This is part of Solutions Review’s Premium Content Series, a collection of contributed columns written by industry experts in maturing software categories. In this submission, Digibee Field CTO Tam Ayers offers an enterprise integration strategy template for several key use cases.
A recent Digibee survey, analyzed in the 2022 State of Enterprise Integration Report, revealed that only 7 percent of more than 1,000 respondents at companies with more than 500 employees have an enterprise integration strategy in place. The report also revealed that 57 percent plan to implement or supplement an enterprise integration strategy within 12 months. So together, with 64 percent of respondents engaged, there clearly is movement in the direction of implementing an enterprise integration strategy, which involves comprehensive planning, technology and process selection for developing and maintaining integrations.
The survey results further indicate that, until now, enterprise integration was not a strategic initiative, but rather an afterthought supporting application deployments, cloud migration and digital transformation. Recently, such initiatives were driven and accelerated by the disruption of COVID-19 and the transition to remote work.
Objectives of an Enterprise Integration Strategy
The “elevation” of enterprise integration from “pipelines and plumbing” to strategic importance reflects the priorities, initiatives and preference for agility in enterprise computing today. Survey respondents prioritized these objectives of enterprise integration nearly equally: support AI and automation enablement (31 percent); improve data security (28 percent); improve security, reliability, and governance (28 percent); reduce operational costs (28 percent); achieve faster time to market (27 percent); improve business analytics and decision-making (24 percent); facilitate cloud migration or digital transformation; (23 percent) and upgrade from legacy infrastructure (21 percent).
What is an enterprise integration strategy?
The difference between a random approach to enterprise integration and an enterprise integration strategy lies in technology or platform selection and analysis of:
- The types of integrations required to support the business
- The individuals who will develop the integrations
- The teams that will own and execute the integration strategy
- How quickly integrations should be developed
- The expertise required to develop integrations
- How the integration technology or platform will scale with the business and support its systems, whether legacy, on premises or cloud based
An enterprise integration strategy recognizes that integrations are essential for supporting business and technology initiatives, and that it’s best to decide on an approach, a methodology and a platform or suite of technologies to streamline integrations so that they support — rather than hinder — change and innovation.
Ideally, rather than point-to-point coding between application programming interfaces (APIs) requiring modifications and testing to support change, integrations should be “plug and play.” Once the interfaces to endpoints are developed, integrating endpoints and modifying integrations should be possible within a day rather than requiring several days or weeks of coding and testing.
It’s easiest to achieve this agility with an enterprise integration platform that supports both legacy and modern systems, whether on-premises or in a cloud. An enterprise integration platform manages integrations within one system, with dashboards displaying their status and activity, and tools to easily create and modify integrations.
However you choose to support an enterprise integration strategy, you’ll ideally move away from point-to-point coding toward managing and accelerating integration development, and you’ll see benefits, especially in security and governance, business continuity, and enterprise agility.
Benefits Enterprise Integration Strategy: Security & Governance
One of the main benefits of an enterprise integration strategy is integration transparency, which is an important attribute for optimal security and governance. The ability to easily monitor and report on the security of every integration through a dashboard, rather than sifting through log files, improves security and breach detection.
If you implement an integration platform solution such as an enterprise integration platform as a service (eiPaaS), you can have granular control, monitoring, logging and alerting of platform and integration access and events. You also can encrypt all data passing through the integrations and the platform. The integration platform itself can integrate with enterprise security solutions as part of a holistic view of enterprise security.
You can schedule, run and automatically deliver reports to demonstrate compliance with internal and external security and governance standards and regulations in your industry. You can easily modify integrations as needed to comply with new and evolving standards and regulations.
Benefits Enterprise Integration Strategy: Business Continuity
In the event of downtime, an outage, system failure, or other disruption to your business, you can more easily achieve your recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs) if you implement an enterprise integration strategy. You’ll recover much faster If your integrations are organized, easily accessible, automatically backed up, and stored redundantly across geographically diverse availability zones within your cloud provider or even across cloud providers as part of your enterprise integration strategy.
If your integrations are randomly organized, backed up, and accessed, disaster recovery could be a protracted nightmare.
Integration error and exception handling as part of an enterprise integration strategy also is important for business continuity. If an endpoint is unavailable, all of its integrations should feature comprehensive error and exception handling such as timeouts, retries, alerts, logging, and real-time status easily visible in a dashboard, with the ability to roll back a transaction and override business rules if needed.
Reporting also is important for disaster recovery, business continuity, governance, and compliance. Business leaders, regulators, customers, insurers, and attorneys require damage assessments and proof of recovery for their records and possible action. The ability to produce enterprise integration disaster recovery and business continuity reports quickly and easily should be part of your enterprise integration strategy.
Benefits Enterprise Integration Strategy: Enterprise Agility
After integrations are secure, transparent, compliant, and easily recoverable, the fun begins. The above-listed objectives of enterprise integration including supporting AI and automation, achieving faster time to market, improving business analytics and decision-making, and facilitating cloud migration and digital transformation all are more easily achievable if integrations can be created and modified at the same pace as those initiatives are implemented. Rather than lagging, integrations should be in step with other aspects of such projects to support enterprise agility and the ability to delight customers.
An enterprise integration strategy should support current and future systems and initiatives and include the ability to rapidly create and modify integrations to support changing business requirements.
- Enterprise Integration Strategy: Objectives & Use Case Benefits - December 1, 2022