If there is one thing most organizations & consultants will agree on, it is : Integrations are tough, ranging from mildly frustrating to downright painful.
Given a choice between re-platforming a functioning EDI setup with their vendors for something “newer” or getting their teeth pulled, probably only debatable point will be about the strength of the painkiller for the latter .
This is further complicated by the increasing vocabulary of TLA’s, technical jargon spewing architects & integration subject matter advisors who have depth of know-how in their platforms / tool capabilities but conspicuously low attention on the task at hand. This situation is amply demonstrated by Prof Clay Christensen in this blog about provisioning something as mundane as milkshakes & how easy it is to miss the forest for the trees.
In our experience, most organizations are looking for ways to deliver products / service with a differentiated customer experience, reliably receive the goods / services they procured across their supply chain and timely settlement of their cashflow. That, at a very broad level is their “quarter inch hole” & the underlying force for the ask of Fluid-Integrations across applications, organization & their partners ecosystems. Accomplished integrators get a good handle on these “forces of integration” early on in their engagement with the organization leadership and relentlessly focus on delivering on the same. As they walk down this road, the realization that while tools evolve, the goals pretty much remain the same over long periods.
We believe that a tool agnostic framework for identification, measurement and implementation of the forces of integration is a task an organization can benefit from in the long run as well as upfront.
We had seen this framework in an earlier article and applied it to the evolving pattern of API integration’s. we leveraged further on this framework for evaluating the challenge of applications integration (including A2A / B2B / EDI / API and data integrations including unstructured as well as structured) to visually identify how these patterns differ from each other while still retaining the inherent commonalities.
Here are the highlights :
Principal challenge for organizations as of today / near future remains data integration especially on the variety, volume and velocity dimensions. Consider the challenges of an SAP centric manufacturing organization as they try to grapple with challenge of integrating their material master data along with its dependencies on their ERP platform, keeping mind this is just their structured data.
As the unstructured information, engineering drawings, product images et al are factored in for hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of material data records, few solutions are able to scale upto the challenges inherent in such an integration.
The API integrations pattern is the newest one & is evaluated here.
- For the applications integration pattern, the key dimension seems to be increasing volume and need for higher velocity. As a mature pattern, It is decently supported by the tools available for on-premise / cloud based EAI platforms with increasing trend of using marketplaces for B2B integration.