Software Integration — The Triumphs, Challenges, and Best Practices

Avato July 24, 2019
Triumphs of Software Integration

Looking up from your morning coffee, you see the VP of Sales walking toward you. She’s always so friendly and talkative, but today she means business. She wants to integrate SalesForce with your company’s existing software and she’s wondering how long it will take. Her business case sounds completely logical, but you tell her you’ll need some time to figure it out before you commit to anything. 

Almost the instant she walks away, the panic starts to set in. You realize this is a non-trivial technical lift that will require a lot of costly cycles from your team, taking them away from other important duties. Panic switches to dread as you start to think about what it will take to integrate another application with your aging technology stack. You know if you nail this mission, the sales team will think you walk on water. All you have to do now is find a way to make it happen. 

The above scenario is by no means rare. Application-to-application integration is something that most organizations will be tasked with sooner or later. But it’s not always a simple fix to integrate with an existing enterprise system. Well past the day you launch your integration, you’ll be bug-fixing, updating, and patching. And let’s face it— it’s not SalesForce, it’s you. Or at least, it’s your company’s clunky old software suite. So why bother integrating in the first place? 

Why Integrate?

Gone are the days where a single monolithic application can meet the needs of your business. It’s simply not possible for just one application to provide best-in-class tools for all business areas. 

No single enterprise system can be expected to have better CRM than SalesForce, or better social than Facebook, or better talent sourcing tools than LinkedIn. A collection of applications is really the only solution if a business is to have best-in-class business software.

The Traditional Approach: Point-to-Point Integration

The idea behind point-to-point integration is simple. You need data from one system accessible by another, so you set about the task of connecting the systems. Simple right? Moving data from A to B. But then the next request comes in — to connect C to D. Then it turns out data from A needs to also move to D. Before long, you’re compromising your own desire for simplicity and elegance and accepting that the whole thing is a mix of complicated, interconnected “spaghetti connectivity.”  

During a point-to-point integration, it’s important to plan carefully around how each system works. You have to ensure the process is well-documented to reduce response time for any complications that may arise. Another best practice: keep a point-to-point integration as simple as possible — too many connectors can get complex, quickly.

Point-to-Point Integration: The Challenges

As mentioned above, a point-to-point integration can get exponentially more complex as more connectors are added. Imagine one of your systems becomes incompatible with your connector model, through a security patch, for example. Until the connectors linking that system to your infrastructure’s other components get fixed — your entire network is down. 

Or when one tightly-coupled component of your infrastructure needs replacing, every connector linking to it has to be refactored in order to work in the new system. When you take into account development cycles, testing, and deployment, the workload begins to crest well beyond the realm of tedious. A “patch fix” here and a “patch fix” there, and suddenly IT teams are spending far too much time navigating a complex integration environment. Your “workarounds” prevent you from being as agile and productive as you could be.

Enter the New Best Practices Approach: a Hybrid Integration Platform

The above challenges and requirements are not going away. And replacing a legacy software solution is cost-prohibitive, not to mention time-consuming and fraught with risk. A hybrid integration platform (HIP) can help to bridge the gap between your current software, and the integrations you crave, by creating a middleware layer. 

HIPs help to bridge applications together and help them communicate with each other. Rather than requiring a series of disparate fixes to integrate with another program, you can have a single place to address compatibility issues for all connected applications. 

A HIP can also be architected for scalability and designed to distribute load over an unlimited number of servers. This way you can ensure the speed of the system and continuity of service. What’s more, future integrations are made easier. Using a HIP solution, you can still integrate with the latest software tools, while you make plans for the complete replacement of your legacy software systems. 

Your Software Integration Triumph

Fear not — you no longer have to cobble together a messy, hard-to-maintain integration every time your company wants to use the latest tools. You can confidently tell that cheery VP of Sales exactly how long your roadmap to integrating SalesForce will be. 

For good measure, you can tell her you’ll tie in with LinkedIn as well, and that you’ll soon be supporting three other enterprise apps your team has been craving. Try to remain humble when they start calling you things like “genius” and “savior.” 

Staying on Top of the Automation Trend

As automation technology continues to advance, system integrations are becoming the norm. For a business to run processes efficiently from end-to-end – without their users needing to switch between applications – an integrated system is necessary. Not only do integrated systems streamline processes, but they also increase security by hiding open-ended data stores and applications behind restrictive APIs and reduce because they’re easier to monitor from a central hub.

Enterprise leaders already recognize that fully-connected systems and data are indispensable to successful digital transformation. A hybrid integration platform provides businesses with a robust technology foundation. Now you can securely and quickly integrate fragmented and otherwise incompatible systems. More importantly, you can keep pace with the rate of change — responding to technology trends in a timely fashion without compromise. 

Want to learn more about how a hybrid integration platform can help you with your software integration needs? Book a demo today.

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