting small and managing the budget as your capabilities grow.
Finally, Gartner recommend selecting integration providers with an open mind. We have organizations around the world contacting us for an integration evaluation, and you can sign up for an evaluation account to do a proof-of-concept.