Have you Changed your Approach to Integration?

A couple of years ago, I was visiting one of my customers, who was a large semiconductor manufacturer based in the Bay Area. I met with their IT team to give them an update of our product roadmap. As a part of that exchange, I asked them to share their architecture so that I could understand the level of maturity of their application integration efforts. They said they are using their integration middleware very effectively and have a tightly integrated set of applications in their environment. I was very eager to hear how they did it so I pressed them for more information. Out came the response – “Flat files”. Every application they were integrating with would share data with another application via flat files! Not that there is anything wrong with that but their are far more sophisticated, elegant and more importantly scalable ways to do application integration. Flat files may not be the right solution given the recent trends and evolutionary changes happening in the IT world. Given that, have you changed your approach to application integration? If not, here is another one of my checklists.

Application Integration ChecklistAs an IT director / manager / CIO of a company, you need to sit up and read this if you say yes to any of the following. And if you say yes, rethink your integration strategy.

You get high with flat-file based exchange!
As mentioned above, flat files may not always be the scalable solution given the complexities of today’s IT environment. So, rethink!

Your developers start playing punk-rock every time two applications need to be connected
If your IT team is developing point-to-point code every time two or more applications need to be connected, then you are spending a lot of time, money and resources. So, rethink!

When business asks for a quick change, you start rolling up your sleeves…to do a project plan!
Agility is fundamental for an IT organization. If you are unable to have quick turnarounds for all business change requests, you probably do not have a good integration middleware in place. So, rethink!

You have no idea who will lose their job when you turn off that 20-year old application
Ironically, a lot of IT managers do not know their IT landscape that well. As a result, they are unable to confidently off-board an old application just because they are not sure of the impact. Leveraging good EA (Enterprise architecture) modeling tools can also help understand how applications are connected in your environment. So, rethink!

When your CIO says that you are adopting a new SaaS CRM, you say goodbye to your family for the next 6 months
On-boarding a new application should not be complex and a several months-long effort. With a loosely coupled architecture in place with your integration middleware, adopting a new application should be fairly easy and not painful. So, rethink!

When you say that all your systems are “connected”, what you don’t want to say is that you have a real hairball on hand!!
Sometimes, application integration is misconstrued or just implemented incorrectly. IT managers find it difficult to accept that they have a hairball of point-to-point connections on hand. If you don’t untangle it now, you are going to have a bigger mess soon. So, rethink!

All this is relevant and will make more sense when you start planning for growth and scale. In my next post, I will discuss the five important things to consider for a scalable integration strategy.

About Dinesh Chandrasekhar

Dinesh Chandrasekhar has written 27 posts in this blog.

Dinesh Chandrasekhar has more than 16+ years experience in Application Architecture, Integration and Implementation across multiple industry verticals. He has special interest in on-premise / cloud integration, iPaaS solutions, high-speed messaging and solving complex integration problems. He is currently a Sr. Manager of Global Product Marketing at Software AG, responsible for the Application Integration product line.

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