There’s no doubt that an application becomes exponentially more valuable as the number of data sources it connects to increases. The challenge is managing that process. While the rise of application programming interfaces that make it simpler to invoke another application has dramatically increased the usefulness of application software, trying to manually manage that process via a series of point-to-point connections winds up being overly cumbersome.
For those reasons middleware vendors such as Informatica are now making the case for not only leveraging frameworks to manage APIs, but also the convergence of the management of actually transferring data between applications. According to Juan Carlos Soto, senior vice president and general manager for the Data Integration Product Division at Informatica, the company is trying to get developers to standardize on a platform that automates most of the manual tasks associated with application integration, an effort that Informatica refers to as “Informatica Inside.”
While there are plenty of platforms available for managing APIs, the management of data transfers across applications is overly complex. Start to scale that process across hundreds of applications and it soon balloons beyond the scope of what the average application development team can cope with. Add in the fact that no one knows when they might be asked to integrate one application with another and it becomes pretty apparent that a more systematic approach to the problem is required.
Soto says what’s really going to be needed are cloud service brokers that abstract all the tasks associated with data integration and API management. Accomplishing that goal means embedding hooks to Informatica middleware in the cloud directly in the application, says Soto.
Of course, all this integration represents a double-edged sword for developers. The easier it becomes to integrate an application, the lower the switching costs associated with replacing one application with another become. None of that is lost on enterprise IT organizations that are implementing cloud service brokers with that that specific goal in mind. In fact, Soto says Informatica plans to create templates for integrating popular sets of applications, which should not only reduce integration costs but also encourage customers to acquire certain sets of pre-integrated applications.
There’s a lot of interest these days in unlocking the true value of our application software. The only way to accomplish that goal is by eliminating the walls that serve to isolate one application from another. There is no shortage of ways to accomplish that goal, which means that use cases will ultimately determine what approach is better than another.
But what is clear is that days of thinking about application integration as an activity that takes place after the application is deployed are coming to an end. The expectation going forward is that all the mechanisms needed to integrate an application with any other application are going to be readily available inside the application. That’s powerful set of capabilities that unfortunately have been a long time in coming. But now that it’s here it’s also a set of capabilities that developers can no longer afford to ignore either.