Why App Integration May Become a Competitive Advantage

    How important is integration? Pretty darn important, according to Gartner experts, who told audiences that a lack of application integration skills could put companies at a “serious competitive disadvantage” in the next few years.

    That was the message at Gartner’s recent Application Architecture, Development & Integration Summit, according to this TechTarget article.

    If it seems a bit dramatic, consider how the applications landscape has changed in recent years and how it’s poised to evolve in the next few years. Not only are more applications being delivered from the cloud, but we’re (finally!) seeing a true mobile revolution, with more people using applications on tablets and smartphones.

    All of that doesn’t happen without integration, though. And integration — as you well know — can be expensive.

    Gartner expects application integration costs to rise 33 percent from 2013 to 2016. Jeff Schulman, a group vice president and team manager for Gartner, told the AADI audience that more than half of a new system’s implementation costs will be spent on integration in the next five years.

    APIs (application programming interfaces) are the most common way of handling integration of Web-based applications. But more and more, I’m seeing warnings about the limitations and restrictions of integration by APIs.

    Gartner analyst Benoit Lheureux apparently discussed the shortcomings of APIs and REST, which is how most Web-based APIs are written. While this particular TechTarget article didn’t provide more details, another article on the sister site, SearchCloudApplications, does.

    That article offers a more detailed look at what’s problematic about SaaS integration. Among the challenges pointed out by Lheureux and other experts:

    • Cloud vendors often have lengthy, proprietary and complicated APIs.
    • Traditional integration technologies aren’t designed to work with cloud, and that can create problems.
    • Orchestration of data flow is “the most-needed integration functionality” when it comes to integrating the cloud.
    • There are still connectivity and security issues when you’re sharing volumes of data between cloud and on-premise.

    As an added bonus, the article lists what you should consider when evaluating a SaaS vendor’s integration capabilities, as well as a brief discussion of third-party integration tools, such as Dell Boomi, Jitterbit, Talend, Talend, Kapow, IBM’s Cast Iron and so on.

    It also offers a much-needed discussion about how companies can start to build a cloud integration strategy, pointing out you’ll want to address four main issues:

    • Transformations
    • Security
    • Data Volume
    • Orchestration

    Actually, it’s fun to learn Lheureux’s current thoughts on this matter, since he actually was among the first to broach this subject back in 2009 when he asked “Will WOA API Adoption Kill Integration?”

    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson is a freelance writer specializing in technology and business issues, including integration, health care IT, cloud and Big Data.

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