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Blog December 15, 2017

The not so far future of Integration

Today’s traditional enterprises need to be faster in adopting and constantly changing since their market is often under attack by many new disruptors. Trying to address this a lot of organizations are switching to or implementing bi-modal IT (coined by Gartner 2014?), that is two-speed IT. One traditional IT more slow marathon leg, and one fast-moving sprinter leg. 

Prologue
This blog post was written in April 2016 but for some reason got stuck away in the dusty and secret corners. To avoid oblivion we publish it now and hopefully we will get a sequel with what happened in the last 1½ years.  Enjoy reading this tantalizing blog.
By Kristina Lid, Baseline Manager, Enfo 

Disclaimer
This is the personal thoughts from Kim Lood and Magnus Palmér. Not all references that are needed to back up some of the statements are present yet. Some of the points we just didn’t have time to write more about for now, but would gladly do so.

Bi-Modal IT 

The need for faster speed often creates a problem for a traditional ICC (Integration Competence Center) that is not used to working in such short cycles. If they don’t manage to switch gears it will result in the sprinter part of the organization will go shopping for other providers – outside and inside the organization - that can run in the same pace as they need to do. The same as we see the Line of Business doing today but now it will be sanctioned by IT management.  

However we strongly believe this is somewhat misleading. The whole IT organization should aim for speed, since speed forces innovation and quality. This has actually been proven many times and very much in line with the increasingly popularity of microservices and DevOps/CD (Continuous Delivery), more on that later. Mary Poppendick – author of Lean Software Development – raises her concern for this (DevOps Café podcast 62) 

Cloud – Hybrid Integration 

As more and more organizations look to the cloud for new centralized solutions like HR (SAP SuccessFactor, Workday, Bluegarden etc.) so do the integration solutions – iPaaS. Already 2015 the market increased by 50% compared with 2014 to 400M USD according to Gartner in their 2016 Magical Quadrant for iPaaS report. In it they also vision that: “By 2019, iPaaS will be the integration platform of choice for new integration projects, overtaking the annual revenue growth of traditional application integration suites on the way. 

So when it comes to integration, this has already started and big companies like IBM and SAP are investing heavily in this area to catch up current leaders like MuleSoft. In the case of SAP they position their fairly new integration solution – SAP Hana Cloud Integration – at the center of all their offerings. Still somewhat unknown to many current SAP customers but the awareness and maturity of HCI has increased already in 2015. Already today only about 30% of SAPs revenue is from their traditional ERP suite. IBM talked a lot of this in their annual big conference in Las Vegas – InterConnect 2016. They have an interesting approach using Personas (a common UX practice) to address which one of their many integration solutions is most suitable – see the presentation here. 

In our experience this is an important factor when choosing an integration platform, who will develop and operate it? 

Worth mentioning here is that the SaaS solutions often include an “ESB” and offers to do a lot of the traditional integrations in them.  

Microservices 

The rise of the microservice movement is also gaining a lot of momentum. A lot of this is coming from the application development teams working closer to business in an agile way than the ICC:s do. It solves some hard problems and create new ones and the ICC should be on top of this and at least aid them and provide a uniform message bus across the enterprise. 

In such a distributed environment good knowledge of how to build backwards compatible “data information interfaces” will be essential to avoid costly ripple effects that slows down or breaks the ever increasing speed of changes.  

Microservices will drive more automation and things like centralized logging and monitoring will become a must in such an environment. 

CD - Continuous Delivery 

Today often used interchangeably with DevOps even if it is not really the same thing, or at least, wasn’t originally (CD is more about the process, DevOps about the culture). CD is talking about how to get from idea or business requirement into running in production as fast and smoothly as possible.  

So CD should be about Business plus IT, just as Development and Operations became DevOps focus is now on the whole chain as mentioned.  

Earlier or even today IT was a function, but moving forward it needs to be a natural part of the business, involved much more early. 

Regarding the tools and practices found in CD/DevOps, today Integration is often quite far behind, even if there are good examples of successful implementation also here. 

API and API Management 

Yes, hard to avoid and we can already now see that APIs is starting to become first class citizens in the enterprises. Important both for business and IT. And where you have APIs, you will also have Integration (not always but often). 

IoT - Internet of Things 

Drives big data and analytics. IoT will change everyone’s lives in ways we still can’t imagine, both private and professionally. We have only seen the start of this and there seems to be no end to the possibilities it enables. 

Dark Data / Big Data 

IoT will make it possible to harvest massive high-value information from what is today dark data. ICC should be able to help the business connect, secure and analyze this data. 

If you don’t have statistics and dashboards that business can understand, you will be in trouble sooner or later. 

Integration is everywhere 

Today there are few people that believe that one system or one solution is enough and everything needs or will need to be exchanging information with other systems.  

Integrations, both small and big needs to be delivered faster and we will see yet another try to make it easier for non-IT also do different types of integration. So automated self-service integrations will be needed to offer to the LoB.

So Integration is everywhere; from the trunk of your car to smart trash bins. 

 

Ramblings by Kim Lood, Enfo and Magnus Palmer, Enfo.