Is Hand-Coding Integration an Alignment Problem?

Loraine Lawson

There's one thing about integration that befuddles even the experts: Given the number of data-integration solutions available, why is hand-coding still the most common way to integrate?


Philip Howard, the data management research director at Bloor Research, has a theory: It's an alignment problem, traceable to the "mismatch" in specifications between what users want and what IT delivers.


Informatica might just have found the solution in a combination of role-based interfaces, business entities-invoices, customer information, orders, (Informatica calls them logical data objects)-and other new functions, he writes in a recent review of Informatica 9.


Informatica 9 is the company's updated data- integration infrastructure platform. It was released in November to glowing reviews from various experts and analysts, as I shared on this blog.


To be honest, this late in the game, I wouldn't normally post about an additional review, but hand-coding is a major issue for many companies. I've written about it on numerous occasions, and experts still are befuddled about why companies continue to do it.


It's time-consuming, the expenses add up over time, and it can cause major problems if, say, the responsible developer retires or leaves the company. That's what happened to John Shafer, application developer for the e-business portion of Levolor. <strong>Shafer said one person was responsible for mission-critical integration at Levolor before he came on board</strong>. This situation created so much risk, IT actually used risk avoidance to justify investing in Talend's data-integration tool.


Regardless of why companies stick with hand-coding, Howard thinks Informatica might have finally found the ROI lever to motivate them to switch:

My own view is that the specification mismatch' which exists between user requirements and what the developer produces is one of the main reasons why so many companies continue to hand code rather than using a data integration platform: if that mismatch (which exists just as much in hand coded environments) can be overcome through use of business/IT collaboration, which I believe it can, then this will be a major ROI benefit that Informatica can use to overcome the objections of hand coding stalwarts.


Of course, that all depends upon whether he's correct about why organizations still have a culture of hand-coding. I'd be interested to hear if others agree with his reasoning.

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