Integration is critical to digital transformation
Integration is what turns a collection of technology initiatives into a cohesive whole.
It is fundamental to the success of any organization’s digital transformation but is a much-underestimated aspect:
Gartner predicted, “Through 2020, integration work will account for 50% of the time and cost of building a digital platform”.
The rise of the extended
All kinds and sizes of businesses are evolving into extended enterprises, working within an ecosystem of partners to deliver products, services and solutions to customers.
The pandemic has added considerable urgency to digital transformation efforts.
Companies need to adopt platform-based business and operational models for third parties to connect with their systems to access data and consume services to support B2B2X and B2C models.
By definition, this means a massive increase in the amount of integration between systems.
Integration creates streamlined processes that underpin automation and consistent customer experience, plus it overcomes data silos so an organization can be data driven.
It enables seamless, replicable integration with partners and customers.
These are all big drivers of digitalization and hallmarks of digital companies.
Integration is expensive, time-consuming and a roadblock to rollout new business offerings. Quick fixes mean inflexibility and retro-engineering further down the line – a millstone of customization instead of configuration.
Poor integration strategy results in broken processes, limited automation, inconsistent customer experience and data silos.
It inhibits the adoption of platform-based business and operational models.
Transforming integration to a modern, hybrid integration platform (HIP) model
Integration tools and practices must themselves undergo transformation as part of the wider digitalization effort.
Many application integration tools are more than a decade old (the yellow boxes to the left of the schematic below) and need to be migrated to modern, cloud native technologies and practices (the blue boxes).
Building blocks: digital-ready, modern, hybrid integration landscape
Enterprises are shifting to hybrid infrastructures – combinations of on-premise plus public, private cloud and multi-cloud resources.
Seamless integration is essential if they are to reap the benefits of cost, speed and scale.
Moving to integration platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) and cloud-native technologies from enterprise service bus (ESB) software and webservices, for example, will have a profound effect on return on investment.
As digitalization progresses, carrying out integrations will become a routine part of many more people’s jobs, ultimately including ordinary business users, rather than being done by specialists.
HIP help for enterprises
Organizations typically do not have the necessary skill sets or resources to create a HIP and there is no single route to success: No two enterprises will have identical starting points, timetables, budgets or priorities.
Torry Harris Integration Solutions (THIS) offers a set of mix and match services to help enterprises successfully transform their integration tools and practices.
The eight sets of services represented below are designed to help THIS’ customer define a transformation plan and execute it successfully.
Data integration transformation through data virtualization
Integration platform transformation is an integral part of an enterprise’s wider digitalization initiative.
The eight red icons shown above are offered by THIS in that wider context, with an integration element.
Based on its extensive experience of working on digital transformation with customers, THIS created three service bundles (shown above in red) specifically for integration transformation.
Hybrid integration platform - Architecture consulting and migration strategy
THIS finds many customers are committed to deploying a HIP but don’t know where or how to start.
THIS offers tailored consulting to help clients define the best architecture for their integration transformation.
It has to support the co-existence of legacy and modern integration technologies, the migration from old to new, and their evolution.
Not all legacy technologies will need to be modernized as the systems or applications they support will be retired rather than become cloud native.
A first step is helping an enterprise understand the assets they have, the assets they will need and when, and the most efficient and effective ways to fill current and future gaps.
The integration maturity model matrix
The table below gives a snapshot of classification criteria for different levels of maturity
clear vision or budget
and registry tools are
not used; review
processes are not
does not exist
exposed but is highly
subjective to a single
and operations team
does not exist
place and their roles and
practices are defined
architecture is defined
standard and uniform
interface but are not
empowered and has full
support of senior
and re-use are identified
and registry tools are
compliance with best
practices and principles
is defined and published
involves in technical
decision making in
are controlled using
strict and disciplined
and strategy in place
effectively to collect
service usage and
to facilitate automated
parameters are defined
define the service
and strategy to measure
resources are measured
aligned; IT can respond
faster to changing
business needs with
capacity is dynamically
managed with cloud
designed with right
granularity to be
composed in a business
projects of the
organization to be
aligned to integration
state-of-the art tools for
monitoring all technical
resources to ensure
high availability and
quality of service
Designing a roadmap
Having established where an organization is, THIS helps customers to draw up a roadmap to get to its HIP destination:
Make the business case for integration transformation overall, as well as in specific instances
Map business capabilities to integration components which
Help to define the migration strategy for integration transformation.
The migration strategy must include a governance and empowerment framework (see below)
Integration platform architecture
The architecture is needed to deliver business objectives consistently, including:
- integration of both applications and data
- asynchronous and synchronous integration scenarios
- hybrid integrations
- integrating user interfaces
- using decision trees and integration rules that determine when to use which integration method and tools – see example below.
Master decision tree
Decision trees to determine integration scenarios and appropriate integration target tools
THIS’ architecture frameworks and decision trees can accelerate progress substantially.
Tailored workshops and setting up an integration center of excellence (CoE) are a part of the THIS services offered to customers.
The core of the CoE
The CoE provides a knowledge base for the entire organization, which is constantly updated and available to all.
The CoE can help with evaluating products and components, such as:
- infrastructure platform-as-a-service (iPaaS)
- microservices framework
- enterprise service bus (ESB) software
- containers and orchestration
- automation and more.
Developing a DevOps strategy
THIS helps clients develop a DevOps strategy in the form of a dedicated roadmap for adoption.
- Tailoring your SDLC to follow DevOps or DevSecOps-centric approach for Cloud-native application development
- Establishing Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD) processes, integrating them with your SDLC
- Identifying the right set of CI/CD tools and frameworks
- Identifying candidates for containerization, Microservices and Cloud Native components to fit in your DevOps strategy
- Introducing automation in different stages of the development lifecycle, such as automated testing, continuous compliance, continuous code quality management, etc., and integrating with CI/CD pipelines.
- Automating deployment in Cloud-Native and hybrid environments using “Infrastructure as a Code” model. Leverage Torry Harris accelerators, such as Deplomatic or other third-party tools that best fit your environment
- Integrating Monitoring and Management with your Cloud Native environment
- Deploying advanced testing into your DevSecOps including practices like Chaos Engineering.
- Re-aligning and transforming traditional ITIL-based support models into a DevOps model.
Setting up governance for integration
In all areas of transformation, it is impossible to exaggerate the importance of good governance and there is no predefined governance structure that intrinsically delivers business benefits. It is important to analyze how clients measure performance, and what their capabilities and constraints are. THIS’ Governance and empowerment framework helps establish a realistic, fit-for-purpose team with clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
THIS’ whitepaper, Why Governance is the key to ROI in Digital Transformation, looks at five key success factors for digital transformation in which good governance has a foundational role.
Arguably it is even more important when deploying a HIP to keep everyone up to date with progress and maintain a uniform level of hybrid integration.
Good governance sets up the structure and processes required to produce the desired results for all stakeholders, making the best use of an enterprise’s resources at any given time.
Formalize roles & responsibilities
Establish standard and best practices
Establish governance process
Define measurement criteria
Figure: Mature governance framework
The governance and empowerment framework
THIS’ governance and empowerment framework is based on its extensive and in-depth experience of what clients need.
The framework facilitates good governance, allowing the initiative to evolve, and iteratively present best practices based on results.
It is also designed to enable cohesive integration across the enterprise to provide consistent guidance and incentives that executives and leaders of business units require.
Make everything API
API governance is a key part of the integration governance and empowerment framework.
APIs operate at many levels – from enterprise-wide architecture to program level.
API governance covers areas like API portfolio management which determines inputs and drivers.
There are business and technical angles to API governance, including:
- funding and charging models for the APIs
- monetization models and
- measuring customers’ satisfaction with APIs.
You can read about The Digital (API) Economy here to learn more about business and operational models.
It’s all about aligning the API and IT portfolios, as shown below.
Alignment of IT portfolio and API portfolio
sales & marketing
IT portfolio management
Project portfolio and
API portfolio management
API portfolio and
The purpose of governance is to align the interests of all stakeholders as closely as possible to the objectives of the organization’s integration-driven digital programs.
Setting up a hybrid integration model and migration services
THIS helps clients design and develop technical building blocks they need based on the HIP model, in context to their organization – see the example below.
No one-size solution fits all.
Hybrid Integration Platform
The reference architecture above shows legacy integration components – such as the enterprise service bus (ESB) and webservices – alongside modern elements such as containers, microservices, and an API gateway.
DevOps cuts across many blocks along with API management.
Building a reference architecture specific to the client helps identify what tools they have now, how they want to use them and how they see themselves progressing to more modern ones at the right time.
The migration strategy for integration is about so much more than figuring out which legacy tech needs modernizing or retiring and when.
Enterprises need an in-depth understanding of how fit the tools are for purpose, how they serve (or don’t serve) business priorities, and synching with other transformation priorities and goals.
Integration transformation is the engine house of digitalization, it cannot be looked at in isolation.
Why hybrid integration?
Digitalization is a top priority for businesses in the digital economy. Far too often, however, organizations move headlong into their digital transformation efforts without stopping to properly prepare their systems and processes for the transition. The results can be costly and ultimately hamper the entire strategy. In 2018, Gartner predicted, “Through 2020, integration work will account for 50% of the time and cost of building a digital platform”.
Hybrid integration should form the initial, crucial step of any digitalization strategy. Integrating your data and applications across your entire IT landscape will help you streamline all of your processes and deliver lasting business outcomes.
Starting with the right hybrid integration platform strategy equips you to accomplish this.
What is hybrid integration?
Hybrid integration is a process by which organizations connect all of their systems, applications and data into a single, seamless whole. As companies transform, they’re increasingly spreading their systems across private and public cloud and on-premise locations. Hybrid integration standardizes the connections between each of these endpoints to give organizations a more robust and efficient IT infrastructure.
Hybrid integration platforms (HIP) play a key role in this process. Most people don’t have native-level familiarity with cloud computing, but success in the digital economy requires that kind of expertise. For organizations in need of support, an HIP provides all the necessary tools and functions to help make their integration strategy — and ultimately their digital transformation — easy and cost-effective.
What is the importance of hybrid integration?
Enterprises face a number of challenges in the modern digital economy that hybrid integration helps solve. These include:
- Highly disruptive technological innovation and market changes.
- IT infrastructure spread across on-premise locations and public and private data centers.
- Operating numerous technologies across a sprawling ecosystem, making it challenging (and costly) to oversee without a central management platform.
Hybrid integration helps create streamlined processes underpinning automation and providing consistent customer experience, all while breaking down obstructive data silos.
Beyond this basic importance, however, companies are realizing the value of transitioning to ecosystem-based enterprises that deliver services, products and solutions to numerous different partners and customers across a wide landscape.
Enterprises in this category are relying on the platform model to bring together their various stakeholders. Hybrid integration enables them to function efficiently and seamlessly.
What are the business benefits of hybrid integration?
Specifically, there are a host of business benefits that come with adopting the right HIP. These include:
HIPs streamline business processes and make the enterprise’s entire organization more efficient by automating connections and increasing scalability. That means enterprises are better able to respond to challenges related to the platform model, with their own innovative solutions.
A hybrid integration solution gives enterprises greater oversight of their entire IT infrastructure ecosystem, allowing them to cut out redundant hardware and software and get more from their legacy systems. That helps enterprises drastically reduce the costs of their IT spend every year.
Centralized management system
The ability to “see” each component of the entire ecosystem means enterprises can easily identify potential vulnerabilities, preventing future security breaches and making their risk management strategies more effective. API management capabilities help them handle all API and other applications.
How do I get started with hybrid integration?
Some enterprises mistakenly believe that the best way to implement hybrid integration is to completely overhaul their IT infrastructure and replace all of their systems and components with the latest versions. Not only is this an ineffective approach, it also ignores the fact that many legacy components can still serve key functions in a hybrid IT environment.
It all starts with having the right mindset. Instead of starting from the basic principle that the entire infrastructure needs to be modernized, enterprises should actually approach integration under the premise that certain parts of their legacy systems should remain intact. Once they’ve decided which legacy components will stay, they can gradually and progressively begin migrating the rest of the system to a more modern integration landscape.
New does not automatically mean better, and enterprises should avoid modernizing just for the sake of modernizing. They should understand how each component is either contributing to the system’s broader function or detracting from it and work to make the entire system work better.
Key integration capabilities in a hybrid integration platform.
These are the people who should have access to hybrid integration infrastructure. They range in skill and capability, but should always include integration specialists, ad hoc integrators, citizen integrators and digital integrators. The power of hybrid integration is that it’s accessible to a constituent base far beyond traditional IT specialists.
The IT space has become significantly more diversified in recent years, so HIPs have to have the capability to integrate across numerous domains. While that includes applications, data and processes, it also must integrate with the domains used by B2B partners, which is critical for ecosystem-based enterprises.
As enterprises evolve, the devices that compose their IT infrastructure are becoming more decentralized and spread out across a much greater physical space. It’s essential that a hybrid integration solution can integrate endpoints from on-premise devices, the cloud, mobile devices and even IoT devices.
Hybrid integration should be deployable across numerous different models, as opposed to staying within the on-premise and cloud environment. That should include embedded models that use headless deployment, which is fast becoming standard fare for SaaS applications.
The hybrid integration platform market is oversaturated, meaning that in addition to these four broad domains, it’s also important to consider HIPs that possess the following core capabilities to help give you a competitive advantage:
- Accelerate ground-to-cloud and cloud-to-cloud integration workflows
- Integrate business platforms, storage repositories and each API to connect all data
- Enable connectivity to SaaS and other cloud applications
Hybrid integration is the key to future digitalization. Torry Harris Integration Solutions is a trusted advisor to enterprises across the world, working with numerous different stakeholders to extend the power of digital access through automated integration.