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07.01.2020

Hybrid Integration Platform: How to Keep Your IT Architecture Under Control

The smart and flexible integration of IT constellations is what makes the implementation of digitalization strategies possible. Only then can companies efficiently utilize the new possibilities in IoT, in connecting customers, partners and suppliers, and in e-commerce or artificial intelligence.  

Spurred on by hypes and trends and the supposed efficiency potential, the speed of digitalization is increasing. As new systems supplement existing IT architectures, the constellations are becoming hybrid: systems now operate in the cloud, on-premises and of course still often as legacy systems, on which companies continue to depend. But companies want to digitalize fast and integrate flexibly and safely – no matter what and with whom.  

Only if companies manage to react to changes in the market flexibly and quickly will they be able to offer new business models in due time, better serve customers and partners and develop new sales opportunities. To this end, internal applications must also be created quickly and integrated with the existing IT landscape, for example.  

Gartner demands that so-called "Hybrid Integration Platforms" (HIP) enable people from many different sectors (IT specialists, ad-hoc developers, citizen developers) to operate the platform and allow the smart interconnection of all systems, whether cloud-based or on-premises, while integrating them into the existing IT constellation.

Challenges of IoT integration

Many companies have an ESB for tackling standard integration tasks. IoT requires a hybrid and flexible architecture that can transmit data from sensors and devices to back-end systems directly or in aggregated form, however. All integrations must be made available to internal departments and external customers via an API layer, so as to use the data via mobile or user-defined applications. The option of running microservices in-memory in order to ensure high performance and scalability is especially in high demand. One application example is automatic test plans in production for reducing manual tests. The implementation of such solutions, including the connection of all necessary systems, often involves the acquisition of new systems or integration platforms, and thwarts current efforts to design the IT constellation as homogeneously as possible. Major ERP providers are currently pursuing the strategy of going back to the core system. And platforms equally exist for complex integration tasks, supporting companies in ALL their integration tasks.

The challenge of application development (aPaaS)

"The focus here lies on what is now called 'experience'. The aim is to greatly improve the customer's experience when dealing with the products or services and when dealing with the company itself. The company software forms the technological basis for these digital change processes. As we say: "Business applications run the digital business."

This is where the low-code platforms come in. They seek to greatly simplify and accelerate the development of digital business applications. The platforms generally achieve this goal with a business logic (user interface, business processes, data, etc.) based not on conventional programming languages (coding) but on graphic user interfaces (drag and drop). These graphically created models (meta data) then automatically generate the corresponding program code in the background. The point is to entrust employees in the company with software engineering even if they do not belong to central IT and therefore are not software engineering experts per se, but rather technology-savvy employees from the other departments – so-called citizen developers." Dr. Wolfram Jost, CPO Scheer GmbH

Here too integration is an essential factor. During the digitalization of processes and applications, data must be sent from systems. Ideally, the integration platforms should allow ensuring synchronous and/or asynchronous transmissions.

One possible scenario is the "product-to-market" process.

In the development of new products, interdepartmental, corporation-wide cooperation for a short time to market becomes increasingly important. At the same time, the market doesn't offer a comprehensive IT solution. The solution is the mapping and execution of the entire process by means of a platform in connection with different systems in the back end. In addition, parallel execution of work packages of different organizational units must be ensured. The advantages are obvious. Thanks to the shortened time to market, companies can generate sales faster and explore new markets. Since applications and processes can be developed and adapted in a more agile and faster way, the company will be positioned securely and flexibly on the market.