Today’s modern IT organizations are driven to find new applications that will streamline their business and position their company to be more agile and productive, while at the same time, helping to reduce costs. These new applications can be either cloud-based, such as a SaaS or IaaS solution, or premise-based. In most cases, however, a hybrid of both cloud and on-premises applications are used as organizations opt to choose the best solution for their pain, regardless of how it is accessed. Hybrid application environments can be seen as a vital move to help the business meet its challenges, but can create integration challenges which impact the entire organization.
Did you remember to include integration into your plan?
As you modernize your infrastructure with new applications, you often need to untangle years of customizations and layers of applications to reveal dependencies you didn’t realize you had. Often your discovering that your legacy systems are knitted together by a strange collection of custom-scripted integrations that resulted from tactical projects between IT and the various business owners that now no one agree on who owns.
These integration solutions were originally meant to be temporary, but, as you know, temporary often becomes permanent. Once temporary becomes permanent we forget why we originally designed a solution the way we did, and begin referencing it as “that’s just how we have always done things”.
It is never too late to implement an enterprise integration strategy that meets your objectives to streamline your business and make your organization more agile and productive. Rather than just trying to solve the immediate integration challenges, a well-planned strategy allows you to customize and be prepared for future integration as well.
Once you commit to implementing an enterprise integrate strategy, the next decision is how? Most organizations are challenged with a hybrid environment that includes a multitude of on-premises and cloud systems, leaving you to wonder, what methodology you should use to build all the various integrations that are required.
Understanding Application Connector Methodologies
There are different methodologies you can use for an integration project – primarily the point-to-point and hub-and-spoke approaches. When deciding on the proper methodology, it is important to remember your decision will directly impact the level of effort needed to both implement and support that integration solution. In addition, different you will use different tools depending on the methodology you choose.
Point-to-point (or direct connections) – This approach is used to develop a connector to link one specific application to another. This usually occurs by writing custom code that communicates with the Application Program Interface (API) of the source application on one end and the API of the target application on the other.
The point-to-point approach is practical only when you need a limited number of connectors and you do not expect them to change often. The point-to-point approach does not scale well because the connectors require enterprises and SaaS companies to write a unique piece of software for every connection that is needed. Due to no standard process or platform for developing the integration, updates are more difficult and expensive to implement.
Point-to-point connections are unique and, therefore, require each connection to be managed separately, with its own separate documentation, providing any exist. For example, if you want to connect a set of six applications to each other, you must write 15 unique connectors one-at-a-time-from each application to every other application in the set (as shown in the Figure below).
Hub-and-spoke– An approach where a central (hub) system is responsible for managing communication between applications and a connector (spoke) for each application. This allows an application to communicate with other applications through the hub. An example of a hub-and-spoke architecture is an integration platform as a service (iPaaS) offering, such as Scribe Online..
Hub-and-spoke is a preferred methodology when you have multiple integrations to create and maintain. As the Figure below shows, connecting those same six applications in a hub-and-spoke architecture means that you only need to create six connectors to bring the applications into the hub. The hub-and-spoke approach also makes it much easier to react to application changes which impact the connector. Since all applications connect to the hub in a similar way, you now have a standard process for developing the integration so updates and changes are easier to make.
Centralized management streamlines administration so in place of managing many distributed individual integrations points and searching for documentation that may not exist everything is now in one place.
Hub-and-spoke designs, therefore, reduce the number of connections required to integrate applications.
You are now familiar with the two integration methodologies and can see why the hub-and-spoke approach would make the most sense for your integration project and be the most efficient approach.
Scribe Online offers you a cloud-based integration service, or iPaaS, which offers a hub-and- spoke architecture to connect your hybrid environment of cloud and on-premises applications to each other. Scribe Online is a cloud-based integration hub which provides centralized management capabilities through a dashboard view of your integrations.
Along with a self-documenting development studio, which gives you the ability to have your own IT team build your integrations and then look to your business unit analysts to maintain their own integrations in a uniform way.
Using Scribe as your iPaaS solution you can address your new integration projects as well as convert your point-to-point “temporary” integrations into something permanent that fits into your overall IT strategy and future requirements.