February 06, 2020
Written by Dennis Kelley

How do You Modernize your approach to enterprise integration?

 

It’s time to focus on bringing together your IT practices, business operations and software investments, with a mature and well-connected approach. This is the essence of enterprise integration and it goes well beyond the simple task of connecting up apps, in order to ensure integration becomes one of the key capabilities pushing the success of your business forward.

Gartner Predicts Up to Two-Thirds of iPaaS Vendors Will Not Survive past 2023 …read more.

 

“I have seen a huge shift in the way larger organisations set out their plans to manage software and service integrations. This shift is enabling a significant amount of maturity and modernisation for them. However, I am also seeing just as many businesses not keeping up with this. Still managing, costing and struggling with integration projects in the same old ways. This is creating both highly visible and invisible damage to these businesses and brands.

 

I sincerely hope that every company makes the change to Next Generation Integration approaches, not just for their own sake, but for their customers too!”

 

Juha Berghäll, CEO of ONEiO Cloud Oy

 

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About this article

Enterprise integration is one of the fastest growing trends for large organisations right now. This is because the speed and pace of new technologies and practices entering the workplace is faster than ever. As a result, business leaders (IT and non-IT) are investing in ways to make the connections between their people, teams and software move equally as fast. In this piece we look at how Enterprise IT works and how it relates to other enterprise management methodologies such as SIAM and DevOps.

 

Table of contents

 

What is Enterprise Integration?

We look at enterprise integration as a wide spectrum of integration tools, methodologies and strategies being used together to enable the success of the whole business. This is different to normal ‘integration’ work as we don’t look at it in terms of how do you connect ‘tool x’ to ‘tool y’. But instead how to you connect up ‘business function A, B, C and D’ in order to enable a great level of collaboration and business value. The ground work may look similar, because your integration remains as the process connecting one point to another. However, the goals, language and people involved can be very different.

 

Enterprise integration also has to consider the range of other practices and methodologies in play around the organisation such as ITIL, SIAM, DevOps and so on. This is not just because you need to ensure your integration methodology gels nicely with these concepts, but also because the very nature of enterprise integration will be bringing all the different teams and their methodologies closer together too.

 

For example, a development team using DevOps and Agile methods, may need to be integrating their processes and tools with a third-party vendor using ITIL within in SIAM environment. Just integrating their tools isn’t enough, you need to look at how each team and service has designed processes around managing new requests, changes, configuration, project management and so on. Then look to integrate the nuances in these processes, so that both teams may continue to work effectively and in a way which both sides benefit from the integration. This is the art of enterprise integration, and leaders who can look at it like this (as appose to just managing 10x more integrations!) will be highly successful in the integration work.

 

Learn more in our eBook: A Introduction to Next Generation Enterprise Integration

 

Enterprise Integration and SIAM

SIAM has had a long journey in the IT industry and has in recent years become far more synonymous with high-performing integration. SIAM is very popular in businesses who have a rich variety of vendors and third parties, and there needs to be some management layer between all these vendors, their tools and the internal provision of service management. Read more: The ultimate guide to SIAM - service integration and management

 

Typically, organisations will look to another third party to manage this middle layer, to help ensure each vendor is performing with their SLAs and that projects and changes are co-ordinated across all vendors effectively. However, in recent years and with the emergence of Next Generation iPaaS, it has become far simpler and more affordable for the ‘management’ of third parties to be done internally. This is because modern integration tools make the process of overseeing service integrations quicker, easier and more transparent.

 

For example, where in previous generations of integration technology, you might have had manually produced reports from each vendor and tools. Then you’d compile these reports together into a single place (which is particularly difficult when each tool is using different fields, taxonomy and languages to show similar types of data) in order to then get an idea of what overall performance is like. With Next Generation Tools, every integration is connected up to a centralised hub, which shares data in one single language. This allows you to view, manage and monitor performance in-real time within one place. This essentially makes what was traditionally one of highest costs within SIAM highly automatable, affordable and fast.

 

Enterprise Integration and ITSM

ITSM is extremely important to integration. This is because integration requires a great attention to services and processes in order to be successful. Also, ensuring your key ITSM people feel like they are able to maintain control of those processes whilst implementing integrations is key to this success. 

 

When we look at processes such as incident, problem and change across multiple departments and vendors, we see that they are crucial to so many parts of the business, and not just IT. The success of these processes has one of the biggest knock-on effects on uptime across every service, application and business function. They also underpin the nature of how IT uses their own software and tools.

 

Common tools in big integration projects include ServiceNow, BMC and Jira, which are all important tools within ITSM. This is why it is important to understand how ITSM works within your organisation and use the ITSM tools and processes as the foundation layer to your entire integration ecosystem. A first step to take when approach enterprise integration is to understand and assess how your IT Services work, how they use their tools, what processes they have adopted and then finally what hidden (or undocumented) processes they might be working with. You will quickly find that the ITSM and ITIL-like processes in use within your business, will create a strong backbone for your Enterprise Integration framework and strategy. Read more: The big changes in ITIL 4 you definitely need to know about

 

Enterprise Integration and DevOps

For similar reasons to ITSM, Integration projects need to pay close attention to any DevOps practices going on within the organisation. This is because DevOps tends to direct a lot of the IT changes taking place around the business. And when changes happen (technical or operational) it is likely that this will affect your integrations.

 

You will also find that as you increase your adoption of DevOps, there will be more strain on the different IT team to collaborate more effectively and share tools. Integration and DevOps work well together in these circumstances because you can easily continue with your team changes, and your integration solutions will look after the tools and data side of the work.

 

For Example: You are running a number of applications, some of which your developers use, some of which your IT System Admins use, and some of which they share. You are planning to increase your DevOps capabilities, by bringing a number of the people in these teams together into one team, so they may collaborate more easily and deliver faster. But how they go about sharing the tools they use differently to make these new ways of working successful is proving challenging. People don’t know which platforms they should be using for what task, or how to ensure everyone in the new team can be made aware of changes and updates as they happen. By introducing a Next Generation iPaaS or EiPaaS solution, every individual in the team can continue using their tools of choice. Always safe in the knowledge that what they do or update within their own tool, will be replicated in real-time across the everyone else’s tools.

 

Another important point is that ITSM and DevOps are not competing services within the business. You should see them as a set of functions, which have a lot in common. Integration is then one of the core capabilities surrounding these different functions, which make them work together more effectively. You should never have to CHOOSE between ITSM, DevOps or Integration.

 

Read more: How DevOps changes the way we manage integrations

 

Enterprise Integration and SecOps

Security and Cyber Resilience is one of the most important IT functions within your business. All your systems, software, processes and people are connected and effected by it because every one of them present vulnerabilities to threats and risks. Within the past 5 years, we have seen huge increases in the rise of Cyber Resilience and how seriously business leaders take it. Integration is crucial to this for two reasons. The first is that you need to be sure that the integrations themselves do not present security risks. And the second is that you want to be sure data can be easily passed from one system to another in accurate way, so that when you are collecting information from across the organisation, you can have confidence that what you are looking at is a real representation of what is going on in your ecosystem.  

 

A more specific reason for discussing Security and Integration together, is that you need to ensure that you are aware of the end points around your business. End points such as authentication services and API’s tend to be where IT vulnerabilities come under the most stress and threat. They are also some of the most critical moving parts required for your integrations to run efficiently. Therefore, it is important to both the smooth running of your integration ecosystem and your on-going approach to security, that they are managed in a well-coordinated manner.

 

A highly beneficial step to take is to make sure that the people responsible for SecOps and in your business are involved from the start in your enterprise integration work. Security minded IT staff tend to want really clear visibility of what other teams are planning to do, so that they can provide the very best guidance possible for keeping those services safe and secure. There can be a difficult reputation surrounding security and SecOps teams sometimes, due to their tendency to say ‘no’ to things. However, the only reason this happens is because they find out about security issues far too late down the line. This can go on to create really challenging cultural issues around security within a business, so getting ahead of these challenges by involving the right people at the right time is key!

 

How to Create an Integration Strategy?

Having a manageable and sharable strategy in place for integration, is one of the most helpful assets you can have when trying to make integration really happen! Here is a simple three step process we often use with clients, in order to start the ball rolling with a more formal and effective integration strategy:

 

Read more: 

How to create an integration strategy that really works

How to sell your integration plan and strategy to the business

 

 

Talk to people

Understanding HOW people work is very important to integration. Great integration is not just about tools, it is about processes and the people following them too. Some of these processes and ways of working will be documented and some will not. Your job is to explore the organisation you are about to ‘integrate’ and understand the nuances between each team and function, so that you can provide integration solutions which protect and enable the ways in which they already work. 

 

 

Map out services, tools and processes

Once you have this deep-level understanding, you’ll want to visualise it. By creating a ‘map’ of the teams, their tools and processes, you can begin figuring out where the priorities really are for each connection and integration. Having this map will significantly simplify the approach you take to planning and carrying out your integration work.

 

Start small and mature from there

Integrations aren’t ‘projects’ any more. They are iterative improvements, which you make in order to improve collaboration and efficiency within the business. You can’t see this as something you will spend 6 months planning, 6 weeks implementing and then it’s done. Integration is something you can start today, by making a small improvement and then crafting new ways of working, which allow you to continually mature each and every connection around the business. Whether it be a software, process and people-based connection, putting the solutions and practices in place that work harder for you and your business, is always the right approach. Read more: CSI - continuous service improvement

 

Read more: How to sell integration strategy to business

 

An Overview of Next Generation iPaaS

Next Generation iPaaS is replacing the way we integrate software and services, with a simple, fast and highly affordable method of bringing software together.

 

The most important change that Next Generation iPaaS introduces, is that it focuses on improving business capabilities such as business-wide collaboration and operational efficiency. Whereas traditional iPaaS are far more focused on supporting the day-to-day running of specific IT functions. This elevated way of thinking enables mature IPaaS users to leverage their investment in integrations to really improve the way their business acts and competes within its market place. Read more: Slashing complexity with enterprise integration platform

 

Next Generation iPaaS also introduces a number of major benefits including; unlimited many-to-many connections, 100% subscription-based pricing and a ‘only pay for what you use’ commitments. This not only makes the technology the most fit-for-purpose in modern, fast-moving businesses, but aligns with the most forward-thinking business models and financing methods too.

 

If you would like to learn more about ONEiO, the Next Generation iPaaS for enterprises, you can read our quick and easy to read introductory eGuide to next generation enterprise integration 👇.

 

Alternatively, if you want to put this new of working to test, you can begin your free trial of ONEiO today! Simply create a free 14 day subscription and add your first two applications, it couldn’t be easier!

 

Business Leaders-Next-Generation-Enterprise-Integration-ebook

 

Download e-book: Business leaders introduction to next generation enterprise integration