Like the beautiful patina on an old bronze coin — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patina — integration is a respectful legacy that continues to add value to the modern fortunes of IT, including Cloud computing.
No, integration isn’t cool – as it was 10 years go – but it still rocks. Without it even cloud computing – IT’s latest darling – is just another set of IT “stove pipes”, reminiscent of the Circa mid-1990’s “stove pipes” of internal applications that took us a decade to integrate.
A few weeks ago Google announced enhancements to its Google App Engine (GAE), which included its new Secure Data Connector to integrate its cloud-based stove-pipes, with those in your data center – see Google App Engine Comes Closer to Enterprise Adoption. This week IBM and Hubspan announced WebSpan (I’d suggested “HubSphere”, but – hey – I only do marketing as a hobby) – an integration services offering using integration as a service (IaaS) that links stove-pipes of on-premise applications with trading partners and cloud-based functionality (my analysis of that should be published next week).
Interesting that for both IT mega-vendors these announcements were part of larger PR initiatives, GAE enhancements overall for Google, and one of many partnerships for IBM announced at its IMPACT event. By itself that makes my point. Integration isn’t the goal – it’s an IT pinch-hitter, an enabler for higher-order IT objectives like process improvement or cost containment.
A large retailer with 4,500 suppliers recently asked whether they should integrate their suppliers in-house or outsource the project; either way the goal is to automate then later improve the procurement process. A small biometric solutions company recently installed a packaged integrating process to synchronize sales orders between Salesforce.com and Quickbooks to lower costs and improve customer service (I’m publishing a case study on this). In both cases integration itself wasn’t the goal – it’s a means to an end. Context, not core. It adds value – like a beautiful patina on the coin of IT.