Why is it that point-to-point integration has such a bad reputation and negative connotation? We’ve all seen the infamous hairball (or spaghetti) picture of information exchanges between systems that looks something like this:
But point-to-point is not the problem – variation is. When different teams develop point interfaces without standards or re-useable components and without shared governance and controls, the result is a tangled hairball every time.
A million integration points is not a problem if they have been implemented using common patterns and are monitored, managed and updated using data-driven automated tools. Airlines keep track of millions of reservations, retailers sell millions of products and web search engines keep track of millions (if not billions) of web pages because they have standardized the process and turned it into an automated data-driven self-service system. We can do the same for data integration.
In fact we have. It’s called Informatica Cloud. Cloud services allow end-users (not developers) to connect on-premise and cloud-based applications, databases, flat files, file feeds and even social networking sites, and exchange data between them. Under the covers is an automated data-driven system – the Informatica Cloud platform. As users deploy more and more point integrations, the hairball doesn’t emerge because governance is built in. The cloud platform uses standard patterns, controls access, automatically generates data lineage metadata, and keeps track of all changes. IT operations no longer need to hunt for documentation or call a meeting of multiple SMEs to figure out which applications or databases are exchanging information – all the relevant information is in the metadata repository.
Note that I am NOT suggesting that all integrations be point-to-point. There are other integration patterns such as master data, intermediate canonical formats, integration hub and data virtualization which all provide business value in the right scenarios. My argument is that point-to-point is a very viable, even essential, integration pattern when done correctly.
Informatica Cloud is a win-win scenario. Business users win because they get access to the data quickly and can change mappings fast, without launching an IT project, if needs changes or sources/targets change (which is a constant reality when working in the cloud). IT operations win because they have clear visibility and control over integration points. Architects and developers win by efficiently creating new application integration capabilities with the new Informatica Cloud Developer Edition. And the enterprise wins because the fastest (and least expensive) way to move data from point A to point B is a straight line.