In an IT landscape dominated by big data, mobility, social networking and cloud computing, integration is growing in importance and its very nature is changing.
According to Stuart Rees, regional vice president – Australia and New Zealand, TIBCO Software, this new integration landscape involves data in motion as well as data at rest, including operational and transient data that will never even be stored in a database or data warehouse.
Delving deeper, Rees believes data in external systems should also be considered, from suppliers, customers, partners, social networks and other sources, all of which lies beyond the corporate firewall, and beyond the control of IT.
Also emphasising the importance of data in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions and public clouds, Rees also consider the "plethora" of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices that will need to access all this data in appropriate formats.
“Not only is the new integration landscape expected to handle new and unfamiliar data types, it is expected to deliver business results in real or near-real time," he explains.
“The need for a comprehensive integration strategy has never been more urgent.
"This strategy must not only take new data types into account, but also address the more fundamental issue of agility because whatever the integration needs of an enterprise may be at the moment, they are certain to change rapidly.”
Five challenges in the new integration landscape include:
1. The real-time reality - For most organisations, the first reality involves the need to integrate real-time data into business processes.
2. The external data dilemma - The second reality is that organisations will be compelled to deal with data that resides outside the firewall.
Gartner’s estimate is that, by 2017, more than two-thirds of all new integration flows will extend outside the enterprise firewall.
3. The cloud complication - The third reality is the rise of SaaS solutions and public clouds. SaaS solutions offer tremendous business advantages to some business units because of their rapid deployment capabilities, elasticity and ‘pay as you go’ pricing structures.
4. The consumerisation crunch - The challenges of acquiring and processing new classes of data are compounded by the need to deliver that data to new platforms.
For IT, aligning to business goals related to the bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon means adapting to constant change.
5. The strategy imperative - In the past, IT departments have most often addressed integration needs on a point-to-point basis, such as the integration of a new supply chain management application with an existing ERP system.
Point-to-point projects were typically driven by a combination of a clear business need backed up by reasonable return on investment (ROI) projections.
In today’s integration-intensive IT environment, with its proliferation of platforms, standards and devices, the old point-to-point approach is not efficient, not cost-effective and not agile.
“These problems are likely to worsen over time," Rees adds.
"What’s needed is a new integration strategy that includes the agility to react quickly to change, flexibility to deal with multiple data types, ability to support event-driven business processes in real time and a clear path to ROI, with the possibility of short-term business wins that demonstrate the strategy’s business value.”