The StreamSets and webMethods platforms have now been acquired by IBM 

What is hybrid integration?

How people think about hybrid integration has changed over time. A simple answer is that hybrid integration is the ability to connect applications, data, files and business partners across cloud and on-premises systems. Today, the complete concept is broader than that – addressing integration across Personas, Domains, Endpoints and Deployment Models. This is a definition championed by Gartner.

Regardless of how you define hybrid integration, it is made possible by a Hybrid Integration Platform.

Why does Hybrid Integration matter? (The simple answer)

The simple definition for hybrid integration addresses primarily the “deployment model” element – that is, where it is happening. While we know the world shifting to the cloud, that shift won’t happen overnight. For the foreseeable future data and processes will exist on local servers, in private and public clouds, and everywhere in between.

The transition from on-prem to cloud can be an expensive, laborious, years-long process. Most companies will tackle it in a phased approach, which means they will be operating in this hybrid world for the foreseeable future. However, they can’t afford to wait until the full transition is done to make sure all their data is connected and accessible by all their applications.

That’s where a hybrid integration plays such a big role. It allows all of the systems that a company uses to communicate with each other, just as they are today. Hybrid integration functionality has two key components:

  1. It enables access to all types of applications - packaged, SaaS, and fully customized - to deliver the data and services in a form that can be understood.
  2. It can map and orchestrate data to implement business logic.

This means that companies that aren’t fully modernized can start acting like they are – agile, innovative and fully connected.

However, many businesses struggle to do this and are stuck waiting until they make the transition to the cloud or leave opportunities on the table by letting their data sit in silos.

Why does Hybrid Integration matter? (The complete concept)

Where the integration is happening is just one part of the bigger hybrid integration picture. It also takes into account everyone and everything that needs to work together to make the modern enterprise run like a well-oiled machine. A truly “hybrid” approach requires integration between:

  • Personas: Integration development isn’t just for IT specialists anymore. So-called “citizen integrators - Ad-hoc developers and business users are being asked to develop integrations instead of putting in a ticket with IT.
  • Domains: Integration doesn’t just help applications communicate. It needs to cut across B2B partners, data (for analytics) and process (for automation and orchestration).
  • Endpoints: The devices and sources that need to be integrated into enterprise IT are moving further and further from the core. 25 years ago, it was just on-premises. Over the past few decades that has expanded to the Cloud and to mobile devices. And now is exploding with the exponential growth of IoT devices big and small.
  • Deployment Models: Going back to the more traditional definition of Hybrid – integration deployed across on-premises and cloud Cloud environments.But it also is expanding to include Embedded models using headless deployment – now a requirement for SaaS apps that need underlying integrations to satisfy their end user requirements.

Hybrid integration platforms

In order to do hybrid integration right, a hybrid integration platform isn’t optional. A  hybrid integration platform like webMethods can reduce the cost of developing, testing, deploying and maintaining the ever-expanding definition of hybrid integrations. These platforms are built to connect cloud and on-premise data and applications. They have the ability to plug into the major cloud providers and tools with minimal configuration, as well as accessing on-prem applications. 

A hybrid integration platform can drastically reduce the amount of time a dev team needs to spend on trying to get all applications to work together. They often will offer out-of-the-box connectors that will allow you to configure integrations instead of coding them, which frees up time to focus on more important work.

Key capabilities and how to choose

When looking at hybrid integration platform offerings, you will find a range of how robust and flexible the offerings are. While you will want to find a solution that meets
your specific requirements, there are a few good places to start. 

First, think about what you need the platform to do. Depending on the nature of your business, you may need all of the capabilities that hybrid integration platforms offer. The most robust hybrid integration solutions offer:

  • A stable, secure, scalable way to link and orchestrate on-prem and cloud applications. This is table stakes.
  • Built-in connectors to help relieve the burden on the dev team to hard-code connections.
  • Integration “recipes” that can be reused and modified for common hybrid integration scenarios.
  • The ability to create API-led integrations so that data and services can be accessed in a standard way.
  • The ability to deploy applications anywhere--on premises, in a public or private cloud, or across multiple environments--so you can choose the least expensive solution that meets your needs
  • A support team to reduce tears. (You may miss this, for example, in open-source solutions.)

Second, take a deeper look at the supported apps, hosting environments and partners for each vendor. If the ones that you use most heavily aren’t supported, that isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but it does mean you will need to invest in time and resources to supplement the platform capabilities. You can learn more about Connectors here. 

How hybrid integration may evolve

As mentioned, the scope of hybrid integration is constantly expanding. It should not only be about cross-platform applications but the people who use them (not just IT anymore!), types of integration (not just applications anymore!), mobile and IoT devices, and operating models like embedded and multi-cloud. 

You may need to add more capabilities as you grow:

  • A hybrid UI that enables expert developers to create complex, high-performing services while casual users can drag & drop
  • The ability to exchange data, files, and services with partners and suppliers as well as customers.
  • A microservices platform for cloud-native applications that deliver innovative mobile-friendly products
  • Easy connectivity to IoT sensors and devices to pull device data into business workflows
  • Fully automated testing, deployment, and operations to ensure quality 
  • End-to-end monitoring of integrations for rapid recovery from issues
  • A composable architecture for incremental modernization

Hybrid integration offers a solution to not only access the business logic locked away in legacy systems but also to introduce innovative new customer and partner-facing capabilities. And that business outcome is the lens through which all strategic decisions should be made.

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