What does the business need? Enterprise-ready application integration tools

It’s an understatement to say that there’s a lot going on in your company right now.

Digital transformation initiatives, mergers and acquisitions, competitive threats, a lean IT movement, and an increasingly data-hungry user base are just a few of the forces at work. Executive management or business units (BUs), or both, may be clamoring for faster access to more and better data.

Business units’ requirements are frequently the impetus for change. These groups want faster time to insight, which translates into faster, better data integration through superior enterprise application integration (EAI) tools. BUs want to execute specific initiatives, but struggle to build the necessary integration capabilities with the given skill set, resources, and legacy technology stack [enterprise service buses (ESB), extract transform load (ETL), etc]. 

Whatever the reason for business change, there is probably some friction between IT and your internal customer base (and external customers, too, since many companies directly share data with business partners). Many organizations use multiple tools and/or platforms for application and data integration, to handle the depth and breadth of functional requirements. If it’s taking too long to get the data users need to run the business, there is a systemic lack of productivity with the existing technology stack – a deficiency that may be readily solved by using a single platform that can handle many integration jobs and tasks.

An eight-point checklist for enterprise readiness

  • Flexible delivery of enterprise-grade integration capabilities hinges on many factors, particularly scalability. The integration platform should allow applications and all manner of data stores (data warehouse, big data/data lakes, etc.) to be easily integrated. In this way, the solution can support the entire organization, not just one project or business unit.
  • Bulk data movement is essential to ensure the timely delivery of any amount of data, at any time, to wherever it needs to go. The application and data integration solution should support multiple data transport modes – real-time, streaming, and event-based (including batch) – to address a wide range of speed and trigger requirements. 
  • High availability is necessary to raise enterprise productivity. Whether cloud-based or on-premises, the integration solution should require little downtime for maintenance or data restoration, thus boosting productivity at individual user and aggregate levels. Superior error detection and automation capabilities further enhance date availability, reliability, and accuracy. 
  • Cloud application security allows your organization to retain control data access rights, a critical factor in overall data security. The integration platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) provider should not collect any personal information on behalf of its customers. Nor should it control such information or monitor the content of integration pipelines processed through its service. Meta data and log files should be the only data stored in the cloud, protected by the (third party) web service provider’s robust security and compliance capabilities. In addition, the iPaaS provider should maintain security certificates, and adhere to industry-standard security protocols and practices. 
  • End-to-end audit trails permit all data integrations to be tracked, providing user-level detail. 
  • Geo-redundancy and geo-fencing are required to meet regional performance, availability, and regulatory requirements. The integration solution should support data granularity at regional and country-specific levels; geo-redundancy enables fast disaster recovery, while geo-fencing helps comply with regulations such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • Connecting with the integration applications and data ecosystem is essential for enterprise agility. A wide range of endpoints such as devices, machines, APIs, application, data, and process integration must be supported to allow your company to respond to individual internal and external events. In this way, the application and data integration platform can drive benefits including real-time insights, obtaining a 360-degree customer view, and reducing decision times and business processes runtimes (for example, onboarding new employees or partners faster). Endpoint support should include: Applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), human capital management (HCM), and other systems, as well as: 
    • Data stores (data warehouse, data lakes, etc.) 
    • Application programming interfaces (APIs) 
    • Business processes 
    • Business-to-business (B2B) integration 
    • Internet of Things (IoT) devices and machines 
    • Mobile apps and associated data
  • Self-upgrading on-premises and cloud software that eliminates time- and resource-consuming upgrade cycles. While most cloud software as a service (SaaS) is automatically updated, most on-premises software is not. An iPaaS provider should offer self-updating capabilities instead of forced manual upgrades.

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