Data Integration Platforms: Not Just “What”, but “How” – Part 2

As I discussed before, it’s not enough to walk through a functional checklist for a data integration platform.  It’s important to make sure that it works in the right way.   In my last posting, I discussed the concept of a “unified” platform and its implications for the user experience.

The second key aspect of how a data integration platform works is its openness—how much it is designed to work with the broader IT environment.  Data integration, by definition, touches a large portion of the IT environment, which could mean thousands of different applications and data sources in large organizations.  Moreover, it’s not just the systems inside the firewall you need to be concerned with.

In most cases, it’s important to also support integration with the systems of B2B partners such as customers, suppliers, distributors, etc., as well as any SaaS partners.  And the platform has to support any technology standard such as those for operating systems or databases which have been instituted.  Frankly, there’s not much use in a data integration platform that isn’t designed to work with as broad a range of applications and systems as possible.

Further complicating this need for openness is the fact that IT environments are not static—organizations are constantly adding and changing their systems and applications.  So a final consideration for “how” a data integration platform works is making sure that it will evolve to support any new systems that will come into play in the future.

This is a combination of not only ensuring the flexibility and extensibility of the technical architecture, but ensuring that the platform vendor is committed to keeping up with the latest changes in the IT landscape to ensure interoperability.  In other words, make sure to dig into not only the technical details of the platform, but also the business practices of the vendor, to ensure that the platform will work in your environment, both now and in the future.

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