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Application integrations are key to streamlining enterprises business processes and enabling data movement across systems. Be it real-time payments in the banking industry, distributing vehicle inventory information from dealership to an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), retrieving product information while servicing a phone or supporting the checkout feature of an ecommerce site, there are multiple 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. 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 new macro-level integration patterns:
- Intra cloud: Integrations between applications in the same cloud platform
- Inter cloud: Integration between applications deployed in different cloud platforms as well as applications in cloud and SaaS solutions
- Cloud to on-premises: Integration between core Systems of Records (SOR) that are on-premise, and application deployed on a Cloud through integrations platforms like an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)
These newer aspects of integrations often get ignored while defining the applications transformation roadmap to cloud. But, 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. 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). Per Gartner, 65 percent of large organizations will have realized a hybrid integration platform by 2022 to drive their digital transformation.
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 of the enterprises will have integrations realized by one or more of the above patterns in their landscape. 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, as well as 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.
- 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.
- 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 is usually the best starting point to create a customized target architecture. The IBM Hybrid Integration Architecture published in the Architecture Center is a good example of reference architectures that can be adopted.
- Define the integration portfolio roadmap. With the target architecture, implementation patterns and consolidated list of integrations in place, the next step is to create a wave plan to execute the modernization. Confirm the business case in this step before kick starting modernization. Identify a minimum viable product (MVP) and realize it to identify any risks before beginning larger modernization programs. The MVP could include few integrations that cover the critical implementation patterns.
Now that the plan to modernize the integration landscape is in place, one of the important things to next establish is the hybrid integration platform that is aligned to the target architecture defined. There are many hybrid integration platform solutions in the market that enterprises can adopt. The IBM Cloud Pak for Integration is the most robust platform that will help to realize a hybrid integration platform and drive the digital transformations of enterprises in an accelerated fashion.
IBM has the end-to-end capability 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 optimize methods, tools and assets to help in your integration modernization journey.