For some of you “old timers” in the IT industry, you will remember the days when we used to hand-code our own Database Management Systems. Of course today we just go out and buy a general purpose DBMS like MySQL, Oracle, dBASE, or IBM DB2 to name a few. Or, if we wind the clock back further, there was a time when we used to write our own operating systems. Today it comes with the hardware or we can buy an OS like UNIX, iOS, Linux, OS X, Windows, and IBM z/OS. And I can still remember hand-coding network protocols in the days before TCP/IP became ubiquitous. Today we select from UDP, HTTP, POP3, FTP, IMAP, RMI, SOAP and others.
If you’re an engineer working for a software company you may still be innovating in one of these areas, but for the vast majority of professionals in corporate IT departments with a “buy vs. build” philosophy, we treat these like commodities and have long ago moved on to address more value-added business needs. So my question is, why are so many still hand-coding integrations?
The old rationale that hand-coding a point-to-point integration is the fastest and least cost solution is just doesn’t hold water. If you just have one point integration, or 10 or 100, then you could get away with hand coding. But in any large organization with thousands of interfaces, the collection of all interfaces that move data is the Enterprise Integration System and is probably the biggest system in the enterprise. It is also mission critical since big corporations can’t operate effectively without efficient end-to-end data flows and a consolidated view of their critical customer, product and financial information.
Ten years ago you could have made the argument that middleware technologies from software companies (including Informatica) were not comprehensive enough to serve as the Enterprise Integration System which therefore required project teams to fill in the gaps with hand-coded solutions. This argument is no longer valid. The VIBE Virtual Data Machine from Informatica is more than just leading edge technology; it is an integration platform that can serve as a high-availability mission-critical system for managing all data movement within an organization as well as information exchanges with customers and partners.
We live in a knowledge economy where the killer app is information. And the latest killer app that you should buy, rather than build, is your Enterprise Integration System.