Technology continues to advance, putting increased pressure on IT departments to keep pace. CIOs are challenged to ensure that that their systems are leveraging the latest innovations to stay competitive, while still providing all the necessary system integration capabilities to enable real time data sharing and to best support business processes.
Systems integration projects that are abandoned, incomplete or don’t meet performance requirements can be disastrous for a business. Take for example an eCommerce web store that is not properly integrated with an ERP system. Out-of-date product availability information can result in delivery delays, ordering of discontinued items, customer frustration and lost business.
Application integration platforms can enable successful systems integrations but only if they provide the functionality that IT departments need to have to keep pace with evolving technologies and expectations.
Here are six ways that system integration platforms can fall short:
Overly Complex Middleware
Too many of the major middleware brands today are actually comprised of dozens of different software modules originally developed by different companies. A complex maze of overlapping middleware can result in multiple interfaces, scripting languages and system requirements that place an undue burden on an IT department that is trying to solve integration challenges. Complex middleware often becomes “shelfware” and fails to deliver on the promise of streamlined business processes. Choosing an integration platform with a unified studio interface delivering comprehensive integration capabilities will greatly reduced the amount of training and skilled resources required.
Unable to Manage Large Volumes of Data
Reliability and scalability are important features for application integration platforms. With the huge volumes of data generated, stored and shared today, In-Memory Data Grid architecture is essential for ensuring both. Data grid architectures distribute processing across multiple nodes, with the grid’s management system tracking the status. With an in-memory data grid architecture, if a node fails, the management system shifts the processing to a different node, thereby preventing any data loss. When traffic peaks and processing requirements increase, the management system automatically recruits more nodes, adding scale elastically when it’sneeded.
Lack of Support for Hybrid Cloud Environments
Instead of differentiating themselves by including radically new technologies to create features that are rarely used once the novelty value has worn off, Apple prefers to take an existing technology and make it work in a more useful way. Outside the early adopter technology world, incremental evolutionary change is a very effective way to convince mass-market consumers to use device features. This seems to be what Apple is now doing with NFC payments: taking a technology that has been around for a while and integrating it into its ecosystem to provide a great customer experience.
The motion co-processor currently works with sports and activity tracker apps, but the really interesting part of the technology is its application for indoor navigation via Bluetooth Beacons. These are small Bluetooth devices that can be placed anywhere, and which can pinpoint a user’s location by triangulating between them and the user’s device for very low cost.
Shops, sports arenas, museums, even public transport systems can gain accurate location of the customers and users by placing a few beacons. Apple Pay will allow users to scan items and pay for them automatically without having to enter any codes, numbers, passwords or queue for checkout, and without compromising security. If you combine these capabilities, it looks like a re-imagining of the retail experience: navigation direct to what you want; and easy payment when you get there.
A phone that knows where you are, can direct you to where you want to go and which provides a secure, authenticated purchasing capability? This will be a game-changer, without even considering where Apple Watch can take this.
I believe that Apple Pay is the untold story of Apple’s latest round of products; and that this is the start of a revolution in payment and retail. It is still early days and more uses and functionality will be revealed as Apple Pay matures and new devices such as the Apple Watch change our behaviours. I cannot wait to see where it takes us. Many have previously tried to enter this segment and if anyone can bring it all together and deliver a secure, fast, easy and good user experience, it’s Apple.
No Support for Real Time Data
Today’s business data is most valuable when it is captured, analyzed and/actioned in real time. Application integration platforms that support In-Memory Data Grids are the ideal enabler for real-time data, as information can be processed faster than previously possible, with multiple processes able to run in parallel. It does not require you to be dependent on the data processing of any one system. Therefore an integrated process workflow running on an In-Memory Data Grid architecture can easily access, process and present real-time business information.
Limited Ability to Mobilize Data
Enterprise mobility is becoming more and more prevalent, requiring the availability of enterprise applications across a variety of devices. A work-flow based integration platform, as opposed to one that is purely data-oriented, allows business processes to be easily mobilized. By coupling it with a multi-channel presentation layer that runs on the same technology stack, the output of your integration flows can be automatically adapted to run natively on different smartphones and tablets.
Insufficient Access to Back-End Systems
No integration solution can exist in a vacuum: by definition its value lies in its ability to connect to a wide range of back-end systems. Therefore you should ensure that your chosen integration solution vendor has strong relationships with the vendors of your key systems, as well as the ability to connect in a predictable manner to other databases, frameworks, applications and endpoints.
When it comes to vendor relationships, be aware of the importance of certified integration connectors. Vendor certifications mean that the integration solution’s connector to that system has been approved and validated by the vendor. In many cases, using an approved integration solution means that your maintenance and support agreements with the vendor will be honored. Using non-vendor-approved integration solutions could leave you without support which will be problematic in case you experience difficulties, where the vendor blames the systems integrator.
Application development platforms provide a unified development process with a common user experience enabling rapid development and integration with cloud architectures and back-end systems. Investing in an application ecosystem is a decision with long term results. Having all of the necessary features built in, makes responding to the dynamic IT landscape simpler and increases the chances of future success.
Click for the online version