Having choices when it comes to technology provides us with the ability to select the right tool for the job. But having too many choices can also lead to confusion and indecisiveness around tooling, making it difficult to decide what tool should be used when.
With the newly released integration product from Oracle, Integration Cloud Service (ICS), there could be some confusion and indecisiveness around the usage. Having an integration strategy will help to alleviate this, providing a plan and clarity around what product to use when. In this article, I will provide some guidelines for development of this strategy.
Oracle Integration Cloud Service is an iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service). It resides within the cloud and is available on a monthly subscription basis (further details can be found here).
Gartner has stated that iPaaS is the fastest growing segment in the integration market, with the major drivers for adoption being, what they call ‘digital business’. Organizations are adopting more cloud and mobile applications, driving the new integration needs which can be solved by iPaaS. Gartner has observed that the decision to purchase and implement iPaaS often is not done within the central IT departments (i.e. Integration Competency Centers, or ICC), but rather by LOB managers or leaders of decentralized organizational entities. This is what Gartner calls “the emergence of the adaptive integration approach and citizen integrators”.
Within the ICS product, this “citizen integrator” scenario is very plausible due to the simplification of the integration development environment. Features within ICS include: simplified user interface; availability of selected pre-built solutions within a marketplace; development of transformation maps based on recommendations from others, coming from those with knowledgeable mapping experience including Oracle, customers, and partners; an ever growing list of adapters that provide easy connectivity to cloud based applications.
Death of the Integration Competency Center?
Given this change toward LOB driven integration development, what does this mean to the Integration Competency Center in your company? With a large investment in an on premise Oracle SOA Suite, you may be asking:
Will all integration work shift to the LOB, becoming more decentralized?
What if we adopt ICS, will it mean our ICC is now going the way of the mainframe?
Do we really need ICS?
Before you dismantle your ICC, throw away the solutions developed within Oracle SOA Suite, and update your resume, ponder some sage advice given by Massimo Pezzini, Gartner Research Vice President. Recently, I had the opportunity to listen a webinar by Massimo that provided some best practices for adopting a successful cloud integration strategy. He had four points, as noted below, that should be considered when developing your integration strategy.
Keep Your Investment
“Every investment you made over the past 15 years in terms of on premise integration technology, methodologies, approaches, skills, and organizations are usable in this new world. Keep them. They will prove very, very important to help you move forward toward the new era of digital business”
So the ICC is not heading toward obsolescence!
Oracle has developed the integration solutions using a shared common architecture, standards, and products between cloud (ICS) and on premise (SOA Suite) solutions. The knowledge that exists within the on premise integration technology is invaluable. Having the depth to understand the tenets of reuse, integration patterns (i.e. pub/sub, event based), and best practices (i.e. monitoring, logging, notifications, sensors) will enable knowledgeable choices to be made within the ICS integration space.
Also, because of reuse capabilities between ICS and Oracle SOA Suite, including transformation maps, adapters, data enrichment, and lookups tables, these assets can be leveraged across platforms (cloud and on premise) and amongst business units.
“..look at iPaaS and adopt an iPaaS to complement your established integration platform. Not as a replacement, but as a complementary solution”
Understanding that both integration tools serve a distinct purpose and that it is not an ‘either/or’ decision is important. This will enable your company to meet the business integration needs within the cloud, on premise, along with any fluidity between the two. This means targeting the usage of ICS for cloud application (SaaS) integration, keeping solutions developed within the Oracle SOA Suite for on premise application integrations. It also provides the option to move solutions between the two as business needs arise.
“…think about changing the role of the integration competency center.” “Think about evolving this role from a doer towards a facilitator.”
The integration competency center has the skills and lessons learned that can help ensure integration success by the LOBs. As a facilitator, there is the opportunity to provide consistency across LOBs, avoiding the ‘FrankenCloud’ syndrome. By assisting the citizen integrator, the ICC can ensure best practices (i.e. security, QoS, SLAs, etc.) and reuse (i.e. mapping) are observed, enabling integration success by the LOBs. For further details on embracing the citizen integrator, see Gartner.
Integration to Support Business Needs
“...set up a hybrid integration platform strategy, combining your existing on premise integration technology with iPaaS”
Understanding the business integration needs will aid in the definition of the appropriate integration strategy. This will ensure the business integration needs are met on premise, within the cloud and between the two. This includes understanding the following:
Are all your existing and future integration needs in the cloud?
Are all you integration needs on premise?
Do your integration needs require a hybrid approach enabling a combination of on premise and cloud integrations?
With a hybrid approach, ideally an OSB would be used on premise to broker between back end applications and cloud applications. Along with this, defining best practices and guidelines to ensure the right tool is used for the job is critical in the hybrid model. Definition around when to use ICS vs. on premise SOA Suite will help alleviate misuse of the tools, along with missed opportunities for reuse.
Developing your cloud integration strategy sooner rather than later will ensure the quickly growing iPaaS segment will address the impending integration needs of your business.