Business leaders are constantly looking for new ways to transform their organizations by using technology and data to drive innovation and business results. But before you can think about deriving insights or building seamless customer experiences, you first need to connect and standardize all of the data across your entire application landscape.

From established on-premises systems to newly adopted software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, integration is a critical, yet increasingly complicated, step toward digital business transformation.

Integration has become a bottleneck

Over the last several years the demand for new integrations has far surpassed the capacity most enterprises can handle. Traditional integration approaches simply can’t keep up with the requests. Lowering the cost per integration and is essential to creating a flexible, scalable model for integration.

Nobody can afford to pause their business or rip and replace their entire infrastructure. Instead, businesses are looking for ways to streamline processes, disperse skill sets over a wider range of people, restructure their integration architecture, and utilize new technologies to make integration simpler and more efficient. Adopting an agile integration strategy helps manage these changes across people, processes and architecture. And, as companies look to technology options for streamlined integration, hybrid integration platforms (HIP) are becoming more prevalent.

What is a hybrid integration platform?

According to Ovum, a hybrid integration platform is “a cohesive set of integration software (middleware) products enabling users to develop, secure and govern integration flows connecting diverse applications, systems, services and data stores, as well as enabling rapid API creation/composition and lifecycle management to meet the requirements of a range of hybrid integration use cases.”

In other words, a hybrid integration platform should provide organizations with all of the tools they need to make it simpler and easier to integrate data and applications across any on-premises and multicloud environment. With data silos broken down, businesses have an incredible opportunity to turn their data into actionable insights, allowing them to make better decisions faster.

What are the key capabilities to look for in a hybrid integration platform?

Today’s integration teams need access to a mix of tools that allow them to balance traditional and modern integration styles. When evaluating hybrid integration platforms, here are the most important capabilities you should look to evaluate.

  • API lifecycle management. APIs are among the most common styles of modern integration. Companies need to be able to create, secure, manage and share APIs across environments quickly and easily.
  • Application and data integration. Siloed data is one of the most critical problems organizations face when trying to digitally transform. The ability to copy and synchronize data across applications will help address a variety of issues, including data formats and standards.
  • Messaging and event-driven architecture. Syncing and standardizing data is crucial, but if enterprises want to be able to build more engaging customer experiences or react to things in real-time, they need to have the ability to securely exchange that data across their ecosystem from any cloud-based to on-premise application.
  • High-speed data transfer. The sheer volume of data being exchanged in a modern environment can be staggering. In fact, by 2025, IDC predicts worldwide data creation will reach 163 zettabytes per year. That’s ten times as much data as the world produced in 2017.

Being able to send, share, stream and sync large files reliably and at high speeds is critical to providing the types of real-time responses to data that modern organizations are looking for.

Is it better to build or buy a hybrid integration platform?

Until recently, hybrid integration platforms were mostly thought of as something that organizations needed to build by piecing together key capabilities from existing tools (like API management software, iPaaS and ESB solutions) from a variety of vendors into a cohesive system.

This can be an expensive and cumbersome process, however, and often leads to an end result that fails to meet all of the requirements. Some features or capabilities will be duplicated across offerings from multiple vendors, while others modern integration capabilities, like event streaming or high-speed data transfer, are left out.

Instead, enterprises should consider complete solutions, like IBM Cloud Pak for Integration, which combine all of the capabilities required for both traditional and modern integration styles into a unified, containerized platform. Features like single sign-on, common logging, tracing, an asset repository and a unified dashboard help bring all of the capabilities together and make integration workflows more efficient.

How can a hybrid integration platform help modernize integration?

By utilizing an agile integration approach combined with a robust hybrid integration platform, organizations can empower their teams with everything they need to speed up new integrations while lowering the cost. Done right, organizations will be able to continue using their existing infrastructure and traditional integration styles while introducing new skills, endpoints, use cases and deployment models at their own pace.

A hybrid integration platform should allow for more collaboration, democratization and reuse of assets through features like asset repositories, helping integration teams build and support the volume of integrations that digital transformation initiatives require.

Interested in learning more about hybrid integration platforms and the key capabilities, features and requirements you should look for when evaluating them?

Register to read the Ovum analyst report: Hybrid Integration Platforms: Digital business calls for integration modernization and greater agility.

Learn more about the IBM Cloud Pak for Integration.

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