The IT function needs agile integration capabilities to realize the true benefits of cloud services. With enterprises adopting many SaaS applications and exploiting cloud-based data stores, on-premise-to-cloud and cloud-to-cloud application and data integration is a key requirement for realization of critical end-to-end functionality and processes, many of which need to be exposed externally via digital channels.
From a broader perspective, the idea of a "connected enterprise" envisages integration as a binding force at the application layer that enables the seamless flow of information across a range of applications, data sources, and business processes. Few enterprise and solution architects approach IT initiatives in a manner that gives integration its due importance. Many organizations continue to struggle with cloud integration and have realized that a shift to a SaaS model, without due consideration of integration aspects, can throw up significant challenges and hinder realization of faster time-to-value.
With the center of gravity of enterprise applications portfolios gradually shifting to the cloud, it is sensible for IT to focus on adoption of cloud-based integration services. As outlined in the recent Ovum report, 2017 Trends to Watch: API-led and Cloud-based Integration, integration PaaS (iPaaS) is a popular solution for cloud integration and has raised the bar on what could be achieved with cloud-based integration services. IT leaders that have so far refrained from any major shifts in strategy for cloud integration will be forced to take corrective actions as the business is not willing to wait for months and follow complex internal processes for delivery of the requisite integration capabilities.
Do not prevaricate over cloud integration issues or try to defend legacy approaches at a strategic level. Enterprises that have not adopted iPaaS so far should start with a proof-of-concept (PoC) to appreciate the simplicity and lightweight nature of cloud-based integration services. It is likely that one of your existing middleware vendors has an iPaaS offering "good enough" from a PoC perspective. Enterprises that are already using iPaaS should look to expand its use to other integration scenarios, including adoption of a more comprehensive middleware-as-a-service (MWaaS) suite. Lines of business (LoBs) can go ahead and adopt iPaaS without any major investment proposition, and therefore it makes sense for an integration competency center (ICC) to embrace iPaaS as an approach to agile integration.
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