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5 Things You Need to Know Before Your Data and Application Integration Project

Data and application integration has never been more critical to an organization’s IT environment. The expectation for on-demand access to data, information, services, and products has become the norm in today’s society. Even beyond the “on-demand” expectation, organizations need an IT environment that will not interfere with their business objectives.  

Consider the modern IT environment, often consisting of various legacy systems, microservices, databases, and applications—some of these technologies are managed on-premises and some in the cloud. These various technologies often do not natively communicate with each other. The age-old challenge with data silos persists, and is increasingly more difficult to manage in the modern IT environment.

A data and application integration strategy is key to building the connectivity necessary to overcoming and managing a disparate, complex, and resource-intensive IT ecosystem. Connectivity is imperative in today’s environment, which is why more and more businesses are turning to integration to improve and enhance how they operate.

If you have come to the same conclusion as many in the IT world, then the question now is, “What is the most time and cost-efficient method of integration for my environment?” Visualizing your end game is an important part of this process. What you want to happen and when you want it to happen will largely influence your direction. Whether you build out or buy your integration, it is crucial to identify what is involved every step of the way. With all of the projects you may have in motion, having a full understanding of your integration options will save you a great deal of time and money.

Five Key Considerations for Your Integration Project

No matter if you choose to build or buy your data integration, you must first consider these five key things for your integration project:

  1. The Connector - Crucial to connectivity, “the connector” connects to a service and exposes its API. The integration build starts with the connector. Compared to those who build an integration, those who buy an integration are more encouraged by the low upfront cost required to build the connector. For the buyer, the connector is an asset that does take a specific amount of time to produce, yet continues to add value to the system beyond the production time. Generally, buyers consider the connector to be an asset that takes a finite amount to produce and over time adds value to the system.
  2. The Mapping Layer - In order to move data from one system to another, database fields need to be mapped, matched, manipulated, and checked. This challenge increases by not only the large number of required fields, but also the custom objects and picklists. In addition, many systems will return lookup fields that need to be resolved dynamically prior to moving the data into that system.
  3. Authentication - In a majority of SaaS applications, there are authentication standards like oAuth or OpenID, Key or Tokens. These authentication standards simplify authentication and improves security. The standards also creates an added challenge as the access tokens are now issued for varying lengths of time and need to be securely refreshed and maintained. Authentication generally extends beyond the initial scope of a project, and can quickly add more time and complexity to an integration project.  
  4. Polling vs. Webhook vs. Stream - With three access mechanisms, REST is a widespread application-level access protocol. In one polling mechanism, it keeps track of the last poll, retrieving only new data. There are different ID mechanisms with each service, with different date formats, and all must be accounted for. With Webhooks, there is a different architecture that is required to secure, receive, register, and deregister endpoints. Streaming requires maintaining open streams to receive new data. Implementing such protocols on a development box is possible, but can cause significant challenges at scale.
  5. Maintenance and Rules - When SaaS systems are updated there are cascading effects on its API. Because most services lack a versioned API, the fixed cost of the integration connector from step one will require constant updates and changes. Consider the Salesforce API. There were 228 changes in the last two years. While APIs have simplified access as it relates to surface connectivity, the complexity has transitioned to success and error codes and fulfilment rules. These factors have to be incorporated to respect rules of engagement across multiple APIs.

Summary

Taking on an application integration project does not have to be complicated, difficult, or resource-intensive. Technical resources, partners with expertise, and continuous connectivity monitoring and management will all play a crucial role when it comes to completing a successful integration project. Additionally, an integration platform as a service (iPaaS) solution can help you overcome many common integration challenges that businesses face today. With iPaaS, an organization can take advantage of the following capabilities:

  • Rapid integrations – Connect to applications within minutes, while also being able to deploy complex integrations in as little as 2 weeks
  • Break down stifling data silos – A centralized dashboard to govern software, improve security, reliability, and transparency, while breaking down silos between teams, systems, and applications
  • Empower users – An iPaaS solution can offer a no-code interface that can empower users to manage their integration needs, while freeing up IT resources 
  • Scalability, reliability, and security – Code and application updates are not a worry with an iPaaS solution because connectivity is seamless and simple with more options for iPaaS connectors

Simplify Your Integration Project with Kenetix

Delivering an on-demand, reliable integration experience is the core competency of Kenetix, Globalscape’s integration platform as a service (iPaaS). Kenetix provides pre-built connectors to hundreds of SaaS apps, empowering you to build integrations tailored to your specific business needs. Some of our top connectors support your data integration needs from enterprise, sales, productivity, email/marketing IT, collaboration, and more.