Hybrid Integration Comes of Age

Hybrid Integration Comes of Age

In our 2005 book, “Integration Competency Center,” [1] David Lyle and I wrote about what is now a hot topic: an integration strategy that features a centralized integration team along with self-service and citizen integrator capabilities. Other analysts have also been writing about it recently – Gartner refers to the approach as Bimodal IT – but it’s not a new idea. To quote from our book:

“ICCs …tend to fall into one of several categories: best practices, standard services, shared services, central services, or self-service. A self-service ICC completes the picture by creating an environment that is sufficiently standardized and automated such that it becomes almost invisible from the perspective of the individual users.”

This is how Informatica Cloud works today. To continue with an excerpt from the book;

Here are just a few examples of how different roles interact with an ICC: 

  • Business analysts extract current-state process models from a repository and check them back in to the repository as future-state models. Consistency of the models is ensured through the use of common modeling tools, which enforce semantics and consistent notation conventions as well as automatic validation against an architectural reference model. 
  • Developers discover existing interfaces (services or message topics) by searching a registry of reusable software assets that includes detailed specifications of the interface, such as a Web Services Definition Language (WSDL) specification. 
  • Project managers schedule a release by submitting the proposed configuration changes to the release management system and receiving notification of the release date once all the appropriate approvals have been validated. A workflow system controls the approval and scheduling process, which the project manager can query at any time to find out where the request is in the process and if there are any roadblocks. 
  • Corporate audit reviews data privacy controls by generating custom queries against the metadata repository, which contains information about system data models, integration data models, security access logs, and data privacy settings. 

There is not a lot of “rocket science” behind these scenarios from a technology perspective (although some sophistication in modeling and metadata tools is necessary). The bigger issue revolves around gaining agreement to a set of standards and governance processes. The role of a self-service ICC is to maintain strict control over a small set of standards concerning how applications interact with each other and over a core set of tools to automate the life-cycle processes around them. 

In 2005 these sorts of self-service or citizen integration capabilities were rare and were largely home-grown by competency centers that had a strong leader and vision.  Today, these practices and commonplace and supported by packaged cloud-based solutions.

[1] John Schmidt and David Lyle, Integration Competency Center, An Implementation Methodology, Informatica, 2005