Futurecast: What 2014 Holds for Application Integration

by Ronald Nunan on December 27, 2013

In the past, enterprise application integration (EAI) was a strictly app-to-app affair. Businesses would devise ways to integrate whatever applications they were already using with an eye toward better efficiency among disparate business units.

But EAI is changing, with a more infrastructure-based, data-centric approach emerging. What does that mean for enterprise? While it’s impossible to be certain, the emphases on both data and the potential of holistic, “total integration” – not to mention the rising, yet still nascent, enterprise cloud – point to a number of EAI trends we can expect to play out in 2014.

What are those trends, exactly? Let’s consider three of the most relevant:

More cloud integration

By now, you’re probably aware of the cloud computing “revolution,” its effects on business and commerce, and how it influences the information economy. The cloud is where many millions of gigabits of corporate data are going to live – and that’s why 2014 will see more cloud integration projects among firms of all sizes.

“API” (application programming interface) will become a bigger buzzword. Solution vendors and third party service providers will devise more, higher-quality APIs; others will create their own and make them public. Cloud integration won’t just be “popular” in 2014 as it was in 2013 – for many organizations, it will be a competitive imperative.

Of course, more cloud integration also means increased cloud enablement projects among organizations dependent on mainframe data. As businesses become increasingly reliant on the cloud, they will eventually find more viable reasons to expose their data, including what’s on the mainframe, to it.

Data silo destruction

Already a common end-goal for organizations pursuing cloud integration, the desire to destroy data silos will become even more widespread – especially when organizations see their competitors using data in newer, more efficient ways.

Simply put, EAI projects will begin doing more than make Application A “work better” with Application B. Integrations will make data more available to business units that were unable to reliably share it in the past.

This kind of arrangement is what many organizations mean when they talk about “total integration.” Business systems and applications work in harmony with one another. The much-maligned data silo becomes a thing of the past. Few to zero hang-ups among applications stall productivity, and data often serves as a bridge to connect departments.

More available data will, presumably, offer insights leading to greater scalability and long-term growth. In 2014, many organizations pursuing EAI will list data insight potential as a primary project goal. 

Hadoop

As the emphasis on big data grows, so will the popularity of this open-source platform that makes it easier for companies to examine and understand the data they’re collecting.

However, companies merging Hadoop with other applications and processes should pursue the integration cautiously. While approaching Hadoop as part of a larger, total integration initiative can help organizations use data in more innovative, meaningful ways, Hadoop also has the potential to create yet another data silo.

Firms can avoid that outcome by aligning Hadoop with other analytics and/or data management systems they use. Doing so should be a key part of any EAI efforts involving Hadoop.

Whatever the case, it’s impossible to know the extent to which these trends will transpire. But as progressive companies are already pursuing such integration initiatives, it would be wise to pay attention to their results.

If they’re successful – and with a smart approach, they can be – the outcomes may presage future EAI currents across the corporate spectrum.

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