In part I, we talked about technology drivers pointing to agile integration; how it puts enterprises on a faster track to deliver services and set up new models – without having to rip or replace anything. However, agile integration is less about making technical & functional changes and more about structuring people, processes, and technologies in the right way -- for executing innovative ideas without being restrained by legacy issues.
Success with agile integration depends upon the ability to change and sustain this change. Therefore, enterprises should be able to plan technology changes in much shorter cycles and quickly execute those changes in their ecosystem. A multi-year infrastructure plan can strangle an enterprises' ability to respond to constantly changing business or technology shifts. On the contrary, modular IT services and shorter plans for change initiatives help in dealing with jarring changes in an agile manner. Enterprises can do this successfully with these three pillars for agile integration:
Enterprises need to be able to connect information systems from across the IT set up. Static & centralized integration hubs or Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) frameworks can be too rigid for rapid changes. Therefore, distributed integration capabilities are required to do this smoothly. Such capabilities i.e., alerting, transformation, routing or parsing, etc. deliver better flexibility than centralized integration. Integrations independent of other integration touch points can be managed smoothly and scaled efficiently.
Containers abstract the operational IT environment from physical setup and enable teams to stack more instances on hardware for speeding up deployment. Executable packages or containers help in defining a single operational environment for running different applications. They make the environment consistent for each instance and simplifies the deployment. In this way, the deployment becomes frictionless and rapid.
Medium to large organizations have thousands of applications which don't converse nicely with each other. They use the API interfaces to connect these applications and expose services to internal and external teams. These APIs proliferate and reach a tipping point from where they become difficult to manage. Smart companies use API management capabilities to avoid this tipping point. They get access to capabilities for integrating hybrid applications in an ecosystem and creating new and innovative services. Seamless API management ensures uniformity and consistency across all touchpoints.
Agile integration infrastructure works differently than other integration models. It works best when enterprises ensure greater reuse and self-service capabilities in the framework.
The availability of Distribution Integration Controls, Containers, and API Management controls provide a future-ready foundation to the ecosystem. Teams can build flows for external integrations with help of reusable endpoints. They can enable transformations and compositions as per inline business logic. Intelligent layering helps in monitoring all systems and further aggregating them for end users.
All pieces of technologies can be decomposed into cohesive components with better API abstraction. Teams can recast the architecture for dealing with high-volume inbound requests and accommodating technology or business shifts.
The biggest barrier to the adoption of agile integration architecture is inertia. It is a cultural change and enterprises should work together to help reshape the infrastructure. Sweeping organization-wide changes can do more harm than good. Teams should implement changes gradually in isolation before rolling them out. Small changes in phases for specific business areas can help the enterprise in setting up a long-term strategic goal and driving productivity.