April 21, 2021 By Joyil Joseph 4 min read

Application integrations are key to streamlining enterprise business processes and enabling data movement across systems.

Be it real-time payments in the banking industry, distributing vehicle inventory information from a dealership to an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), retrieving product information while servicing a phone or supporting the checkout feature of an e-commerce site, there are multiple application integrations between the systems that support these processes.

As part of digital transformation initiatives, enterprises are adopting cloud computing to take advantage of the optimization and flexibility the cloud platforms and providers bring to the table. Application workloads are moving to cloud platforms, and this will often result in a hybrid cloud target state for enterprises. Public clouds (such as those from IBM, AWS, Azure or Google), SaaS solutions, private clouds, in-house container platforms and traditional data centers are all part of this mix.

A hybrid cloud target introduces the following macro-level integration patterns:

  • Intra-cloud: Integrations between applications in the same cloud platform.
  • Inter-cloud: Integrations between applications deployed in different cloud platforms and cloud-native applications and SaaS solutions.
  • Cloud to on-premises: Integrations between core Systems of Records (SOR) that are on-premises and applications deployed on a cloud through integrations platforms like an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB).

These newer aspects of integrations often get ignored while defining the application transformation roadmap to cloud. Ignoring these distinctions upfront often introduces added complexities at the later part of the cloud journey.

Transforming the integration landscape should be an essential part of any enterprise’s cloud journey. The focus should be there to find and remove redundant integrations, to modernize integrations by adopting modern API and event-driven architectures and to set up an integration platform that is best for the hybrid cloud – a hybrid integration platform (HIP).

Evolution of the enterprise integration landscape

Integration landscapes have evolved over the years as newer architectures and technologies came into play. Point-to-Point (P2P) integrations, Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) middleware and Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) integrations were all part of this evolutionary journey.

Many enterprises will have integrations in their landscape that are realized by one or more of the above patterns. Modern architectures like API/microservices and event-driven architectures are ideal for the hybrid cloud target. Enterprises are targeting to reach a higher level of maturity and realize an optimized integration landscape by adopting these newer architecture patterns.

How to define a modernization roadmap for the integration landscape in three steps

A holistic view of the current integration landscape and its complexity is critical to define a transformation roadmap that is in line with the applications transformation journey to cloud. IBM recommends a three-step approach to define the enterprise integration transformation roadmap:

1. Assess and analyze

Collect information about the company’s existing integrations, along with details about source and target applications, for analysis. Understand the overall integration architecture and any security and compliance needs.

Use the data to assess the criticality and usage of the integrations and determine their target state. Recommended target integration patterns (REST API, SOA service, Event Driven, Message Driven, FTP, P2P, etc.), consolidation possibilities and other key inputs for defining the target integration state comes out of this analysis.

2. Envision the target state

The output from the earlier step will help to define the target integration architecture and the deployment model. While adopting newer architecture patterns like the microservices and event-driven architectures are key considerations for the target architecture, ensure any enterprise-specific integration requirements are part of this step too.

A reference architecture (like this application integration architecture) is usually the best starting point to create a customized target architecture. You can find a wide variety of reference architectures in IBM’s Architecture Center.

3. Define the integration portfolio roadmap

With the target architecture, implementation patterns and a consolidated list of integrations in place, the next step is to create a wave plan to execute the modernization.

First, confirm the business case. Then, identify a minimum viable product (MVP) and realize it to identify any risks before beginning larger modernization programs. The MVP could include a few integrations that cover the critical implementation patterns.

Next steps

Now that the plan to modernize the integration landscape is in place, it’s important to establish the hybrid integration platform that is aligned to the target architecture.

There are many hybrid integration platform solutions in the market that enterprises can adopt. The IBM Cloud Pak® for Integration is the solution that delivers both speed and quality for your applications and integrations by leveraging automation, training AI models with operational data and offering multiple integration styles.  

IBM also has end-to-end capabilities to help enterprises modernize their integration landscape for hybrid cloud. Visit IBM Cloud Integration and IBM Services for Cloud to learn more about how IBM can provide automation and AI to help in your integration modernization journey.

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