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Rapid hybrid integration calls for modular solutions that foster user productivity and reduce time to value and cost of ownership. Enterprises need to achieve integration within a few days of subscribing to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application, and frequently need to expose SaaS applications via representational state transfer (REST) APIs for use by mobile applications. Rapid API creation/composition and the implementation of API- and design-first principles are key to the success of digital business initiatives involving the use of APIs.

Several middleware vendors are exploiting APIs to enable rapid hybrid integration

Enterprises of all sizes continue to use integration PaaS (iPaaS) for cloud integration, and it is quite common to see iPaaS chosen over other integration approaches, such as enterprise service bus (ESB) or custom-code development, to achieve on-premises-to-SaaS and SaaS-to-SaaS integration.

API-led integration is a key feature of most of the mature iPaaS solutions available in the market, and some middleware vendors, such as MuleSoft and TIBCO, have added tools for rapid API creation/composition directly to the core iPaaS product. Other vendors, such as IBM, Oracle, and Dell Boomi, support tight integration between their iPaaS and API management solutions to facilitate API-led integration.

A good case in point is N2N Illuminate, a cloud-based, API-led application and data integration platform. The N2N Illuminate platform offers over 120 pre-built APIs to simplify access to common data from key student information systems (SIS), learning management systems (LMS), and other institutional applications. The platform provides users with the ability to create a custom set of institution- or use-case-specific APIs, which can be composed and published within a few minutes. The N2N Illuminate platform can deliver data in JavaScript object notation (JSON), extensible markup language (XML), and comma-separated values (CSV) formats, both in real time and on a pre-defined schedule. "Ease of use" and consumer-grade user experience (UX) are key user productivity features offered by the N2N Illuminate platform for configuring integration flows between on-premises and cloud-based applications and data sources.

The same approach can be extended for integration with key customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and other business applications. An interesting example of how this approach can be extended to mobile application/back-end integration is the implementation of the N2N Illuminate platform at Wentworth Institute of Technology. The technical design and engineering institution based in Boston, Massachusetts used the N2N Illuminate platform and underlying standardized APIs to expose data from its SIS to mobile applications developed on top of Modo Labs' Kurogo platform, thereby providing a centralized UX and information access to its students. Another key capability offered by the N2N Illuminate platform is the rapid creation of APIs using structured query language (SQL) definitions, database procedural definitions, API or service endpoints, data file as a source, and mapping or merging of existing APIs.

Gone are the days when enterprises had million-dollar budgets and several months for individual, use-case-specific integration projects. IT no longer has the luxury of deploying several highly skilled developers to develop integrations using on-premises middleware (e.g. an ESB) to meet rapid hybrid integration requirements. It is time IT leaders focused on exploiting APIs and cloud platforms (i.e. PaaS) fostering API-led integration to deliver greater user productivity and reduce time to value.


Further reading

2018 Trends to Watch: Integration, IT0022-001091 (October 2017)


Saurabh Sharma, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions

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