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May 25, 2020
3 min read

How a Hybrid Integration Platform Can Drive Innovation

Photo by Ramón Salinero on Unsplash

Hybrid integration platforms (HIPs) speed integrations between cloud and on-premises systems, lower development costs, and support the adoption of new technologies.

The problem(s)

Digital transformation, and the transition to the cloud, often highlight exponential improvements to compelling sources of growth such as agility, profitability, and new revenue streams. However, a number of reasons can block an enterprise from moving to a complete cloud solution. These include the need to adhere to data laws (where regulations and policies prevent companies from moving all their data into the cloud), the necessity to shift existing systems via a phased approach in order to mitigate the sudden impact on a business, and non-functional requirements such as security and performance. 

Moreover, the increasing complexity of integrating on-premises systems with cloud offerings—which include software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, vast amounts of data, and an explosion of APIs—can overwhelm integration architects and developers. In this new norm, connecting and standardizing an organization’s data and business processes, across its entire application landscape, places a significant strain on traditional technologies, methods, and abilities. 

A HIP provides the best approach to accelerate technology changes, drive cloud adoption, and modernize integrations.

Consider these examples from a multinational athletic shoe manufacturer’s digital endeavors. The company provides sneaker aficionados mobile access to the brand’s premium sneaker lines via an app, which enables users to set notifications for upcoming releases and track order statuses. For context, the brand’s limited-edition shoes generate such demand that they tend to sell out instantly—making it crucial to have digital channels that can scale to bolster surging customer volumes. Also, owing to recent IoT initiatives, i.e., information retrieved from sensors in running shoes and smartwatches, integration teams now have to deal with a massive increase in data from thousands of endpoints. 

“In most cases, the traditional integration toolkit, a set of task-specific integration tools, is unable to address this level of complexity,” reveals this oft-quoted ‘Smarter with Gartner’ article. “Organizations need to move toward what Gartner calls a hybrid integration platform or HIP. The HIP is the ‘home’ for all functionalities that ensure the smooth integration of multiple digital transformation initiatives in an organization.”

What is a Hybrid Integration Platform?

Stated simply, hybrid integration is the exchange of information exchange between multiple applications that are on-premises and in the cloud; a HIP should easily and seamlessly integrate these applications to deliver business functionality. Ideally, it should also provide support for standard and proprietary protocols with minimum configuration.

Forrester describes HIPs as, “Technologies that simplify and reduce the cost of the development, testing, deployment, and maintenance of application and data interfaces.” Now, more than ever, HIPs are key to the success and the survival of an enterprise. Based on a recent study by Research and Markets, spending on hybrid integration platforms is expected to grow to $33.6 billion in 2022 from $17.14 billion in 2017, which is a CAGR of 14.4%. And, by 2022, Gartner expects 65% of large organizations to implement HIPs to power digital transformation efforts.

What are the benefits?

These platforms reduce development costs and speed integrating cloud and on-premises systems by providing the following.

  • A simplified development experience with built-in capabilities.
  • Secure communication between cloud and on-premises applications.
  • Well-designed SaaS application connectors and reusable integration templates for commonly used customer use cases.
  • The ability to seamlessly integrate on-premises systems with business partner systems, mobile applications, IoT devices, and SaaS applications. This eliminates the need to implement complicated integration scenarios from scratch. Companies can reuse platform-provided functionality to speed integration and reduce maintenance efforts.
  • Faster data integrations by breaking data silos.
  • Managed APIs to expose an organization’s data with security and access controls to rapidly build their digital platforms.
  • Managed cloud offerings that cater to an organization’s business requirements.

What should you look for when evaluating one?

Choosing the right HIP can be challenging; here are some of the most important capabilities to seek out. Follow the link to read a more comprehensive list.

  • Application and Data Integration. One of the key aspects of a HIP is the ability to integrate different applications and data formats and standards to deliver business functionality. IDC expects 49% of the world’s stored data to reside in public cloud environments by 2025. The HIP should provide capabilities such as content-based routing, message transformation, and support for standard and well-known proprietary protocols. Moreover, the platform should be capable of handling data at rest and in transit, in the cloud, and on-premises.
  • Full API Lifecycle Management. APIs are key to modern integration requirements. An enterprise should select a full lifecycle API management solution that works well with middleware solutions. This will empower an organization to publish, promote, version, and secure APIs, as well as manage their usage. As noted in this Forbes post, enterprises with advanced API management processes experience up to 47% better business results as compared to enterprises with basic API management.
  • Cloud-Native Capabilities. Many organizations are moving to the cloud to lower staffing and infrastructure costs and to reap the benefits of cloud computing. However, to truly benefit from this, the selected integration platform should be lean and lightweight. Also, many integration solutions need additional support for deployment automation, scaling, containerized applications, and CI/CD workflows.
  • Managed File Transfer Capabilities. Managed file transfer (MFT) refers to a secure and efficient transfer of data from one system to another. This can be between cloud, on-premises, or cloud and on-premises instances. MFT solutions can take the form of on-premises software as well as SaaS solutions. Having this capability within the HIP eliminates the added cost brought on by integrating a separate tool.

More importantly, an enterprise should select a vendor that is completely aligned with the company’s digital strategy and will support its execution. One key aspect that is often overlooked is the strength of the vendor’s partner network and the quality of its consultants and supporting services. These aspects play a vital role throughout the lifespan of a project, from inception to maintaining the system once it goes live.

Make the change today

The cloud and a host of related technologies, which now underlies much of the internet, have enabled modern enterprises to leverage enhanced computing capabilities and break data silos, is a key driver for digital transformation. Almost every organization is in a hybrid state—with multiple back-end systems, repositories, siloes, workloads in the cloud, and on-premises operations—and the push for higher productivity continues to drive innovation. To fully realize all the competitive advantages, integration leaders should strategically implement the right HIP to ensure success.

Learn more

A great way to learn more about the core capabilities is to watch An API-Centric Hybrid Integration Platform for Microservices or ESB Style Architecture. Also, make sure to read The Top 10 Things to Look for in a Hybrid Integration Platform. You can find even more information by visiting our product page for WSO2 Enterprise Integrator.

We also offer a number of opportunities to connect with our experts—wherever you are in the world. Sign up for our virtual events or get in touch with us here.