Microsoft Partner
Microsoft Partner
What is an integration platform? And why is it important?

What is an integration platform? And why is it important?

Systems integration is one of the most significant and persistent challenges faced by Enterprise. Organisations all over the world are struggling to effectively liberate, control and govern their data. They’re dealing with monolithic architectures, legacy systems, data silos, inconsistencies, inefficiencies and duplication.

Manual integrations between systems involve a huge amount of effort. You take a data dump from one system, manually manipulate the data into a compatible format before uploading it to the new system. 

This approach has left organisations with no data governance, poor information security and significant cost inefficiencies. This method is entirely manual, so it opens the door to a huge duplication of effort and over time creates a mess of inefficient and insecure ways of managing data. 

Numerous point to point integrations is often developed to get two systems talking to each other. By creating these 1:1 relationships, developers are able to build an automated process to manage data integration between two distinct points. 

But because the integrations aren’t strategic and don’t scale, they also lead to poor data governance, duplication of effort, gross inefficiency and cost. With new integrations occurring often without visibility, control or the opportunity to evolve, this only adds to the complexity of the enterprise integration picture.

While most organisations are somewhere in the midst of these approaches, experimenting with new technologies and getting into the nitty-gritty of application integration and data liberation, a solution has been building traction: the integration platform.

What is an integration platform?

An integration platform is a solution that allows the development of integrations, strategies and API’s for various systems. They provide centralised access to core data together with an operating model to allow you to continuously evolve the services and integrations on the platform. 

Establishing an integration platform reduces the complex maintenance and communication channels generated by point to point integrations and decouples the connections between source and destination by providing a platform for integration. Integrations can be deployed with minimal changes to existing applications and are kept secure by the policies and SLAs from your chosen provider. 

A number of iPaaS products have risen to prominence, providing this platform essentially “as a service” and has been successful in helping organisations accelerate their integrations. But they bring their own host of challenges into the enterprise integration picture and aren’t always the best fit if you’re embarking on a new strategy today. 

We’ve supported a lot of integration programmes over the years, with recent clients including Heathrow and University of Nottingham, and despite the popularity of iPaaS products, we’ve seen time and time again that building a cloud-native integration platform is often the best way to integrate systems and accelerate your transformation. 

Why is it important?

Chances are you have already adopted a cloud computing platform, or are intending to at some point in the near future. With IT strategy aligning more and more closely with the cloud provider of choice, it is imperative that the wealth of opportunities and tools they make available form part of the integration conversation; If you're using the cloud already for your identity, data and productivity needs, you should consider a solution that can make full use of that, without introducing further platform divergence and data siloing.

Going cloud-native offers everything you need to build out a highly performant, secure and cost-effective integration platform, and will allow you to ensure the applications and data at the centre of your business are accessible to each other. 

It provides a complete and integrated development environment and deployment framework, along with reusable components, architecture patterns, development tools, and other services designed to accelerate and simplify the entire application lifecycle. The cloud provides not only the data-integration components but full platform flexibility with the entire cloud feature set and fully integrated security and monitoring available to you.

By using the wealth of tools, services, and software components offered by your cloud platform provider, not only can you build out a best in class integration platform, organisations can reduce their software engineering workload and develop new system integrations quickly and cost-effectively. 

Plus, your cloud provider manages your underlying infrastructure, freeing your in-house teams to focus on evolving the platform, instead of getting bogged down with infrastructure management. 

Cloud-native offers a wealth of options for cost management and optimisation - a key element for reducing total cost of ownership. It allows organisations to granularly manage costs at a per integration level and optimise integrations as they evolve. 

Cloud-native also gives you a unique platform for modernising existing and legacy systems – a key element of digital transformation. It allows organisations to free themselves from architectures that can’t support rapid change and shake off technical debt and duplication, built up in legacy systems. 

Choosing a cloud-native approach can help solve many of the challenges enterprise integration presents. This explains why 80% of the development is expected to take place on cloud platforms using microservices and cloud functions by 2021.  

Want to learn more about systems integration?  Download our free eBook the CIO's Guide to Enterprise Integration here.