Cloud / Integration /

An old integration problem is new again

22 October 2012 | Author: Arthur


Over the past 20 years, people have heard the buzz words EAI, ESB and SOA. Although most companies really did not implement any of these very well, those that did, got some truly rewarding benefit from them. In particular, an easier to manage integration environment.

In today’s world, I still see companies that build spider web integrations, or rather, point to point solutions. Each integration is tactical and the thought of “how do we manage this moving forward” is not considered. The problem with this model is that eventually, someone is going to need to find a problematic integration point, figure out where the code is, and try to fix it. Sometimes, it is unclear if anyone even knows where the code is!

For those that have successfully implemented an integration strategy, they know that

  1. the integration is documented
  2. the integration resides within the integration stack
  3. the integration code is available and can be changed

But what happens when organisations start to move to the cloud? Are the same integration considerations taken into account? See, when companies start to venture into the cloud, they need to take the same level of strategic thought and practise as they have when implementing an Integration strategy. They need to know

  • how the cloud services interoperate with the existing and remaining business solutions?
  • how do they maintain SLA’s within the new application and technology portfolio?
  • what integration patterns will need to be used?

I have noticed that many cloud based solutions do not have the same maturity of integration capabilities as more traditional in house applications do, and with the restrictive nature of cloud based systems, for the good of all, it is difficult to access your data and information via integration channels. On the other hand, I also see many cloud based solutions that consider integration capabilities the number 1 priority and you can integrate to your hearts content; or at least the business need. You really need to consider your cloud integration strategy when selecting cloud based solutions.

Consider that if you cannot access the data via integration channels, how will you do it? You will need to be creative!

Avoid the easy path

The cloud gives you new challenges, and most importantly, it gives you real integration challenges. If your developers are building individual integrations, without an integration strategy, then you are going to have the same challenges as those that need to keep finding the source code. In fact, the problem would be worse. In some cases, the integration code no longer resides on your environment. The integration points are completely scattered and with no strategy, the problem increases tenfold when trying to manage your integrations.

Spider Web Integration Pattern – Yuk

Build out your strategy first

When you start to move down the cloud solutions path, you will no doubt take a methodical and very strategic path. You will see what you can leverage, where the costs benefits are and what value the business will get overall. In this process, and as part of your assessment, work out the integration strategy. Ensure that you are clear how interoperable the solutions are and what key patterns you can leverage. Avoid, changing your patterns for each cloud solution and try to keep them aligned to the handful of patterns you choose