Discover more from Fogplug by Thor Ingham
Episode 2: Help. I have been tasked with making integration a core part of our strategy
Hi, and welcome to episode two. The title of this podcast.
Help I've been tasked with making integration. A core part of our strategy.
This is the second podcast on the podcast for fogplug dot com. I'm Thor. And, I'm happy to guide you through. My take on how one can implement integration as a core part of ones strategy.
Often I'm approached by individuals who seek guidance on how they should approach the never ending need for integration.
Unfortunately many have lost control of their integrations. This could be fueled by a renewed focus on cost with in the enterprise or business unit. And often integration is taking up too much of the budget. It could, on the other hand also be lack of integration, agility. Where the business wants digital assets in the marketplace.
However, due to the current pace and quality of integrations. It's not feasible in the timeframe required. Digital assets from my point of view or what we refer to as API . So what makes an API. What is an API? Well, APIs require data. The developers that consume API. They want a frictionless experience since the consumers are the business. Technically, it's not difficult to create or provide an API.
The processes involved in fueling the API. This is however, a lot more than a technology fix. It will involve the integration team. Application teams and product owners to name a few. Remember. API as our digital products. Products usually have a business owner. A, plan. And, they require market testing and continuous refinement.
And, let's not forget about marketing.
If you have a great API, And, no one knows about it. Who's going to consume it.
To tackle these areas as part of my day job. As the chief technology officer in our Avella. We have created a set of frameworks and methodologies. That can be applied to any client regardless. Of the level of maturity.
Typically, we would start out with a set of workshops to uncover the pain points in the existing approach. And also have time to get to know each other. Integration is the marathon. And not a sprint.
If this sounds interesting to you feel free to reach out.
Typically the workshops will point out one or more phases to implement depending on where one wants to go. Avella follows Gartner's maturity model for pervasive integration. When deciding where one currently is and where one, wants to be on the maturity level.
We have a three phase plan. To strategic integration and it consists of the following broad topics.
A multi-step plan over phases to implement a strategic approach to enterprise application, API management and event driven architecture. Will ultimately lead to a self service integration platform.
This is often referred to as a hybrid integration platform by some. Others call it a shared service. It depends on. Which studies one reads or which reports one reads.
Phase one. Could be something like this. We start out by defining the integration strategy.
We conduct an assessment of the organization's integration needs and goals, and we develop a comprehensive integration strategy. That aligns with the organization's overall business strategy.
We would then move on to implement an integration platform. We would identify and implement an integration platform that meets the organization's integration requirements. That were found in the previous step.
And these requirement's, they should support both an enterprise application integration strategy and integration requirements and support both entperprise application, integration, architecture, and an event driven architecture. This should include API management capabilities. And it needs to support both synchronous and asynchronous communication.
Once we have a plan in place and we know. What we want to achieve. Then we can start to look into developing some initial integrations. We will then, identify and prioritize the organization's most critical integration needs and develop initial integrations using the new platform. These integrations should demonstrate the benefits of the new platform. And build momentum for further adoption. It's crucial that we don't. Start out with the most complex integration needs. Because what we want to achieve.
Is there a reputation within the organization? That we are quick. That we are agile. That we are able to translate. Business requirements into technical requirements and deliver on those promises.
Once the initial integrations have been created. And put into production. We need to establish an integration governance strategy.
We do this by defining and establishing a governance framework, which includes policies and procedures for managing integrations.
And we need to ensure compliance with relevant regulations and standards if applicable.
So to summarize phase one. You need an integration strategy. You need to implement an integration platform. You should develop some initial integrations. We could call that a proof of concept, if you will. And we need to establish integration governance.
This is something that we have developed the framework and methodology for doing.
And the second phase we would expand the integration platform. We would expand it to support additional systems and applications. We would integrate it with cloud-based services if needed.
We then move on to implement the platform as a self service integration platform.
What we want to do is develop and implement a self service integration capability, which allows business users to create and manage integrations. Using a user friendly interface.
This should include support for both simple and complex integrations.
To be able to have self service in an organization. You need data. And the way to get to data in an easy. Fashion. Is to create great API for internal usage.
By creating APIs on the integration platform and publishing them as APIs This is easier. For others to consume the data. These APIs, should hide the complexities of your applications. There is no need. For a business user. Or a project. To know all the intricacies of your legacy applications. One can use API management tools. To hide this complexity.
Moving on. We have to have focus on automated integration testing. We need automated. Integration testing to ensure the quality and reliability of integrations. This will also speed up integration development. And the deployment process.
We should now be in a state where it's time to establish a center of excellence. I mentioned the center of excellence in my previous talk. Now and central excellence for integration is a place to provide expertise and support for integration, development, and maintenance.
Is this a place where you can promote best practices and standards across the organization.
Once you have a self service integration platform in place. You need some guidelines and rails to ensure. That you are creating. Sustainable integrations that can stand the test of time.
The final phase would be to develop an integration marketplace.
An integration marketplace is a place where business users can discover. Share and reuse integrations across the organization. They should be supported by the self service integration platform. And the centre excellence.
Business users. Could be tech savvy. Individuals who want to create a report? It could be someone who wants to use a low code. Platform to create. A new tool. It could also be. Other consultancies. Other projects. Requiring data from the enterprise.
Moving on. We would have to look into implementing real-time analytics. The next step would be to implement real time analytics and monitoring of integration performance and enabling the organization to quickly identify and resolve integration issues. And improve the overall integration, quality and reliability.
Once we reach a certain level of integration. If people can't trust, what's been put in place. They will go back to the old ways. Of shadow it. And they will create their own integrations. Not using. The shared tool put in place.
Continuous improvement. Is also important. You need to continuously refine and improve the integration platform. The integration processes. And this has to be done based on feedback from stakeholders and customers. You need ongoing monitoring and analysis of integration performance.
By the end of phase three. You should have a fully functional self service integration platform in place with robust API management capabilities. Real time analytics on the thriving integration community. Enabling you to respond quickly to changing business needs and deliver innovative solutions to customers.
This is all well and good, but how do we know? That we've reached a certain level of maturity.
It is therefore wise to measure the outcomes so that you can make adjustments if needed during the phases. Measuring the success of a strategic approach to enterprise application integration, API management, and event driven architecture. Can be done using a combination of quantitative and qualitative metrics.
I'll give you some potential measures of success for each of the phases in the plan.
One can look at the number of integrations implemented. This is to measure the number of integrations that have been implemented on the new integration platform during the first year. And compare this to the number of integrations that were implemented in the previous year. This will help you assess the pace of integration development and the effectiveness of the new platform and teams involved.
Integration quality is also important. You need to assess the quality of integrations that have been implemented in terms of data accuracy. Reliability and performance. Use automated testing and monitoring tools to track key metrics such as error rates. Response times. And throughput.
Perhaps even more importantly, If you're doing this correctly. Is to not only measure. Error rates. But measure the time to recover from errors.
If you have automated testing. You should also be looking at automated. Deployment. And continuous deployment.
And if you have this in place and it's done correctly, you will see. That your rate of recovery. Is a lot higher than it used to be.
Finally user satisfaction.
Surveying the users who are involved in integration development, or use the integrations themselves to gather feedback. On the experience of the new platform. Use this feedback to identify areas for improvement and refine. The integration platform, the integration strategy. On the available. Resources accordingly.
Now users will sometimes be internal users of the platform. For some organizations, it will be external users.
One way of testing out the success of your API is. And to raise awareness of the API is to run internal. Hackathons. A short and easy way to do this. Is to invite people to come and create new applications, new user experiences. On a set of APIs that you decide on.
And just have fun with the API APIs.
This is a way to promote a market. The API is internally. One can also do this externally. But I would suggest you first do it internally. To iron out all the rough edges.
The next thing you should measure is the self service adoption. You should measure the number of self service integrations that have been created using the new. Self service integration capability you have put in place.
If you compare this to the number of integrations that were created by IT in the previous year. This will help you assess the effectiveness of the new capability and the level of adoption.
As part of the integration strategy, you should make it abundantly clear. That all integration going forward. It's to be done by the integration team.
This is to say, whenever you need to move data, you used the tool put in place.
And it's up to you to ensure that the tool. Isn't frowned upon. The tool should be there to help. The tool should be put in place in such a way. That people regard it. As a faster, safer, and better way to get that data. You must ensure that the tool isn't seen as something that is slow and fragile.
The next thing to measure is time to market. You mentioned the time it takes to develop and deploy new integrations using the new platform and the self service integration capability. You compare this to the time it took to develop and deploy integrations in the previous year. This will help you assess the agility and speed that the new platform provides.
You should now have reached. A high level of maturity. And it's time to look at community participation.
You measure the level of participation in the integration community, including the number of users who are actively contributing to the community and sharing best practices. This will help assess the effectiveness of the community and the level of engagement among users. The community doesn't have to be external. It could be your internal developers within the organization.
If you have an API management strategy in place as part of your integration strategy. You can measure integration, marketplace usage.
You'll be able to assess the level of usage of the integrations and APIs, including the number of integrations that have been shared and reused and the level of user satisfaction. This will help you identify opportunities to improve efficiency and collaboration.
Modern API management tools. We'll have features. Support feedback. And ratings of integrations and API.
Finally, you should assess the overall business impact of the new integration platform. Including its contribution to improve operational efficiency. Better customer experiences and faster time to market for new products and services.
Overall measuring the success of the plan requires a focus on both quantitative and qualitative. Metrics that reflect the goals and objectives of the organization.
By tracking these metrics over time, you can continually refine and improve. Your enterprise application integration. API management. And event driven architecture capabilities to meet the changing needs of the business.
One thing is to hire a consultancy to implement.
However, there are certain tasks that the organization should perform as well.
So let's dig into those. Successfully adopting and supporting the plan to implement a strategic approach to enterprise application. Requires several key elements. I'll give you some considerations.
You need strong leadership support. It's critical that senior leaders within the organization fully support the plan. Communicate it's importance to the rest of the organization and provide the necessary resources to ensure its success.
You need skilled personnel. To implement the plan. You need personnel with expertise in integration.
You may need to hire additional staff or train existing staff to acquire these skills.
And it's important that you invest. In upskilling resources. I also highly recommend. That you employee.
Some internal resources or promote some existing resources to work with integration. Integration is too important. To be fully outsourced. You need to have control of your data. It's your data.
You also need robust. Infrastructure. You need to invest in a reliable and scalable infrastructure to support your integration efforts. This includes hardware software. And a focus on networking.
Over the years. One thing that's become clear to me is that when something stops working, everyone points at the integration team. It's not necessarily the integration team's fault. But we can usually pinpoint. Whose fault it is. We are the man in the middle. So to speak.
I can't stress the importance of governance enough. You have to establish clear policies and procedures around the development. Testing. Deployment and management of integration. And API. This includes establishing standards for data security, access control. Standards for messages. And integration testing.
Many times testing is an after thought. This does not work. You have to have a focus on automated the testing for integration.
All your interfaces. External and internal, they need to have contracts associated with them.
This is a contract between your consumer. And your provider. That defines the data. If you have a contract in place, it's easier to test. If you have a contract in place and something breaks. And the contract didn't change. It's easier to fix. If you changed the contract, you know, you have to notify someone.
So contracts will save you a lot of headache in the future.
Continuous improvement is also important. The business has to be committed to continuous improvement. You need to review and refine. Your integration strategy, your integration tools, your integration. Deployments.
There needs to be a budget to go back and fix integrations already in place.
Over time, you will have lessons learned. You will change your best practices.
And you will need to make changes to ensure that you have a sustainable integration platform.
By addressing these key factors you can successfully adopt and support a plan for enterprise application integration.
You will be able to realize the benefits of improved operational efficiency. Better customer experience and faster time to market for new products and services.
This should be. Enough information for the headlines of how to do a workshop, the headlines on what an integration strategy could be. The headlines of what you need to ask. From your sponsors.
A possible next step is to ask us in Avella for a workshop. And ask to see our methodology and frameworks.
You could also go and read some of our client references. And Norway, there is a large dairy, which is called TINE. That's T I N E.
TINE is one of our references. We have an article. Which you can find. Through Google. In Norwegian, which is in a Norwegian. Online magazine called Digi dot no.
There is also an English reference between Avella and TINE. Where IBM has published a case study.
I would recommend reading. At least one of them.
So perhaps you're a Microsoft BizTalk customer. Considering moving to the cloud. Or perhaps you're a Microsoft BizTalk customer considering a different platform. Did you know that you can use Microsoft Azure credits towards Software AGs API management and integration platform as a service. webmethods.io.
Avella is a partner of Software AG and we have many references on that platform.
Or, perhaps event driven architecture is something you want to start off with. Then I would highly recommend looking into IBM's cloud pack for integration. This could be a good fit. IBM can run on anything on any cloud. any data center. And still be fully supported. Currently, they have their integration platform as a service and API solution as a service on AWS.
Or, you could take the cloud pack. And install it wherever you see fit.
With IBM. You can start with either messaging. Or an API management solution. Or even Kafka.
IBM calls Kafka IBM event streams it is based on Apache Kafka project. It's roughly two to three weeks behind. The open source project. And IBM has added a lot of day one. enterpries functionality that you need to manage. Your Kafka solution in production.
There are a wide variety of choices and it comes down to today's requirements and the ability of the vendor to follow market trends in the future.
In Avella, I have also created. A list of questions that you can use in an RFP process. To figure out which vendor, is the right fit for you.
I've mentioned software ag, webMethods, and IBM as two potential candidates. There are more in the marketplace.
And, it's not up to me to decide. What's the best fit for you?
At times when we do an integration assessment with a customer. We don't necessarily end up recommending one of our partners. It's not right for everybody to use an enterprise integration platform.
But when it is. Then.
I will recommend one of our two partners, which is IBMand Software AG they have been in the marketplace for integration. For at least two decades. And they are not tied to a specific ERP or CRM vendor. Which means they have to play nice with everyone when it comes to integration. And that's what it's about moving data between everyone or anything.
Again, thank you for listening. And I hope you liked this podcast. I would appreciate. A subscribe or a comment to the podcast. And I hope that you will listen. And again, in a couple of weeks time, Until then. Happy integrating.