Trends 2012: Integration-as-a-Service


I suppose this might sound something like “service as a service” since many professional services firms are dedicated to systems integration. But there’s a trend towards data and application integration being done as an automated solution, often delivered through the cloud, rather than as an expensive on-premise project involving dozens of contractors.

Look at Talend, SnapLogic and Informatica Cloud, for example. Each offers tools that enable users to integrate data and applications using pre-built software, commoditizing the integration process.

Informatica is an old school data integrator, SnapLogic was co-founded by Informatica co-founder Gaurav Dhillon and the co-founders of Talend, Bertrand Diard and Fabrice Bonan, come from a systems integrator background. And the technology from these companies is set to totally disrupt business as usual in the integration business.

Web oriented architecture (WOA), a subdivision of service oriented architecture (SOA) that focuses on using HTTP the main means of communication between applications (via REST APIs), makes the process of creating integrations far simpler, and makes it easier to build a single piece of middleware that can be reused and customized by multiple companies. The app store model, along with the flowchart interface common in BPM applications, makes it easier than ever to connect multiple applications. Using tools like Kapow, even applications that don’t have REST APIs can be be integrated into a WOA environment. For some organizations, these tools could replace the need to hire an integration firm. In other cases, the tools could be used by such firms to speed delivery of services.

“Data integration is continuing to be a strong market,” says Talend VP of Marketing Yves de Montcheuil . “Data integration combined with service integration or BPM will be the drivers.”

And it’s not just these middleware-as-app-store companies doing the disrupting. Many cloud-based applications are offering their own app stores full of integrations to other applications. paved the way with its platform and the AppXChange, and companies like Google, Jive, Box and Yammer have all followed. Why mess around with with middleware if your applications provide out of the box integrations?

The integration revolution is especially important for social, collaborative applications. These apps need to be embedded into businesses processes, and/or have context embedded into them. TIBCO tibbr and Qontext are two of the leaders in this area, each offering a slew of out of the box integrations with enterprise software that allow them to bring collaboration to whatever tools your employees need.

The Networked Help Desk project is aiming to unite multiple applications, from vendors such as Atlassian, SugarCRM and Zendesk, to provide tighter out of the box integration to ensure smoother customer service.

SnapLogic’s Dhillon says he’s not too worried about built-in integrations undermining SnapLogic’s business. But he does confirm the trend of customers wanting ready-made integrations, whether that’s from an enterprise app store or from a middleware provider. There’s a big shift towards off the shelf solutions instead of huge custom integrations being driven by the need to use more applications and use them together. “The end of app silos is probably the biggest change since moving off the mainframe,” he says.

Companies like Accenture plan to build their own IP and software-as-a-service, and you can expect that to continue as integration becomes a less cumbersome process. One potential change to watch out for is a shift in the demand for developers from systems integration firms to cloud software vendors.

Whatever the future may hold for integration, you can be sure that ServicesAngle will be watching closely in 2012.

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