What is hybrid integration?

In brief, hybrid integration is the ability to connect applications, data, files, and even business partners across cloud and on-premises systems. It is made possible by a Hybrid Integration Platform. 

Why does hybrid integration matter?

While we know the world is becoming cloudier – i.e. 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 solution 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 packaged applications, SaaS applications, and custom applications, delivering the data and services in a form that can be understood.
  2. It includes data mapping and orchestration functionality that implements business logic.

This means that companies that aren’t cloud-native can start acting like one – 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.

Hybrid integration platforms

A  hybrid integration platform such as webMethods can reduce the cost of developing, testing, deploying and maintaining your 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 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 [link].  

An ever-expanding definition

While the general industry-accepted definition of hybrid integration refers to connecting on-prem and cloud-hosted apps, the scope 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 modernizationBusiness outcomes should always take priority when making strategic investment decisions. 

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.