How would it feel if all your technology JUST WORKED? If data flowed from application to application without friction? If the reality of connected technology lived up to the promise? Would it move your business' bottom line?
How would it feel if all your technology JUST WORKED? If data flowed from application to application without friction? If the reality of connected technology lived up to the promise? Would it move your business' bottom line?
This is what successful integration achieves. And IntegrationWorks delivers successful integrations, time after time. We create simplicity out of complexity, integrating diverse systems and applications into unified, coherent infrastructures. Flexible. Scalable. Future-proof. Solutions that keep you ahead of the digital transformation curve.
We leverage the latest open standards, practices and frameworks for integration in our design and...READ MORE
We leverage the latest open standards, practices and frameworks for integration in our design and architecture, to ensure you achieve maximum interoperability in your solutions.
Our methodology for delivery has won global awards, and we are able to deliver our services for small agile projects, or large complex multi-year engagements without embedding full-time resources into your team. We deliver only what you need, when you need it.
At IntegrationWorks we specialise in Service Oriented Integration, and our tools and techniques are based...READ MORE
At IntegrationWorks we specialise in Service Oriented Integration, and our tools and techniques are based around the use of open standards and frameworks. This ensures your services are interoperable with internal and external consumers, without the overhead of having to directly manage the standards and patterns. Our pragmatic use of Microservices, or SOA ensures that you realise the benefits of the implementation in your business, not just your list of technologies. This is how we ensure our customers do not build new-legacy solutions where the same processes are rebuilt using new technology.
Our practices around integrated coding, release management and deployment are based on our proven experience...READ MORE
Our practices around integrated coding, release management and deployment are based on our proven experience of over 15 years in Continuous Integration / Continuous Deployment (CI/CD). We leverage this method of working to ensure we remove the human element as much as possible from this area of risk. The result is reduced effort and cost, with an increase in agility.
Today, APIs are being used for integration, for service platforms, for innovation and for connectivity....READ MORE
Today, APIs are being used for integration, for service platforms, for innovation and for connectivity. They’re adding value both through direct monetisation and by enhancing core business functions. And of course, they’re creating partnerships and co-operative communities worldwide that are powering movements towards standardisation, as is being seen with Open Banking. Combined with the scalable processing power of the cloud, the data-gathering capabilities of the Internet of Things and machine learning, the uses of APIs are limited only by your imagination. High-performing organisations need their infrastructure development to be aligned with business growth; to be rapidly adaptable to accommodate innovation; while at the same time prioritising ease of use and prospects for monetisation.
Throughout your business, our proven approach to developing API Strategy enables you to:
Most importantly, we help you to develop an API roadmap that covers business, architecture, technology, accelerators and delivery steps.
License and pay for what you really need: no more, no less. IntegrationWorks provides a unique level of...READ MORE
License and pay for what you really need: no more, no less. IntegrationWorks provides a unique level of insight. As well as being world-renowned integration experts, here at IntegrationWorks we’ve developed a bit of a speciality in the licencing side of complex software system interactions. Remaining compliant while successfully planning and optimising your future costs takes experience, vigilance and organisation. Without them, you run the risk on the one hand of fines and reputational damage, on the other of redundancy and overspending. At IntegrationWorks, we help our clients get the best out of their software licence investment.
Our experts can sift through the hundreds – if not thousands – of pages of licence terms your infrastructure is based upon:
And we’ve found that for many organisations, non-compliance risks are frequently accompanied by over-licencing in other areas.
By removing redundancy and by leveraging our long-standing deep relationships with many of the vendors you depend on – such as IBM, Mulesoft, RedHat, Dell Boomi, Apigee and many more - our licencing consultants can often save you money – freeing up resources for investment in front-line capabilities.
Quality assurance is a key part of any integration solution and can be the critical juncture of any...READ MORE
Quality assurance is a key part of any integration solution and can be the critical juncture of any large-scale complex project. Our methods and processes for integration testing and quality assurance, combined with our architectural and development experience ensures we detect, correct and mitigate issues and risks in your projects. Our approach is based on automating our quality assurance processes wherever possible to reduce the cost and effort to rework solutions, while improving the agility and scalability of existing project resources.
One of the hardest things for CTOs and CIOs is making sure their teams stay abreast of and able to engage...READ MORE
One of the hardest things for CTOs and CIOs is making sure their teams stay abreast of and able to engage with the latest developments in technology and innovation.
But when you use IntegrationWorks’ managed services, that problem disappears. And when you’re undergoing major system change, that’s invaluable. Or perhaps you are going through expansion.
Whether it’s a long-term engagement or just a matter of taking off the pressure while you build up internal capabilities, IntegrationWorks’ managed services will slow in easily to your needs.
Whether you need us for software development or live operations or both, we can handle it. Your needs are what matters. Whatever your SLA requirements, IntegrationWorks can deliver.
We work with all technologies. We have an unrivalled depth of experience. And we think differently from other MSPs.
We're vendor agnostic. We're not tied to any software provider. That means we can help you pick, design, deploy and integrate the ideal solution to your unique problems.
A major UK retailer has a large IBM and Oracle software estate. However easy access to software and user controlled deployment had encouraged over usage culminating in a potential exposure due to under licensing.
The UK retailer engaged IntegrationWorks with a view to align their integration software state with purchased licensing.
View the full case study below.
IntegrationWorks provided IBM DataPower Appliances and an Infrastructure design to integrate with their existing network and application infrastructure. In addition, IntegrationWorks provided consulting on service implementation best practices.
See full case study below.
IntegrationWorks provided the client with a full suite of advisory, development and support services to ensure the success of the B2B integration project and to create a standards-based technology agnostic flow of information between their system and initiative providers.
See full case study below.
To combat threats from smaller more agile disruptors, FMG launched Project Optimus, part of a broad digital programme that will transform how FMG's business operates in an increasingly digital and connected world. The plan was to build new capability and address FMG’s requirements to meet its business needs for effective and efficient information distribution.
See full case study below.
We want to help solve your integration solution. Whether they're big or small. Whether you're at the start of the planning phaseor you need urgent action. Even if you want just a fresh pair of eyes and an expert opinion.
Integration architecture can be an intimidating topic to dive into. There is a plethora of different technologies, processes, platforms and patterns advertised to meet your every integration need. So, how do we break out of analysis paralysis and begin on our rewarding journey of integration architecture so we can give the devs something useful to do?
Believe it or not, and feel free not to, I won’t take it personally, there are just three super-patterns, which can model any integration scenario you can think of. Further, these three super-patterns each break down into two sub-patterns, giving us - if my math is correct - six concrete integration patterns.
Before we enumerate the different super-patterns and sub-patterns, we need to talk about data and metadata. The flow of data, metadata or a combination of both, compose each pattern outlined in this article, so it is important to understand the distinction between the two.
Put simply, data is content, metadata is context. The term “meta” implies self-reference. For example, consider an image file. The data is the image itself, the bits and bytes which a photo program will translate to generate a picture. The metadata in this example is data about the data - information about the image such as the size, resolution, encoding format and colour model.
Until today, there was no accepted standard for differentiating between data and metadata in architectural diagrams. This article proposes a new notation to do just this.
A solid circle at the tail of an arrow identifies the flow of data.
With these patterns, it becomes a much simpler task of identification and modelling. Each sub-task maps naturally to technologies that fit the pattern.
2. A hollow circle at the tail of an arrow identifies the flow of metadata.
This notation is compatible with other standards, which deal with the head or shaft of the arrow. For example, we draw an asynchronous flow of data as:
Or a response of metadata as:
** DaMMIT also maps nicely to sequence diagrams and identifies what sort of data is being transferred at each step. **
The first - and arguably the most prevalent - integration super pattern is that of Pull Based Integration. We use the pull-based interaction patterns when a consumer is requesting a response from a single provider. Data or metadata is retrieved without creating a residual obligation.
This super-pattern tends to map to synchronous request-response technologies and processes such as web services and APIs.
Pull-based integration is composed of two sub-patterns: query-response and request-confirm.
The query-response pattern is a query of data held by the provider using metadata to identify or filter the returned data.
The use-cases for this pattern are many and varied. Any GET verb on a RESTful API probably follows this pattern. For example, consider a “Get Account Details” call by a mobile application. The app sends metadata of the account (e.g. the account ID) to the provider which returns the account data (name, address etc.).
The request-confirm pattern is a query of the state of the data held by the provider. The provider returns metadata on the supplied data.
The use-cases for the request-confirm pattern are more nuanced and rarer than that of the query-response pattern. As an example, consider a form-validation service. The consumer would send the completed form to the provider, which would validate the form and return metadata describing its acceptability.
Pushed-based integration is when the provider sends data or metadata to one or more external consumers. The two patterns for providing push-based interaction are: notification and information distribution.
The pushed-based pattern maps best to asynchronous technologies such as event streaming.
A notification is a fire-and-forget pattern that is used to perform notifications about data changes. This pattern should be used when a provider is notifying an interested consumer that an event has taken place on their data.
An example use-case for the notification pattern is a delivery status update of a courier company. Metadata on a package (e.g. its delivery status) is sent to consumers to notify them of a state change of the data.
The information distribution is the second variation of the push-based integration super pattern. It is an informal information exchange between parties to perform data synchronisation. We should use this pattern when a provider has changed data that a subscriber has registered an interest to keep synchronised.
An example use-case for this pattern is the distribution of a schedule. A large conference may publish a schedule of lectures available to conference goers through an application. Schedule changes can trigger a push of the data from the provider (conference organiser) to the consumers (conference attendees).
The Information Exchange super pattern is commonly associated with more complex integrations. The request-response and commercial transaction sub-patterns form the information exchange super-pattern.
Enterprise Application Integration, or Enterprise Service Bus topologies typically implement the information exchange patterns.
The request-response pattern is a set of related data exchanges between systems for a single workflow, with data flowing in both directions.
This pattern is common in the UBL service interactions. For example, the quotation process involves the customer sending data pertaining to the quotation to the supplier, who responds with data of the quotation itself.
This pattern implements a transaction which requires a form of non-repudiation. The term non-repudiation refers to an assertion which cannot be disputed. There are two main types of non-repudiation in integration architecture - non-repudiation of receipt, and non-repudiation of origin.
Non-repudiation of receipt means that a system sending a message has a guarantee that the destination system has in fact received it; and has concrete evidence to refute any contrasting claim (“I never got that message!”) made by the receiving system. Typically, this is achieved by requiring a receipt on delivery sent by the receiving system back to the sender, which the sender then retains to prove delivery was successful.
Non-repudiation of origin means that the receiving system can be sure that the message originated where they expected and that it has not been altered in transit. This is achieved by payload encryption and digital signatures and refutes any contrasting “I never sent that!” or “That’s not what I sent!” claims made by the sender.
The use-cases for this pattern are somewhat tautological - commercial transactions. Payments or other legally binding transactions between systems will require this pattern of integration.
Integration architecture can be intimidating. However, if we keep in mind these simple building-blocks of super-patterns and sub-patterns, and if we simplify our interactions as the flow of data and metadata between systems, then we can model even large or complex applications consistently and understandably.
IntegrationWorks Australia, the company that specialises in integration connectivity for enterprise applications, infrastructure and cloud environments, today announced the launch of the MuleSoft Certified Connector for IntegrationWorks PI Historian™ The IntegrationWorks PI Historian™, built on MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform™, enables organizations to quickly and easily connect Operational Technology (OT) networks with Information Technology networks, and will be available in Anypoint Exchange for all Anypoint Platform users to access.
The use and reliability of Operational Technology (OT) networks are becoming increasingly critical to industries such as manufacturing, utilities, mining, defence and construction. OT networks support specific field technology such as sensors, lights, elevators, temperature gauges and cooling systems. With the rise of IoT and cloud computing, sourcing data from these networks are becoming critical to operational performance, big data insights and cybersecurity remediation.
“We’ve taken a significant step to provide comprehensive integration solutions for our customers in mining, utilities, food processing and manufacturing in Australia by building the IntegrationWorks PI Historian™ connector on the MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform,” said Ian Richards, managing director of IntegrationWorks. “This will help enable our customers to perform even more powerful data integrations across their OT and IT networks, thus reducing downtime and increasing data insights for remote field operations.” . “Traditionally, IT and OT have had very separate roles in an organisation. IT is typically tasked with moving data between computers and humans, whereas OT is tasked with moving data between ‘things,’ such as sensors, actuators, smart machines, and other devices to enhance manufacturing, mining or industrial processes.” “This is now changing as companies want to collect telemetry data from the OT side to drive analytics and business processes on the IT side. The two networks are blurring and it has huge implications for IT networking and cybersecurity teams.” said Richards.
The IntegrationWorks PI Historian™ connector provides a powerful integration stack that helps these industries to integrate and manage a changing network of field telemetry data, cloud applications and IT infrastructure networks. The IntegrationWorks Solution The IntegrationWorks PI Historian™ connector provides the data integration and time series stamping of OT network data to more seamlessly converge OT and IT networks, while leveraging MuleSoft for connectivity. IT/OT convergence with IntegrationWorks PI Historian can offer benefits including:
● Less siloed IT and OT departments, as the departments must share their respective areas of expertise to manage the integration and output of both networks.
● Reduced development and support costs, in part due to predictive maintenance enabled by IoT devices. This means field technology can be monitored and repaired remotely without having to send staff to various sites.
● Improved compliance with regulatory standards, because the addition of IT to OT allows for better visibility. Anypoint Platform customers can learn more about the IntegrationWorks PI Historian™ by visiting: https://www.mulesoft.com/partner/integrationworks.
As a MuleSoft Partner, IntegrationWorks helps clients address on-premises, cloud and hybrid integration use cases with scale and ease of use. About Anypoint Platform MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform™ is the world’s #1 integration and API platform. It uniquely allows organizations to use API-led connectivity to unlock their data, empower their business with productized APIs, and create connected experiences, faster. Anypoint Platform is the only solution that offers a single, unified platform for iPaaS and full lifecycle API management, both on-premises and in the cloud. MuleSoft is a registered trademark of MuleSoft, Inc., a Salesforce company. All other marks are those of respective owners.
Integration connects application software in order to work as one whole system instead of disparate parts but it doesn’t accurately define the need for interconnectivity in its entirety. When it comes to integration, different software can learn to speak to each other through its individual data and information but it’s worth highlighting that if the software speaks in different languages, the picture isn’t quite complete.
Interoperability fills that gap via interconnectivity, and it goes deeper than data and information sharing. Interoperability syncs the software so that data may move effortlessly between software continuously and that the data is communicating more effectively and predictably without the need for interference.
It’s easy to assume that integration and interoperability mean the same thing, but they have unique differences. Here’s why interoperability matters to your organisation.
Duplicate data and data entry creates inefficiencies in all organisations, which works against continuity across departments. Interoperable software solves this fragmentated approach across application workflows by communicating data across all software no matter what software a provider has implemented. This allows all software to sync, and speak the same language, which erases duplicate information and improves efficiency.
Interoperability can reduce expenses to both the business and the end user. When software isn’t compatible within an organisation it can put a stop to revenue generating services, but interoperable software can support new services with things like payment processes being improved as information can be shared faster and more effectively. This is performed by identifying isolated information systems with redundant information and locating it in order to accomplish more fluid communication between them.
Interoperability assists one provider to access information from another, and the same goes across departments, this can also benefit the end customer experience by allowing available access to all data sets across multiple sources to avoid any gaps in data retrieval. In order to avoid customers being required to jump through too many hoops, interoperability can ensure the most information possible is gathered in order to provide solutions and customer care that is presented back efficiently, quickly and accurately. Relevant decisions can be made in real time, and peace of mind is given to service providers in that they know they have all of the information they need to make informed decisions.
For traditional sectors that don’t have interoperable software in place, or still have archaic filing systems, providers miss out on the ability to identify and use relevant data that could lead to new revenue opportunities and cut costs significantly.
They may have the capability to send and receive information but will struggle to find data quickly and build solutions for customers effectively. Interoperability offers increased adaptability, which means systems that collect information can connect with other systems and transfer that data automatically and flexibly, meaning changes and new solutions can be implemented with minimal fuss.
Data collection also relates to the production process and with data interoperability, this can be managed in a way where information is accessible by various users. When interoperability is accessed in every aspect of its organisation, it drives significant cost savings by reducing unnecessary processes and bottlenecks as all information is made available up front and there are no missing links in information.
“When aiming to optimise costs in data management and integration initiatives, it is critical to know what steps to take and where significant savings can be realized while maintaining operational success," comments IntegrationWorks Country Manager, Andy Hargrave.
The team at IntegrationWorks have recently shared nine important areas in which IT leaders can greatly minimise costs during global crisis, in relation to supporting data management and integration environments:
Perform Operational Database Consolidation
New Zealand Enterprises can potentially reduce costs by approximately 10 to 25 percent by consolidating redundant databases and workloads. In most large organisations there is the potential to save hundreds of thousands of dollars and move upward to the millions depending on the size of the organisation.
Optimize Data Integration Tools Licensing
Generally, large enterprises will operate multiple tools and processes to attain data integration objectives. By consolidating overlapping or redundant tools, organisations can lessen software license and maintenance expenses with data integration tools, and can also lower costs in acquiring and maintaining management and operational skills for these tools. According to Gartner, since the average investment in data integration tools ranges from $200,000 to $500, 000 for software licensing, organisations can potentially save over $250,000 by combining or substituting tools with lower cost options.
Leverage Established Data Structures and Data Integration Process
Significant consumption, time and effort is involved when developing databases and data integration process. Most New Zealand enterprises struggle with leveraging and recycling data-related assets that they have implemented previously. By enabling project resources to demonstrate that they can leverage previously implemented assets before they go about creating new ones, enterprises can make a significant impact in expenses by significantly improving reuse rates.
Perform Data Mart Consolidation
Siloed data marts can be consolidated into a single data warehouse or a smaller cluster of marts. This can provide the same kind of benefit as operational database consolidation, whilst also reducing complexity and expenses related to the data integration processes feeding the marts. By restructuring the data integration processes, enterprises can save approximately 50 percent (according to Gartner) of their allocated investment by supporting their incongruent data marts if they streamline those marts into an application-neutral data warehouse.
Enforce Standards to Foster Reuse and Agility
There is a significant trend toward enterprises implementing standards for database management systems, data integration processes and data quality tools. This improves the capacity for teams to collaborate and operate in an agile way due to enabling re-allocation of resources across multiple teams. Standards can also be put in place with schema design, naming conventions and many other data managements approaches. These benefits minimise costs of implementation efforts and support organisations to reduce training costs as there are less skill sets to maintain.
Defer Replacement of Custom-Coded Architectures
Migrating away from custom code can be significantly costly for IT organisations as it can drain resources and requires software licensing of the tools required to implement the process. It is possible to postpone migrations of custom coded processes that are meeting business objectives, however investment in upgraded tools can assist with providing significant benefit to the organisation. It’s important to understand that deferring investment in data integration tools can result in software licensing avoidance ranging from $100,000 to $500,000.
Explore Open Source Licensing
Software licensing and maintenance accounts for a significant portion of IT budgets when it comes to data management and integration procedures. This is why many New Zealand enterprises are looking at alternative methods of licensing including open source licensing whereby users acquire no upfront licensing investment at all.
Renegotiate Services Contracts
It’s normal for enterprises to outsource services to diversify their skills and staff when implementing data management and integration initiatives. IT projects can be bundled when it comes to planning and design to combine the implementation into a complete service. By talking with your existing suppliers, you can combine a series of services into one fixed-fee monthly cost that is reduced in price and adds value to your organisation. An example of this is the IntegrationWorks Managed Service offering.
Tackling significant reductions can be more palatable by breaking it down strategically, into three phases, beginning with the ‘no brainer’ changes and moving upward to the more complex and ambitious ones.
There’s many reasons why your organisation should consider a phased approach, including mitigating risk that comes with one big swoop of change, reducing excessive investment of time or resource that may not be there right now and minimising internal disruption or potential system failures.
**Phase 1: fast clean-up**
The first phase intends to have your teams identify the easily highlighted targets that will allow the organisation to get some stress-free wins on the board, through ‘no brainer’ cost reductions. Think about downscaling software licenses, cancelling noncompliant projects and withdrawing almost-never used applications.
When it comes to downscaling software, assign the resources to take inventory of idle, underused and incorrect licenses and bring in management (ideally CIO-level) to determine the validity of the number of licenses and whether they are redundant at this time. Next step would be to retire those that are not needed followed by negotiation on discounting for consolidating valid licenses.
Cancel noncompliant projects requires consideration of projects that have been ongoing, and if they are still supporting the business and IT strategy. Follow through with making decisions on whether to continue, amend or release the project altogether.
Given the severity and impact of COVID-19, it is smart to set the exceptions bar higher than normal. Reviewing projects is likely a normal process within your business, however during a crisis such as coronavirus it is wise to strengthen decision making by setting clear boundaries as to what is truly important to your enterprise.
Consider separating projects into groups, and making decisions from there, here’s four groups we suggest to make your decisions:
(a) Continue projects with the highest business value that directly support continuing IT strategies
(b) Redesign projects with high business value that are noncompliant;
(c) Delay those compliant with the IT strategy but that offer little business value; and
(d) Cancel noncompliant projects with little-no business value
**Withdrawing almost-never used applications**
If an application has rarely or never been used in the past 12 months, consider decommissioning it. Have your relevant resources consider the usage and business need and then decide if it’s safe to retire the particular application immediately, or whether it’s more conducive to the business to replace it with an upgraded application. From there, the remaining applications that are almost unused, can be slowly phased out.
Phase 2: Minimise complexity
Rather than optimising and putting in place new IT strategies, these COVID-19 times require consideration of reducing any ad hoc projects that include customisation of systems, applications or processes. In the second phase focus should involve dissolving any existing pieces of the IT setup that are not needed, rather than focusing on optimisation.
Perhaps there is room to consider ‘out of the box’ type solutions that don’t require extra resourcing or customising. This phase is about shifting the mindset from customisation first, to customisation ‘only if absolutely necessary’.
The best starting place for enforcing increased ‘out of the box’ solutions, is with those functions that are not tied to competition, for example accounting, HR and purchasing.
Remove any tendency for staff, or teams, to ‘reinvent the wheel’ when it isn’t necessary or aligned with the current situational business challenge. Review the existing portfolio and identify opportunities to reuse or repurpose existing solutions and applications.
A serious review of the existing project portfolio will probably uncover a number of opportunities to reuse existing solutions and build a common repository of services and solutions. The move to a service-oriented architecture (SOA), which describes a system in terms of the business capabilities it requires, helps to follow a more uniform way to interact with them, and can be an important shift to make.
Consider consolidating databases and delivering a more integrated approach to your IT environment, as non-integration of databases creates inefficiency and significantly drives costs up.
**Phase 3: Innovate**
This is the time, and phase, to transform your business if it calls for it. Once you have consolidated and cleaned up your existing infrastructure, there is room for re-invention and this could be necessary in order to continue to grow during the COVID-19 crisis, and to follow.
IT plays a critical role in the implementation of big project changes or company-wide innovative strategic development. This phase is about making bold and ambitious changes, with the collaboration of your teams and key resources working together to deliver a transformation from the ground up.
Identify the key areas and assess the operating models that may better suit the direction of your IT organisation. Consider a comprehensive review of the IT value chain including the level of sourcing, consolidation, governance and IT enablement that might be necessary as you put in place new business capabilities.
Through review, you could develop a more effective blueprint and architecture environment for IT. Business leaders should be working closely with the IT leadership team to co-asses a diverse set of emerging technologies and applications that support new way of operating.
You could consider co-creating products with customers and suppliers, online collaboration among employees and innovation in data-driven management. New tools and processes can significantly improve and increase development and time to market. Anything you can do to streamline IT architecture and integration so you are well placed for companywide innovation, that leads to a more cost effective and innovative approach to revenue generation, will have you in good stead as we embark on a whole new way of working whilst navigating COVID-19.
As software and integration experts, we see the high cost of engineering software programs as a major pain-point for many organizations from multi-nationals to small to medium enterprises. Under normal circumstances many of these companies do not have effective systems in place to monitor their software licenses or usage. This results in compliance risk and heavy financial costs, including penalties.
However, in these times, there is opportunity to reduce your software licensing costs while enhancing the value and efficiency of your software system. Read some of our tips below:
## Carry out a thorough software audit
Gain an overview and detailed understanding of the software that your business currently has in use, and analyse against “nice to have” versus “need to have” requirements, and break it down into cost savings if those “nice to haves” were migrated.
Forecast future software licence growth and do so regularly. Tie those forecasts back to business indicators such as expected growth, business changes or continuity plans. Don’t fall into the trap of not seeing the problem coming. Be aware of the licencing models for your products, and if there are any duplications in applications across multiple teams. Have visibility on how you’re charged over processor power, throughput, connections or users.
Tie everything back to spending by having a clear overview of what you’re spending and where it’s going. You will be able to communicate this back to the business and know where you can close the loop on unnecessary spend.
## Maximise your existing licenses
Are all your licenses being used to their entire capacity? Tackling these issues is undoubtedly a challenge, but with the right auditing and optimisation process, you can create a streamlined software portfolio that works for you (side sell: the IntegrationWorks expert SAM team can do this for you).
To optimise your existing software licenses, you need to have a clear overview of all the services and applications that are currently in use across the organisation. You can pick up doubling of licensing here, and also compare the contractual terms. Work towards transferring licenses within the organization and maximising the value of existing software assets both in perpetual licenses and SaaS models.
## Negotiate with existing vendors
Once you’ve identified unnecessary costs, you’re in a strong position to negotiate contracts with your existing suppliers and reduce ongoing maintenance costs for unused software.
When approaching vendors to negotiate on behalf of our clients, we would usually undertake a myriad of complex actions, but an easy-to-achieve quick wins is this:
1. We look carefully at the terms of existing contracts for our clients and compare with alternative technologies before entering negotiations;
2. We’d be discussing new contracts well in advance of the next licensing renewal date to be in the best position to negotiate. Vendors are more likely to comply now if they know there’ll still be a customer at the end of the period; and
3. We’d ask about any available discounts and lighter terms given the current economic period.
By negotiating effectively with your existing suppliers, you can reduce costs of up to 45% of your licensing. Given this time, that is a huge savings for any major enterprise.
## Consolidate your existing software and hardware
Look into whether you may have multiple software licensing agreements across different project groups or various sites. This is a common occurrence in siloed businesses or teams that work across multiple geographic zones. Separate licenses often exist because of an immediate need in the business that is not formally rolled out in a project-based fashion. Consolidating these licenses into one usage agreement can dramatically reduce costs and add in extra support from the vendor.
## Manage staff usage
Having control and visibility on how your staff use software can be a great opportunity to reduce software licensing costs. Set basic system log-off periods to reduce data transfer usage, or number of licenses at one time. Assign administrative rights for any new software installation to stop users from accessing software when it’s not necessary for business operations.
Develop software usage policies and ensure all employees understand and adhere to those policies. Context around potential costs is vital to ensure employees make sensible decisions and understand the risks associated.
Ensure that any returned computers from exiting members of staff have the software uninstalled and the license released. It could also be a good opportunity to confirm with your provider that re-installations after a computer refresh do not consume an extra license.
## Lastly, engage expertise
Oversights and mistakes can be extremely costly. An investment in expertise gives you the assurance you need that your compliance is being monitored accurately especially at this challenging time. Ensuring all software is tracked and entitlements are understood is not a trivial process. Reach out for help when you need it.
Cost containment is an ongoing challenge for any business, but by aligning with the suggestions listed above you can reduce your software costs in the light of this global pandemic and come out as a stronger IT organisation on the end of it.
To continue having a viable business, companies must quickly adopt new working policies and IT needs to shift and adapt at a rapid pace. Unfortunately, the processes and procedures aren’t being adhered to as closely as usual right now. While the most important thing is to keep businesses up and running, looking at the longer term impact and any pitfalls that you can fall into means you can avoid unplanned future expenses. Expert recommendations advise:
Equip staff for success and business continuity with GDPR, data privacy regulations and cybersecurity in mind.
Reinforce Security Best Practice. There has been a spike in phishing attacks, which has been driven by people’s desire for information about the Covid19 developments.
Adapt any on-premises and cloud instances. Using a cloud management platform can help deal with multi-cloud environments and ensure you can keep track of both the SaaS costs and security.
Ensure Visibility and Agility and consider the immediate and long-term licensing impact. Many of the large vendors are offering free licenses to help business adapt in challenging times. For example, that offer for 3-6 months of free software may have been necessary at the time to seamlessly enable productivity. But was it the right software for the long term and, if not, will the business be committing to a product that was never budgeted for?
Review the software usage and costs now. The Coronavirus impact to the global and local economy will most likely be longer than some experts initially predicted. As we look beyond the current situation, the primary focus for organisations is the cost management and reduction for their IT assets – and we are well placed to help.
Prepare for the future. Licensing and technology experts can help you address the current cost challenges and consider the future of your IT estate.
Keeping a close eye on cloud and software investments, has never been more vital. Re-negotiating existing vendor contracts, reducing cloud spend and optimizing the software requirements for remote workers will be the key areas, as will audit defense. Knowing what can bring the highest risk of non-compliance is vital, as is knowing how to rectify any potential issues, and how to manage contracts with various software vendors.
To help manage your changing environments, the focus should be on identifying potential risks, gaining skills to deal with them, and reducing the costs going forward.
At the moment, most of the large vendors have shifted their priorities from an auditing focused approach to a collaborative approach. They are continuously developing new offerings to help you overcome the crisis. With all organizations having to adapt at speed, chances are that many have been pushed into making quick decisions. The consequences of those decisions could have a lasting impact. And with processes not being followed, this can lead to:
Becoming under-licensed or over-licensed
Falling into licensing traps
Increased use of IaaS which leads to additional licensing costs
License Management and potential Audits. While making money out of a scenario like the COVID-19 outbreak isn’t the right approach to any vendor, some of them will be pencilling audits on their calendar for 2022 onwards. Most likely “coronavirus” will not be a good enough defence against non-compliance, which means some big penalties could be on the table.
If organisations are serious about avoiding software licensing penalties or fees, they need to ensure they implement efficient discovery tools, license optimisation software and consider partnering with software license experts to be able to create accurate software asset reports. A change management process must be in place to ensure that changes made in the datacentre are compliant with the existing licensing agreements. In our next post, we will be discussing how your organisation can actually save money during this time across your software licencing surface.
Imagine the life of hunter-gatherers:
They go all the way to the forest to hunt for food.
They do not have the concept of stocking food.
Hunting in itself involves much effort, but the meat they get out of it is not consumable yet. It needs cleaning and cooking.
There's no guarantee that food is available every time.
Most of their life was revolving around finding food and other resources to fulfill their basic needs.
Translating that to how technology works in most organisations:
Every application in the organisation, including the fancy mobile apps, has to go all the way to the legacy systems for data. Data is not stored anywhere else in the enterprise in real-time. The data from legacy systems may not be readily consumable (pipe-delimited texts or XMLs). Developers spend a lot of time cleaning and transforming the data into a useful format (using middleware that provides JSON payload through layered and reusable APIs).
Data availability to customers is impacted when any of the layers (backend/middleware) is down.
Most of the developers' delivery time is consumed in extracting and transforming the data, instead of focusing on innovation and customer experience.
Productivity was not a thing several centuries ago, and hunter-gatherers were happy to spend the whole day to get a single meal. However, imagine the world we are living in today. Customer expectations are rocketing sky high, and their expectations transcend industry boundaries. It is the customers that define requirements for software, and those requirements are a moving target. To remain relevant in this ever-changing world, only two things are constant:
Experimentation mindset - Software needs to be designed and delivered for change
Speed to market - New features need to reach customers quickly.
This certainly is not possible in the hunter-gatherer world.
Local Data Supermarkets
We need to move to the world of local (data) supermarkets, where
Food and ingredients are locally accessible that we no longer worry about going to the forest to hunt for them - Local data stores for delivery teams
Food and ingredients are available in a wide variety and volume at any given time.
The supply available is consumable with minimal or no effort. There's a lot more time to focus on productivity and innovation. This is a truly modern (digital) world where we want to live.
Role of Integration
The main ingredient for business innovation is data. Having the data hidden deep in the legacy systems that are covered with blankets of layered interfaces is only going to be counter-productive. The data needs to be transported from legacy systems to data supermarkets in real-time, well before customers request for it. This can only be done with a robust supply-chain in place. This is where integration comes into the picture.
Large enterprises with legacy systems can be imagined as athletes running a race with a big bag of weight. To win the competition, they don't necessarily have to get rid of the bag, but instead, keep it aside with an assurance that it is accessible anytime. Incumbents can very well innovate and disrupt the sector with legacy systems - stay tuned to explore the above concept in detail with architectural patterns.
This is part 3 of the Digital Transformation blog series, addressing the following questions:
What's stopping us from providing an exceptional digital experience to customers? Why can't we deliver at speed even after onboarding an agile Digital team that implements microservices? Why are we struggling to use data as an asset? How long should we wait before our data can be used by a digital brain to drive the digital business? Why are we, as a business, struggling to innovate? When will the business be ready for disruptions and self-cannibalisation?
The pool of talent was large with over 2000 student profiles on Summer of Tech. The students first met IntegrationWorks at the Summer of Tech meet and greet and selected students quickly made it through to the interview stage. After impressing the IntegrationWorks team with their 10-minute interviews, students were invited to our office to then be offered an internship.
We are pleased to announce that all 7 interns have signed their full-time contacts and are now permanent members of the IntegrationWorks team.
**Here is what Kobe Xu, one of our Summer of Tech interns has to say about his internship.**
During my summer internship at IntegrationWorks, I got introduced to the world of Integration and got an exposure to experiences that ranged from implementing simple integration tasks to being part of a working production team. These experiences allowed me to not only focus on upskilling and growing my own technical skills but also let me to use the knowledge I gained on a real-world client engagement.
My internship gave me an eye-opening insight into a range of tools and technologies, most of which new to me. I got to research and develop on one of the latest programming languages: Ballerina, I was given an introduction to integration platforms such as WSO2 and Node-Red, I was also able to run a K3S cluster on Raspberry Pis using the Kibana visualization tool to analyse Kubernetes logs.
What I loved the most about my internship at IntegrationWorks is the environment and company culture. A quote from my colleague fully describes this. “Everyone sacrifices their own time for others and everyone is unbelievably approachable no matter the role or title”.
Throughout the internship, I have significantly grown my technical skills but more importantly, I have picked up essential knowledge that contributed to my personal growth and career which has quickly surpassed anything I could have anticipated. To work in a company that fast-tracked my career is truly awesome and I’m glad I joined Integrationworks.
Picture a man in a forest, chopping down a tree. He’s swinging his axe, working up a sweat, but making pretty slow progress. A travelling salesman with a secondary interest in graph theory is passing by. He pauses and observes the painstaking labour of the lumberjack. Filled with a capitalist pity for the mans plight, he he lays a hand on his shoulder. “Here” he says. “Try this.” With these words, he plucks a chainsaw from his load and hands it to the worker.
“Brilliant!” the weary whacker wheezes. “This will expedite my delivery and surely digitize my production line, all while disrupting big data.” He takes a good grip of the chainsaw, lines up the nearest pillar of pine and swings the tool with force. The salesman winces, collects his payment and proceeds on his merry way.
The point of the above story is that while new technology certainly can improve our lives and speed up our processes, it only does so when used correctly. Unfortunately, a natural tendency when handed a new platform is to try to shoehorn it into doing things the way we have always done them. A problem with this approach is that it can negate most - if not all - of the benefits that the new tech has to offer in the first place.
Today, a big push we see almost ubiquitously is that of a digital “Cloud Migration”; moving data, systems, and applications from their snug home on-premises to a cloud computing environment such as AWS, Google or Azure. Executives are promised a utopia of reduced hosting costs, auto-scaling infrastructure and a rapidly diminishing support bill.
Cliched planning involving whiteboards and sticky notes
The engineers are excited. They take a furtive look at the quivering monolith of legacy code creaking on their servers and dream of a world of serverless functions, event streaming and microservices.
The possibilities are endless. But what happens? The monolith gets wrapped with some VM configuration and exported to EC2. The home servers get turned off and the cloud migration is declared a success. The executives pat each other on the back as the salesman winces, collects his payment and proceeds on his merry way.
As you may imagine, the lofty hopes of the cloud migration are not realised. Sure, there might be some savings in infrastructure hosting, but the support costs and the speed of delivery have not noticeably improved. Why not? Because new legacy was built. Or, perhaps more accurately, old legacy was replatformed, creating new legacy.
From the field we see this all too often. Companies can have huge historic systems hosted in their “closet-datacenter”. An ambitious migration project moves the data and all its custom-built services into a cloud account. Virtual containers are spun up and the entire system is dropped in place. Sometimes, and to their credit, digital services using cloud native features are designed and built to provide access to the data and functionality provided by the old system. However, since they rely on the monolith of legacy services and data-structures - which remain fundamentally unchanged - the performance and reliability of the new technology suffers, and the desired improvements go unrealised.
Choosing a Migration Strategy
The successful planning and implementation of a cloud migration isn’t a one-size-fits all problem. Every business is unique, and - even within a business - different systems and applications will have their own distinct migration requirements.
Thanks to the over-representation of pirates undergoing digital transformation, there are five or six generally accepted “Rs” of migration. These include Rehosting or Replatforming (lifting and shifting), Repurchasing (finding a COTS solution that does it all for you), Retiring (getting rid of), Retaining (doing nothing) and Rearchitecting.
Of all these various R’s, rearchitecting is the most likely to provide the largest benefit when migrating a sufficiently legacy system to the cloud. Rearchitecting allows for the system to be designed from the ground up with cloud native tools and features. Monoliths can be broken down into services or microservices, heavy SOAP Web Services can be simplified into lightweight APIs backed by serverless functions. and giant relational databases can be refactored into robust data platforms.
Rearchitecting may not always be necessary though. Simply because an application is deployed on-premise doesn’t mean that it is legacy or ready for the scrap heap. Conversely, anti-patterns can be developed for cloud services as readily as they can be for more traditional platforms. Like many things in life, the best strategy to follow depends on the specifics of the situation.
It is generally accepted that legacy systems can be a problem. But legacy doesn’t always mean old. Without proper planning, an application deployed to the very newest and shiniest of platforms can creak and groan like a mainframe monolith.
In order to avoid building new legacy, thought needs to be given to how the system can take advantage of the benefits offered by the new platform. Sometimes this might require a complete design overhaul. Other times perhaps only a few tweaks are required. One thing to keep in mind is that if you are swinging a chainsaw at a tree, you’re probably doing it wrong.
Primarily, digital transformation initiatives can fall under two categories
Digitise core business: Business models and products remain the same, but there is a digital presence, possibly with better digital features. For instance, customers shop online instead of walking into the stores.
Create new Digital businesses / Innovate - New businesses that were not possible or hard to realise in the non-digital environment. For instance, The market from The Warehouse, that's expected to be New Zealand's Amazon.
In the last decade, many companies placed a greater focus on the former category even though there is much evidence that innovation and new digital businesses are vital to a business's sustenance. McKinsey states that companies generally invest more digital capital in the former category than the latter. One leading to the other could be a possible assumption for this trend.
Problems often arise if digitising the core business (incorrectly) complicates the process of creating new digital businesses. The digital strategies that once promised to enable future business initiatives quickly begin to impede the business's growth. Unfortunately, this is a typical pattern seen in some organisations today. The obstacles many companies currently face to innovate in a digital ecosystem are similar to the ones that existed in the non-digital world. For instance, it was hard to get meaningful data out of legacy ERP quickly, and now it is equally hard or even harder to seamlessly get useful data out of a bunch of APIs or middleware. Perhaps, in the name of digitalisation, all that has happened is the creation of a shiny new legacy?
Besides, customers' expectations have changed tremendously over the last couple of years. The competition for an APP is no longer within a particular industry but with all the APPs available worldwide. For instance, a search feature in an APP is expected to be as good as Google's and personalisation as good as Netflix's. Hence, the transformation strategies that were initiated a few years ago may not be relevant today.
2020 has begun, why not use the new year as an imperative to pause, assess and ensure that the ongoing digital transformation journey will not hinder your business growth?
Digital Transformation Trends
We are blessed to be in the digital era where technology is seen as a business enabler instead of a business supplement. The common trends seen in the market are:
The problem with these digital technology choices is that they have the potential to quickly distract an organisation from the focus on the actual business value that the transformation journey is expected to provide.
Digital Transformation Challenges
We come across organisations that face unanticipated challenges during the transformation, even after following digital technology trends. The questions they commonly ask are.
Why do we face application performance and reliability issues despite migrating to cloud and modern technologies? What's stopping us from providing an omnichannel customer experience? Why can't we deliver at speed even after onboarding an agile Digital team that implements microservices? Why are we struggling to use data as an asset? How long should we wait before our data can be used by a digital brain to drive the digital business? Why are we, as a business, struggling to innovate? When will the business be ready for disruptions and self-cannibalisation?
Digital transformation journey started several years ago, and yet we pay for multiple platforms for the same purposes. When will we stop spending on technical debt? Most of the digital strategies do not provide direct tangible benefits. How do we push a digital business case forward and articulate the real business value?
Are you facing any of these challenges? There is no obvious one-size-fits-all solution; however, this series will cover each issue in detail, along with some real-world examples. Stay tuned to take a closer look at the challenges, with valuable insights and tips from the experts.
However, achieving a hybrid cloud environment is challenging. Each application is built differently, in different decades and have distinct requirements towards cybersecurity. Some applications that run on-premise or in the cloud solely, might work fine there. But when exposed to data layers or multiple cloud environments, they can fall over and need to be rewritten.
To truly make sure that your hybrid cloud strategy is suitable for your environment; a plan that covers network, security, data, operations and applications needs to be constructed to create a holistic integration system both on-premises and in the cloud.
Hybrid cloud can be challenging for operations departments to manage, with services deployed in multiple locations. When working with our clients, we advise to reduce the complexity of user interfaces and automating as many workload deployments as possible. Rigour around governance and management procedures can ensure any system failures are responded to quickly.
Data needs to be protected wherever it resides, and security measures need to apply across the entire system. You may need different tools on different platforms, but the policies applied should be consistent in all environments. Some of the quickest vulnerabilities to exploit are at the integration layer, where data sources come in and out of the environment so ensuring these areas are architected with cybersecurity at the forefront will pay off when in production.
IntegrationWorks works with a range of integration technologies to help our customers in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom to seamlessly connect their environments. We believe connected systems are fundamental to high performing businesses in on-premise, cloud and hybrid environments. Contact us to learn how our services can help you leverage the benefits of a hybrid cloud architecture with streamlined integration.
IntegrationWorks is a proud Platinum Business Partner of IBM
However, achieving a hybrid cloud environment is challenging. Each application is built differently, in different decades and have distinct requirements towards cybersecurity. Some applications that run on-premise or in the cloud solely, might work fine there. But when exposed to data layers or multiple cloud environments, they can fall over and need to be rewritten.
To truly make sure that your hybrid cloud strategy is suitable for your environment; a plan that covers network, security, data, operations and applications needs to be constructed to create a holistic integration system both on-premises and in the cloud.
In any cloud architecture, the network boundaries can be blurred. Virtual private networks and direct connections between the cloud and your infrastructure environments will make your cloud applications and systems easily visible. This will also enhance your network capacity to handle back-up and restore, as well as manage bulk data migrations across the environment.
Data & Application Integration:
Hybrid cloud computing requires data that lives both in the cloud and in the data center, with well-defined procedures to access it and to migrate it across platforms when necessary. A combination of primary and secondary data sources, plus security and infrastructure layers will need to be consolidated to ensure full data integration. This is where a solid iPaaS solution or an IBM Cloud Pak for Integration solution would be feasible.
On the application front, the goal of hybrid cloud is to let applications work together, wherever they are deployed. You may need to build tools, like APIs, that enable your cloud-based applications to work with your existing enterprise applications. We frequently use tools such as IBM’s API Connect to ensure API deployment success.
IntegrationWorks is a proud Platinum Business Partner of IBM
With the advance of global partnerships, sharing of data and specific data compliance regulations including Open Banking and GDPR movements, we’ve seen an increase in requirement for B2B integration solutions. The challenge in connecting to external partner data sources, including legacy applications and a myriad of open source and proprietary data formats.
Once you need to connect with more than two partners, B2B integration can get extremely challenging, therefore it’s vital to have adequate data integration tools available. Some of these solutions can come in the form of a complementary EiPaaS or HIP technologies, that are either implemented internally or via an external consultancy. Others may provide fully managed data integration solutions utilizing an people, process and technology that covers the wide requirements for enterprise integration.
API’s have been included in integration strategies, roadmaps and architectures since early 2015 – so how are they still hyped and relevant in today’s IT environment? Because they’re still a revolutionary format of integration, that is relatively quick to spin up in a simple RAML or REST format, and allow you to connect to any software without a documentation piece that is over 500 pages long. APIs will soon focus on ease-of-use and monetisation of those formats to create new revenue channels, if not already.
Managed Integration Services
Investing in integration technology is one piece of the pie, but it’s only the engine in the car to integration success. A holistic integration solution involves cap analysis, roadmaps, strategies and architecture. Then implementation, monitoring, service orientation and support. As integration technologies and methodologies advance, so do the requirements of people resources that have the skills to accommodate these changes. Having access to these skillsets, as well as the technology and monitoring capacity within your internal organisation is going to be scarce, so specialist professional services consultancies will be able to offer an all-inclusive service that lowers cost of integration and provides reliable, advanced service in integration environment solutions.
IntegrationWorks is a proud Platinum Partner of IBM
This simply means that the way you cut up the functionality to be reused internal or external to your application is different to the connectivity to put them together.
This is quite an important differentiation as microservices should apply the smart-endpoints, dumb-pipes approach, and not have any dependencies on other microservices. This is different to using most web-services, where they are designed to be invoked remotely and choreographed by a central technology platform.
What just happened?
Vendor marketing for integration platforms has unfortunately driven the misunderstanding of microservices to the point where most integration platforms tout the ability to implement microservices.
Ask yourself: why would your integration technology be used to host your application? At best, using the integration technology to interface to your application would be sufficient (using web-services in the form of an API or Webhook).
The main reason for using microservices as an approach to application development is so the functionality can be managed in smaller pieces - hopefully leading to less operational overhead in build and release time.
When you are writing small web services and trying to apply a microservices way of working to your organisation this can lead to very chatty systems, and a proliferation of resources that now need to be governed and managed.
How do we avoid making this mistake?
There are significant benefits to using microservices, but you need to ensure you are pursing it for the right reasons, and that you can adequately support this change.
Some of the main questions you should be asking are:
If the answer to any of these questions is No, then you may run into issues implementing microservices. This does not mean you will not get benefits from smaller scalable web-services, but you could sink a phenomenal amount of cost into changing your business and not realising the potential gains.
Where to next?
Looking at your software development to ensure you actually require the benefits of a microservices architecture is the first step. The next step is ensuring that you can effectively support the major changes required to implement it.
If you do not require the massively increased agility, or you cannot support the encapsulation required for this to be effective then all is not lost. Implementing scalable, robust and independent web-services can offer major benefits, without breaking the business, budget, or applications you have.
Whatever you do though, do not confuse implementing microservices with web-services.
In the last five years, we’ve seen the rise of Integration-Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) and have partnered with a few major technology solutions. iPaaS simplifies and speeds up integration while allowing you to build on your integration strategy. New tools like this can open your environment to internal and external data sharing, and paving the way for new technologies such as blockchain.
In this two -part blog series, we’re going to outlay seven integration trends that we’ll see around the world for 2020. These trends are currently in market, or new to market, and are expected to revolutionise the existing landscape.
Hybrid Integration Platforms (HIP)
Recently, Gartner has been emphasizing the strategic importance of hybrid integration platform (HIP). From what we have found, only a few iPaaS solutions on the market can handle a true HIP user case, which leaves the solution to be desired. In the quest to build interoperability between on-premise technologies and cloud-based solutions require a solid HIP solution, implementation and a system that can take on different technologies and data formats as they emerge. The business benefits of a HIP system is that you can invest in new technologies, while still yielding return from your old investments – by adding a new layer of integration to your on-premise technologies and connecting them to new modern applications or data sources.
Enterprise Application Integration (EAI)
Although EAI has been in use for a number of years now, enterprises are only starting to realise the benefits of EAI. Within an organisation of hundreds or thousands of applications and software, connectivity can help break down data silos and improve processes by sharing data automatically in real-time. EAI has scalable connectivity between applications and allows functionality of automation in integration. By increasing connectivity and data sharing across the entire company, operations will become more agile.
Enterprise Integration Platform as a Service (EiPaaS)
In the race towards digital transformation, there are an emerging amount of new SaaS applications available that can help to make businesses more efficient. However, enterprises have many systems and departments internally that lack connectivity, thus collaboration is ineffective as they lack real-time data sharing. Due to globalization, companies today operate in a 24/7 cycle and need access to markets, operational data, and consumer data globally. However, the same challenges arise – applications built in different decades, or data formats in needing to be converted and issues around data hygiene. This is where a simple, lightweight, solution such as EiPaaS can solve some of these problems with solutions around citizen integration, or integration managed services that can take care of the development, deployment and maintenance of your integration solutions so you don’t have to.
EiPaaS is gaining popularity compared to traditional integration solutions as its key capabilities make it a lot easier to develop and manage integrations. Additionally, EiPaaS technology solutions are built on public or private clouds, thus allowing visibility and scale globally.
IntegrationWorks is a proud Platinum Partner of IBM
In our view best practice should include coverage of the following areas. Simply reporting the facts without exercising control is a recipe for disaster.
Plan for the Future
Forecast future software licence growth and do so regularly. Tie those forecasts back to business indicators such as expected growth and new initiatives. Don’t fall into the trap of not seeing the problem coming. Be aware of the licencing models for your products, how are you charged? Processor power, throughput, connections or something else? Good knowledge of these factors makes forecasting easier and ensures the forecasts are relevant.
Develop software usage policies and ensure all employees understand and adhere to those policies. Context around potential costs is vital to ensure employees make sensible decisions and understand the risks associated. If you have no policy and controls in place you are asking for trouble.
Look at the monitoring tools provided by your vendors and see how much automation they offer. Simply configuring those tools properly can give you a lot of visibility over your environment. Alternatively consider one of the Software Asset Management (SAM) tools available in the market. Regardless of the approach configure your tools to monitor and alert you of any changes on a timely basis. We would suggest daily alerting of changes as a minimum.
Oversights and mistakes can be extremely costly. An investment in expertise gives you the assurance you need that your compliance is being monitored accurately. Ensuring all software is tracked and entitlements are understood is not a trivial process. Reach out for help when you need it.
Read and know each contract thoroughly. Engaging experts, including legal and technical teams will ensure adequate compliance measures are identified prior to purchase. Once implementation is complete, frequently check that these licenses are being used correctly. If you are unable to, engage with a professional services vendor under a managed services engagement to ensure long term access to expertise and software compliance.
Communicate and Escalate
Management involvement and a top-down approach to software compliance will influence employees’ behaviours around software usage. Engaging with management on the risks of non-compliance will also prepare them in the event an audit turns into a costly outcome.
If you need assistance with managing your integration software investment get in touch. Integration is all we do, and we know how to best manage your software investment.
Why is the distinction of these terms important?
Traditional integration products do one thing, and generally do it very well - they provide the ability to build integrated systems. Most of these products contain a few extra features, like data mapping, logging, and adapters but on the whole they do what they say on the tin.
A platform by contrast, contains all of the necessary technology to build a solution on top of this and has a far greater feature set than the traditional standalone integration software.
For an integration platform to be useful they must offer features for end-to-end transaction observability, data management, layered security and more in-depth and wider technical features than just the core integration product.
Accessing this functionality as a Service removes the need for you to manage the integration platform, and allows you to focus on core business without the hassle of operational support. If you want to pay for service levels and outcomes, as opposed to performance or code then this is your model. Extra features and technology that make a platform so effective can actually slow down your delivery if they have to support the underlying technology. By consuming this as a Service you can leverage the advantages of the platform, while contracting away the operational management and support required to maintain it.
An integration-Platform-as-a-Service can give you a greater capability boost than a traditional integration product, while reducing your operational footprint - allowing you to focus on building integrated systems or interoperability into your environment.
How do you tell if you are using your platform as-a-Service?
The key to determining if you have an integration platform, or just an integration product, is if you require additional software to build your integrated systems. The most common sign is observability of your end to end integration, and if this requires additional effort to make the end-to-end transaction visible. The second test is to ensure you are not installing, upgrading, or maintaining your platform (unless there are specific requirements for doing so).
If you are providing operational support for your platform or product then you are not getting the benefits of a Service model, and you may find your team is spending their time supporting this environment instead of using it.
Tips and Reminders for an integration Platform as a Service
· Be realistic when calculating the cost of a standalone product against a platform and include factors such as the upgrade and maintenance cost
· Look for a trusted platform provider with a track record in this space and look for references that have used this platform across their organisation
· Define what parts of the platform can be hosted locally or in the could as often iPaaS vendors offer only cloud hosted platforms
· Ensure any multi-tenancy services are actually real, and if possible add additional value to the platform as a whole
· Ask to see what is covered as a Service with the subscription fee, and if you can easily increase / decrease consumption of the platform without penalty
Ensuring you get the most out of your iPaaS is about understanding if you purchased one in the first place. Determining the features outside of core integration you require in a platform to make it useful, and how you want to consume these services is critical. Selecting a vendor that can match your service levels and outcomes you want to guarantee is also important, and will determine if you can support your business initiatives effectively.
If you are unsure about the concepts in this post, or you want an honest opinion on integration platforms and products feel free to reach out to discuss.
When you purchase a software licence, you buy a licence to use that software, not the intellectual property or a tangible asset. Licence costs are driven by the usage of that software. Use more, pay more! If you don't manage that usage you expose yourself to unwanted surprises when it comes time for software compliance audits. Furthermore, the terms of your licence agreements explicitly define what you can and can't do regarding usage. If you use it, you will have to pay for it.
Our experience in this area includes engagements with large organisations that have significant investments in integration software. While we work with end users and vendors to negotiate audit outcomes, it is difficult to ensure that everyone is happy with the result. Expensive settlements don't make for good conversations around the board table, most are big enough and surprising enough to get to that level in the organisation.
Before presenting the solution lets understand the challenges that software licensing presents. Consider those discussed below.
Complex contracts: Software contracts are complex. That's a given. When you overlay that with changes over time such as new releases of software, tighter integration with customers and other businesses, indirect technology changes (more cores with your CPU anyone?) and the rise of just-in-time scalability things get a lot more involved. The licence you have may well be based on usage patterns that are over a decade old and don't reflect your current reality.
New licensing models: New technologies and the transition to cloud computing means that licensing models take on a new level of complexity. Unlike traditional perpetual, or even term licensing models, the payment for these ‘pay-as-you-go’ models rarely have a ceiling for spend and can cause bill shock. Applications in the cloud, or cloud usage models, have a tendency to interplay with the external environment and open up usage to data that has not been accounted for in the original license model.
Organisational awareness: One of the common factors we come across when assisting our clients with their license audits is a lack of knowledge about the risks of non-compliance with software licenses. While we can help and be the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, we firmly believe that "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Turning a blind eye will almost always result in tears.
Purchasing miscalculations: Forecasting purchases for software is often a complex process handled by internal resources. This is a red flag in our experience, as determining the correct quantity of licenses for today and future requirements demands precise information on data usage, growth plans, acquisition plans and capacity. Deciding what to purchase, when to purchase and what to negotiate on is a major challenge for organisations.
Good governance around software licencing starts before you even purchase that software and doesn't end until you decommission that software. In fact, even if you no longer use a software product you may still be exposed by your past usage. We recommend customers engage with us early in their integration software purchasing process to make up-to-date and informed decisions on their requirements. We believe that it’s is critical to monitor your licence position continuously and work with a partner that understands not only the licence terms but the usage of that software.
Some questions to ask:
Do you really know what software you have in place?
Do you know if your usage complies with your licence entitlements?
Do you know how to extract the best value from that investment?
Do you know the implications of using outdated software?
Do you know what your future expenditure will be?
Do you know what sort of reputational risk are you exposed to?
If you can’t get in touch.
We are specialists in managing your integration software investment because integration is all we do.
To book in a time for a complimentary software license consultation with one of our expert team, get in touch.
IntegrationWorks is one of the globes largest specialist integration consultancies with offices in New Zealand, United Kingdom, Australia and soon to be Singapore. With over 100 staff around the world, skilled in a variety of integration technologies, the company has taken advantage of the global drive for digital transformation both in on-premise and cloud-based environments.
Announcing the appointment, IntegrationWorks Global Managing Director and Head of IntegrationWorks United Kingdom, Rob Benson, said:
“We’re delighted to welcome Andy to the IntegrationWorks ANZ leadership team. He understands our business well and has been at the forefront of solving a range of integration technology issues that face New Zealand businesses. He’s proven he can grow our business regionally while supporting our ambitions to develop the best integration staff around the world. I’m confident he’ll exceed the needs of our existing customers around the country and expand our business into new sectors.”
Andy has said he looks forward to building out the IntegrationWorks New Zealand brand both with vendor partners and staff, particularly at a time when there are so many exciting opportunities to grow including in the API and iPaaS space.
“IntegrationWorks globally, and in particular in New Zealand, are filled with great people who are dedicated to driving integration and ensuring enterprises get the most of their connected technology. I am excited to be part of a team who have the ability to grow, but also give back and support our local technology community,” said Andy Hargrave, Country Manager NZ.
Governance and Management:
For enterprise customers, SaaS integration solutions offer ease of use and shifting of the maintenance of the software to the vendor. Great! However, the customer then has less visibility over their cloud integration environment and the data running through it. We advise all of our customers to ensure they have built and deployed their cloud integration solutions using an expert advisory approach that provides visibility and control over information flows.
Cybersecurity across the entire cloud environment remains a top concern for all of our clients around the world. The complexity of cloud integration compounds this. We advise all of our clients that their cloud integration solution must be capable of authenticating and authorising access to resources and must be able to encrypt and store data ideally in a multitenant environment while complying with PCI/GDPR/NDB compliance legislation. And, as an obvious measure, they must be able to access and connect enterprise data without compromising any firewalls within the environment.
An offering of an out-of-the-box connector to address common integration challenges sounds too simple to be true. And it generally is. Solutions like these are fairly limited and disempower the enterprise to freely choose the IT systems and applications that best fit their needs. In our experience, cloud integration solutions should be open platforms that allow enterprises to easily migrate on and off the integration platform similar to IBM Cloud Pak for Integration.
Determining exactly how to run your cloud integration environment is difficult, with consideration of security and sensitive data, management and governance and flexibility of use. However, an integrated cloud or hybrid-cloud environment is a far more advanced and futuristic solution than a disparate environment. Cloud integration requires careful planning, and if you lack the skills in-house, working with a trusted partner can help you quickly get your cloud environment fully functional, without costly mistakes along the way.
However, where the industry is lacking are cloud solutions for integration processes. Traditional point-to-point tools are no longer relevant and hand-coding custom API’s is an arduous task. The cloud integration market or otherwise known as integration-platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) is now well crowded, so IT professionals need to evaluate these solutions.
Besides a comprehensive vendor selection service, we offer, in general, we advise our clients to evaluate based off these three criteria when choosing an iPaaS solution:
How much, and where from, can my disparate data can run on the platform?
Undertaking a data location audit will give you a view of where your data sits across the spread of cloud applications, on-premise databases, offshore servers and in multiple clouds. Additionally, volumes and speed of this data can come in a range of formats that need to all be accommodated for with the iPaaS of choice. Some iPaaS solutions struggle with hybrid integrations, or some excel at traditional ETL workloads but then fall over when integrating modern cloud applications like Salesforce.
When shopping for a new solution it is best to ask if the platform as pre-built connectors that are critical to your business. Asking around batch-processing, low-latency processing and how to automate transforming data will save you headaches later on. The key learning here is that the more use cases that the integration platform supports, such as IBM Cloud Pak for Integration, the less custom coding you have to do.
How long does it take to build and deploy?
If you’re exploring solutions to improve data security, integrity, and governance you need to assess the speed to build and be deployed. Utilising an expert team of integration specialists across the technology will allow your engineers, developers and architects progress quickly with strategic projects.
As with any software purchase, you want the integration technology to accelerate time-to-value of your projects and it is important to understand how long it will take for your internal team or external professional services company to build customer integrations, and if you can reuse certain workflows, APIs and pipelines.
What is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)?
As the old “you pay peanuts, you get monkeys” analogy is fitting here with choosing the right iPaaS solution. If you find an integration software oddly cheap, it is wise to explore the upfront costs but also the other charges you may incur later as data starts moving through the system. Some factors to think through when assessing TCO include: FTE cost of building integrations either internally or externally, the cost of outsourcing the entire model to a supplier of integrated managed services, and understanding the total cost and impact to the business if the integration falls over for example the price of system downtime, and pulling engineers off strategic projects.
Taking a longer-term approach to the TCO problem will also help understand cost impact. Asking your vendor questions such as cost models as the volumes of data increase, cost of scaling across geographic locations and cost of replacement.
It’s tough to both predict problems that may arise and then quantify the subsequent costs. But going through the exercise of estimating the TCO of a cloud integration platform can help you make a suitable decision. When unsure, it is always suitable to ask experts on what solutions would work best, while having a view over your total requirements.
At IntegrationWorks we believe that diversity in tech begins even before entrance into the workplace. Bridging diversity and STEM fields must be a collaboration between the educators, students and the industry itself through making STEM education more welcoming to underrepresented genders, races and religions. This journey begins with inspiring young talent supported by the resources needed to thrive and grow. WITcon was an opportunity to show exactly that and demonstrate our support through being a Gold sponsor and having Siva, an Integration Architect be a part of the panel discussion.
This was the first time IntegrationWorks attended WITcon. Here are what the attendees thought.
Siva: "I was intending to use WITCon as an opportunity to motivate young women to aim high and do wonders in the technology industry, but I ended up being super inspired by the way the whole event was organized and the stimulating speeches delivered by some amazing women. It is this energy and empathy that’s very much needed in today’s industry and such events give us hope that we are not far from making this technology sector a wonderful and inclusive place for all of us. Very proud of IntegrationWorks for showing their support for such a great cause"
Pooja: "As this was my first time attending WITcon, I was not too sure what to expect, but left the event motivated and inspired. I was incredibly grateful to have been given the chance to listen to the voices of some amazing women and hear their stories and experiences. It was amazing to see people from different backgrounds, cultures and ages come together to show their support towards improving diversity and inclusively in the STEM industry."
Sam: “I had an inspiring day at WITCON, what a great event. We heard interesting women speak on subjects across the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics spectrum. We heard stories of projects and enterprises from Cambodia to Wairarapa, encouraging the audience to stop and think for a while about the wider world of Technology, how it is and could be utilized by all …equally.”
VUWWIT (Victoria University of Wellington Women in Tech) should be incredibly proud of the conference they organized and put together. It was an eye opener and gave us all a nudge to use our voices and power, big or small, to push for change for a more inclusive and diverse STEM industry.
Skip a few societal evolutionary periods. Today, we live in a world whereby we can always collect ready-made food, clothing, and other items from our local supermarket. The variety of goods available is high, the quality is high, and collecting the goods requires minimal effort. And, of course, we rely less on supermarket stores because everything can now be delivered to our door. The convenience of supermarkets and delivery services is made possible by a high-volume supply chain of farming, manufacturing, and logistics - which gathers, processes, and transports goods to local collection points (including our homes).
What’s all this got to do with APIs, you ask?
APIs have enabled huge advances in digital business in recent years and remain of strategic use. However, they are just one way of allowing access to data, and styles of integration are always evolving. Today, if your digital integration approach is overly focused on APIs, there is a risk that you’ll end up as a data hunter-gatherer, losing ground to competitors that have shifted to high-volume, high-convenience data access methods.
In API-led architectures, consumer systems can access data from remote systems. The ability for consumers to gather data from across a business’s enterprise architecture and far beyond is powerful. However, provider data can only be accessed in small quantities at a time, and the data is usually not stored in a consumer-friendly form, so transformation or processing is often required before consumption.
Although, in theory, API-led architectures allow access to data from far and wide, these architectures tend to result in high-effort data consumption, in terms of discovery, connectivity, and transformation of data into consumer-friendly forms. In practice, the volume and variety of data accessible to consumers tend to be low.
In distributed data architectures, APIs still exist, but data consumers don’t need to access remote systems which are spread far and wide. Data consumers simply access local stores which have been populated by events and other push mechanisms. Before being stored locally, the data is transformed (processed) into consumer-friendly, high-convenience forms. As well as providing greater consumer convenience, distributed data architectures are generally better suited at transporting higher volumes of data than traditional API-led architectures.
Distributed data architectures tend to result in high-power, low-effort data consumption, in terms of discovery, connectivity, and data transformation. However, this is, of course, reliant on having data supply chain infrastructure in place. With the appropriate infrastructure in place, the convenience, variety, and volume of data available for consumers tend to surpass those of API-led architectures.
So, think of all the goods available at supermarkets and those that are delivered to your door, and think about the supply chain that enabled such high convenience, choice, and volume of goods. Think about how hard life would be and the lack of choice you’d have if you had to gather resources from far and wide to create food and clothing. And then think of how your business is treating and transporting your data.
If your business is still heavily reliant on API hunter-gathering, it probably lacks the infrastructure required for a distributed data supply chain. Get in touch to discuss how IntegrationWorks can guide your business to build data supply chain infrastructure and guide your business on making the most strategic use of good old APIs.
The team at IntegrationWorks Australia, together with our valued partner MuleSoft, have been working alongside businesses in the country to articulate the value of integration in two categories. Those two categories include direct value (ie. known as platform benefits) and indirect value, such as business outcomes or operational efficiency. Articulating these benefits when trying to secure internal funding and project resources for integration can help business-oriented executives understand why integration matters, and in particular, API-led integration.
Over our fifteen year history, we have seen that IT leaders struggle with communicating the business value of integration. The MuleSoft survey found only 37% of CIOs have a well-defined IT investment process, including a business case template, to articulate value. Historically, there is a lack of practice and an absence of a widely accepted understanding of integration value, both directly and indirectly.
In this part two section of a three-part series, we will be discussing how to communicate the platform benefits of integration, which act as a direct improvement to the technology teams and wider business objectives.
Direct benefits of an integration platform or solution can fall into three categories – Build, Manage and Risk Reduction.
Build – Benefits of a solidly built integration platform and approach include fewer hours spent coding integrations, or specific API’s, or untangling spaghetti architecture. This also harnesses a reduction in risk as well as the human costs of on-boarding new hires.
Run – In busy run-time periods, platform benefits include fewer maintenance hours associated with integrations and APIs, fewer hours upgrading and updating integrations and APIs, and lower deploy and run costs of the accompanying integration hardware, software, and infrastructure.
Risk Reduction - Mitigating risk is a huge direct benefit of integration platform builds. Benefit areas include increased security and governance of endpoints and increased reliability, availability, and scalability of the integration platform and wider IT architecture. This can be felt across the entire business.
More importantly, business leaders are looking to understand the monetary value associated with these direct benefits. Using a fairly simple time and materials calculation, business leaders can calculate the direct monetary value of time saved. Simply combine a small set of inputs to represent the organization’s integration current state with expected improvements. These improvements can be based on actual successes seen elsewhere in the organization or benchmarks from third parties. An example is demonstrated here:
The average Australian enterprise, both public and private sector, now crosses around 35 different back end systems to retrieve and transfer information across a myriad of on-premise and cloud applications. To successfully transform, companies must untangle technical debt, the “spaghetti architecture” of IT systems that have organically grown over years of operations, and re-connect all of the applications, data and devices in a new and coherent way.
The business cost – both resource and financial – of these initiatives are very difficult to quantify and present to senior management or the CFO suite of the business. The team at IntegrationWorks Australia together with our partner MuleSoft, have successfully worked alongside many businesses to articulate the value of integration in two categories. These two categories include direct value (i.e. known as platform benefits) and indirect value, such as business outcomes or operational efficiency. Articulating these benefits when trying to secure internal funding and project resources for integration can help business-oriented executives understand why integration matters, and in particular, the huge business benefits of API-led integration.
In this three-part blog series, we’ll be highlighting the top blockers to organisational alignment, how to communicate the platform value and how to communicate the business value.
Although it seems quite logical to the average IT technical leader, it is often difficult to provide examples in a non-complex way on how integration creates value without articulating the full breadth of the impact of poorly integrated systems.
In our fifteen years of assisting businesses through integration change we’ve realised the common problems to communicating integration value, and thus successfully securing integration project funding. Business leadership is not aligned to the impact of integration and technology teams are not getting behind the change.
The recent MuleSoft study (as mentioned above) surveyed 650 IT leaders and found that although alignment between businesses and IT leadership is on an upward trajectory year on year, only 15% of organisations had a leadership approved API-led integration strategy. This suggests that businesses have not yet bought into the value of implementing and enhancing an integration strategy, let alone an API-led one.
The other problem lies at the heart of the technology engine room. Even when there is executive buy-in to adopt a new integration approach, some internal technology teams lack a view of the holistic value of the solution to their wider business. Often burdened with laborious and mundane tasks, these people see integration as another chore in their rapidly growing IT responsibility list and are hence slow to adopt or adapt.
Historically, enterprises have become accustomed to giving the IT teams orders instead of taking consultative advice from the technology specialists either externally or internally. This can create a harmful pyramid relationship, and an alternative dynamic is where business groups and their IT counterparts work together with a shared vision and set of performance or project milestones.
Lastly, the risks that Australian businesses and business leaders run if they don’t understand integration value is becoming larger. Instead of the perception of IT acting in a support capacity, IT can and should be an enabler of business value and innovation, allowing the business to operate faster, create greater value and increase competitive edge.
To learn more about how to communicate integration value to your business, stay tuned for our two upcoming blogs that discuss platform benefits and business outcome benefits.
As a CEO, I don't expect you to know of or care about Kafka, but I'll mention that it is a hot technology for digital businesses. Customers want to interact in real time, companies need real-time visibility, and Kafka is increasingly utilised to meet those demands. Many technologies do real-time data, but there aren’t many that can compete on high volumes, flexibility, and resiliency.
Andrew’s Meetup presentation covered how to use patterns to avoid chaos as the volumes of real-data rise rapidly in digital businesses. The technical audience asked great questions, they knew their stuff and were keen to learn more in the area of emerging practices and patterns so they could help their teams and their businesses to improve real-time digital business credentials. In a nutshell, the audience was engaged, constructive, and knowledgeable. But many were also incredibly FRUSTRATED. Why the frustration, I wondered? So I delved deeper.
Many of the Meetup audience members reported that the topic of the evening was at the leading edge for the businesses in which they work. But as much as the audience wanted to focus on the leading edge, their organisations were struggling with even the basic technology foundations of digital business. These conversations were backed up by an audience poll, which highlighted significant digital immaturities in many organisations. For example, about half of the audience worked in teams that had immature delivery automation. A few in the audience had ZERO delivery automation. Yes, you got it - everything their team does is manual (and therefore slow, costly, and of questionable quality). To have ZERO delivery automation in the year 2019 is a shocking position to be in.
So, at the Meetup, we had a tech-savvy audience, armed with the skills to improve delivery processes, and yet many had failed to convince their management to approve the automation of manual processes. They’d tried. I heard stories of repeated conversations on how automation would reduce labour costs, increase velocity, and increase quality. But management had not yet enabled them to act. So, what's going on?
A few years back, I may have been tempted to say that these technologists just needed to up their game in explaining the value and the path forward. However, here in 2019, I take a different view. It should not be down to technologists to push the delivery velocity (quality/cost) agenda. In 2019, managers should be demanding velocity improvements and enabling technology teams to act.
At IntegrationWorks we’ve been working with some excellent managerial teams recently – eager to get a competitive advantage by pushing the boundaries of delivery velocity and organisational flexibility – but there are still managers out there that are happy with zero automation and that are actively descoping velocity improvements.
“Isn’t automation a no-brainer?”, you may ask. “Why would anyone descope it?”’, you may ask. ‘Are my team descoping it?’, you may ask.
I’ll give you a couple of examples of how “no-brainer” improvements get blocked.
First, project managers are working to tight deadlines with limited budgets. For them, descoping the task that sharpens the axe is an all-too-easy decision.
Second, for managers that don’t understand digital delivery models, saying “no” to improvements is easy. Especially where there is little pressure from the business, or there are comfy levels of organisational inertia. All managers and teams are busy and working hard, so there’s no shame in just keep everyone chopping wood with blunt axes. There are more examples and reasons – a lot of them.
So, as CEO, you may want to reduce tech labour costs, deliver digital change at higher velocity, and increase quality. Your technology staff may want to too – and they may have the skills. But if you want help with the layers between you and your tech experts, we at IntegrationWorks put our hand up to help you and help focus your whole team. As one of our experts mentioned to me this week, “Managers and decision-makers don’t need to be tech experts, but those that understand technology mechanics are better able to drive digital improvements. We can help them to look under the hood and make sense of it. Once empowered, managers themselves are typically keen to learn and they get a lot out of what we do”.
To be candid, any successful cloud strategy relies wholly on integration – this isn’t just a spruik for our services. For any application in the cloud and for every cloud migration, organisations must migrate and preserve the functionality of each integration connecting to that application. Additionally, moving data to the cloud and back again requires preservation of integrations between the data hub and any downstream applications. This is far easier said than done, and often requires in-depth expertise in integration.
We all know that old technology is built in a monolithic fashion, with archaic project-based interfaces and integrations. The revolution of mobile, IoT and SaaS has shaken up the business landscape inherently, yet IT teams in most major enterprises are still turning to old and familiar ways of solving their integration problems via point-to-point integration. This quickly becomes risky and puts organisations into technical debt with reliance on knowledgeable resources.
To be precise, specific types of point-to-point integrations cannot be migrated from an on-premise to cloud environment without needing to be rewritten. For example, when database links are moved to the cloud, the host names and certificates need to be changed and the server tunnels need to be rebuilt. It’s unsurprising to our team when our clients blame “difficulties in deploying applications across cloud and on-premises” on point-to-point integration.
The result of using a point-to-point integration methodology results in tightly coupled and very fragile spaghetti architecture that makes it incredibly hard to innovate over time. To truly adopt cloud, organizations need to first modernize their on-premise applications, data repositories and services in a way that allows them to co-exist with cloud infrastructure and applications.
One small solution, and an area of expertise for us, is the enablement of a strong API strategy with the focus being the API’s acting as the broker between on-premise applications, cloud infrastructure services and SaaS applications. Modern API’s are more than just a simple code file – they are essential reusable building blocks that can level out data load, can be scaled and can switch on and off depending on market conditions.
Rather than creating spaghetti connectivity via your point-to-point integrations, an API-led strategy and implementation connects via a decoupled architecture. One of our customers, which is one of Australia and New Zealand’s largest banking and financial organisations, has implemented an API strategy designed by us to ease digital banking challenges and to meet growing customer demands. With their cloud-first adoption strategy, this client worked with us to build thousands of API’s that were deployed through their API repository to enable the uptake of digital services and connect their legacy data sets with new cloud infrastructure.
In a fast-moving business landscape that is customer centric and digitally driven, traditional organisations need to change and anticipate challenges of change. Organisations can achieve this by anticipating their digital transformation challenges and trends, with a key focus on integration solutions. It’s important to understand the business and technology reasons for change, and how to incorporate and integrate existing functions into that change. Our solution? Keep asking questions and get in touch with us for a quick whiteboard architecture consultation.
The big guys are the global brands like Deloitte and Accenture, the big outsourcers like TCS and HCL, and local providers such as Datacom in Australia and New Zealand. They are all successful and we look at them with a critical eye. What’s made them so successful? What’s led to their growth and ability to sustain large businesses? We have a lot to learn from them do our best to understand their business models, their strengths and weaknesses. They do a lot more than integration but do integration well and at scale. We know how to compete with them and carve out a niche for ourselves.
The little guys are interesting too. After all the big guys still see us as little guys. Firms like ours tend to be specialists, are technically led, often experts in one product and typically operate in a single location. The little guys are focused and good at what they do. We learn what we can from them and watch with interest. However, we’ve realised the restrictions that places on a business and made a conscious (and conspicuous) effort to break that mould. Again, we know how to compete with the little guys just as with the big guys.
So, the competitive landscape is pretty straight forward. Big international generalists with armies of good people and small boutique consultancies, again with good people. The gap in the market for us is as a medium sized specialist with awesome people, that’s our vision and were making good progress in fulfilling that. Case closed? Not quite, there is an even bigger competitor out there. They are pervasive and bigger than most of our competition. It’s not the software vendors themselves. They all have professional services teams, but we know how to compete (and collaborate) with them too.
The single biggest competitor to our business is our customers and potential customers. We started business in New Zealand where we have a Do it Yourself mentality. I’m a fixer just as was my father and his father before him. I can turn my hand to most things around my home. I’ve rebuilt car engines, built decks, replaced pumps, upgraded kilometres of farm fencing and tons of other things, mostly legally. I’m handy and adaptable and take pride in that.
At the same time, I’m every professional’s worst nightmare. The guy who’s first instinct is to do it myself even though it takes far longer, and the result is never quite as good. At a personal level that comes at a cost. Most weekends I have a list of things to do and they eventually get done. My wife has waited 4 years for me to reconfigure our laundry to double the bench space and generally make it far more functional. This Saturday I’ll finally finish the job and she will thank me for doing so. I might even thank her for her patience. Deep down we will both know that paying someone else to do the job 4 years ago would have been a far smarter decision and family harmony would have been enhanced.
It’s the same in our business. Our target market is full of people just like me. Smart, well intentioned people who can turn their hand to things and do it themselves. Yes, DIY is easily our biggest competition. But that comes at a price. Things just take longer; the result is never quite as good and the important people in your life suffer. I’ve got a very understanding and supportive wife. I hope the DIY people amongst you have very supportive employers.
Stop and think for a minute. If I’d simply got that builder in to sort out the laundry 4 years ago, I’d have that outdoor kitchen we both want more started. It wouldn’t be finished but it would be happening. Maybe this time I’ll ring that builder and just get that outdoor kitchen done in time for Easter and spend the time with my family.
The office, which is already filled, was officially opened last month by IntegrationWorks Australia Managing Director, Ian Richards and celebrated with an official office opening party. Moving forward the office space will be host to many industry developing group gatherings including Technology Lunch ‘n’ Learns, Integration Meetup Groups and Women in Tech events.
IntegrationWorks Australia has grown quickly across the country in the last five years, beginning with a team of two just five years ago and now currently sitting at 100+ staff in Australia and around the world.
“The new Brisbane office space demonstrates our long-term commitment to businesses and enterprises across the Eastern Seaboard who require specialist integration and middleware capabilities for their environments,” said Ian Richards.
With major enterprise projects running across Queensland government, Sydney private sector and Canberra government, Australian businesses are using IntegrationWorks technical, professional and architectural skill to enhance their enterprise connectivity whilst scaling via digital transformation.
Richards has ruled out solely operating in Brisbane only, and is set on managing engineering and architectural teams across the major business centres in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.
“At this stage we’re focused on Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra given our existing specialist expertise in these markets. Moving forward, we’ll be approaching Melbourne and solidifying our teams and presence in other cities,” comments Richards.
IntegrationWorks is just a number of major global technology companies that are investing in Brisbane, and the wider Eastern Seaboard. Originally a New Zealand based business, now with offices across Australia and the United Kingdom, IntegrationWorks global was attracted to the Australian markets healthy information technology investment climate, and wealth of technology talent.
“We’re growing fast and working hard to increase our numbers to become Australia’s number one technology integration service provider across a vendor agnostic environment. We plan with that, to contribute to strong job growth and skills uplift across these major cities,” concludes Richards.
We’re in the tech business, so we’re far from impressive on many types of diversity, but one area we’re getting better at as we grow is to better balance our high ratio of senior experts with a greater number of new industry entrants. In recent years we’ve taken on interns, fresh out of university and full of energy and enthusiasm and bringing new ideas and valuable viewpoints.
Our recent Auckland and Wellington interns were hired through the awesome Summer of Tech programme. This year, 1505 candidates chased 210 internships across New Zealand. Successful interns received offers following an intense few weeks of online job matching, a meet and greet, speed interviews, and office visits. An uphill battle for sure. Especially given that this all occurred near exam time. And, of course, the real hard work started on day one of the 10-week internship.
In the words of one of our talented interns, Phillip Liu, “The internship was a rollercoaster ride - in a good sense. We were presented with a large backlog of diverse tasks and an unexpected amount of flexibility to work on areas in which we had the most interest. This initially equated to confusion and questions. However, shortly after, we began to understand things better and were able to get the wheels rolling, and boy did they roll. We were able to pursue interests such as creating a data classification solution using machine learning, creating the employee directory that is now used by IntegrationWorks across the globe, self-paced training on multiple integration technologies, attending formal classroom architecture training to expand our horizons far beyond typical internship code development, making integration demos for IntegrationWorks teams around the globe. We even had opportunities to deliver for clients on site as part of IntegrationWorks delivery teams which was absolutely awesome having come from no previous tech work experience. However, these tasks themselves do not represent the amount of learning and experience we gained from the internship. The number of soft skills acquired and understanding of how a business works were immense, it is difficult to put into words what was gained.”
I am pleased to say that our interns have now joined our team permanently. While this year’s interns were joining permanently, Adam Faulkner, one of our team who joined following last year’s internship, said goodbye to his fellow Kiwis as he jetted off to London to join our United Kingdom team. Adam has been a shining star of the New Zealand team in a year of significant growth for IntegrationWorks. He’ll be a great asset to the UK business, which is only a couple of years old but is now the largest and fastest growing IntegrationWorks geography. Despite the goodbyes, we’re a global business and well versed in multi-geography delivery and collaboration, so, regardless of location, Adam is not far from his Kiwi colleagues.
As Adam jetted off to begin a new stage of life in London, he shared this with IntegrationWorkers, “I am constantly learning new things and being challenged but, most importantly, I really enjoy all the people that I work with day to day and the people I am surrounded by.” As one of the more senior members of the team, I echo Adam’s words.
Before I continue, I have an admission to make. In my career I’ve been the “Pet” Consultant, the one who was around for more than a year guiding a customer to the outcomes they wanted. Those engagements were successful but there was always an elephant in the room. Could I deliver the value I provided in month one, in month twelve and beyond? Had I outlived my welcome? Should I be an employee of the Client and develop my career within their walls? Eventually I moved on and as my consulting career developed, the length of my engagements shortened. I focused on starting the journey, building teams to deliver on the promise and keeping the client on track.
I’ve been reminded of this in recent weeks. Two separate clients have had long term engagement with two of our most talented people. In both cases they have been working together for well over a year. The pleasing thing is that the feedback from both these clients has been exceptional (and unsolicited). From a revenue and management perspective those engagements look like the epitome of success. But scratch the surface and some inconvenient truths emerge.
As an organisation we pride ourselves on engagement and teamwork. In the case of two of our most talented people we are struggling to stay engaged with them. They have been so immersed in their respective clients that they don’t engage with the rest of the team here at IntegrationWorks. Our most talented aren’t helping to develop and mentor others and they aren’t soaking up the knowledge and experiences of their colleagues. To us that’s not a success, it’s failure. And that’s not something we’re prepared to stand by and watch, it’s bad for our business and we need to ensure we don’t take the lazy option.
That’s a big problem for the staff members concerned. They are out of sight and out of mind. They miss out on new opportunities and don’t get the investment from their employer they deserve. Sure, they enjoy the engagement with the client and the praise they receive. But they look on in envy at their colleagues who are more engaged with their employer and wonder why others are advancing their careers at a greater pace. IntegrationWorks provides a great environment in which to learn and grow, and some of our best people don’t always get the benefit of that.
So why should any of this concern the customer? After all, they pay a good price for the best people, people they can’t attract on the open market. What’s wrong with keeping great people engaged for extended periods of time? Isn’t it valuable to have people who know our business inside out? Haven’t we invested in that person and don’t we have the right to leverage that knowledge? Those are all valid points, but we believe there is more to consider and that ultimately long-term engagements with individuals rather than our team as a whole is bad for your business too.
Let’s start with the “run over by a bus” scenario. Ironically, one of our staff was run over by a bus (thankfully he has had a full recovery and is back working for us in London) so we know of the impact of sudden departures. Keeping all your IP in one head is dangerous. Our inability to give our “Pet” Consultants a variety of experiences means it’s harder for us to hold on to good people and that puts clients at risk too. Next consider the fact that your pet consultant isn’t getting a range of other experiences to bring to the table. You, like them, miss out on the full experience of IntegrationWorks as an organisation. By hanging onto the person who is perfect for you, your experience is limited too.
So, we encourage our customers to look beyond the great person we’ve provided, look beyond a simple body-shopping arrangement and embrace a different approach. A great team is more than any great individual, rotation works for the All Blacks, the Red Sox and Manchester City (perhaps not the Australian Government). It works for us, our staff and our customers. When we move someone around, they aren’t lost to you forever, they’ve gone to gain other experience and come back even stronger. They remain part of our team and available to you when you really need them.
The best iPaaS solutions include easy, graphical tools that provide a centralised view to manage, govern, and integrate your cloud-based applications.
“Commonly referred to as a ‘cloud integration platform’, an iPaaS can provide a range of functionality, from infrastructure and data warehousing, to application design and DevOps environments. And as organisations across the globe continue their digital transformations to a more cloud-based infrastructure, the right iPaaS solution can significantly reduce the complexity in the integration of data, applications, security, and business compliance,” comments IntegrationWorks Australia Managing Director, Ian Richards.
The right iPaaS provider is the key to successfully adopting cloud technologies in any business, and IntegrationWorks partner with all major integration technology vendors offering varying levels of iPaaS technology.
“The industry leading iPaaS solutions contain a mixture of tools and services built into a service oriented architecture (SOA), where infrastructure, software, data, and other operations interact in a responsive ecosystem, and all contained on a single dashboard for easy management. Being vendor agnostic specialists, we are able to identify the best technology offering for the problem, in terms of functionality and cost,” says Richards.
iPaaS AND MULTITENANCY
In earlier cloud design models, a single instance of a running software application was deployed each time a customer or tenant required interaction. Previously, if a thousand customers interacted with an environment at once, a thousand software instances accommodated them.
iPaaS simplifies software multitenancy, allowing a single instance of software running on a server and serving multiple tenants.
This single instance also provides a single point where you can make updates and changes, eliminating the need for painful enterprise rollouts.
Did iPaaS kill the ESB?
Like iPaaS, Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) systems provide a layer of middleware used to manage and share data across the enterprise. ESB solutions can exist on premise, in the cloud or in a hybrid model, supporting internal and external integrations.
However, there is industry contention about how much better iPaaS is over the traditional ESB. There are a number of key differences between iPaaS and ESB systems. Some of these include:
“IPaaS is a game changer for most major enterprises. And it’s not new news – but for most organisations who are struggling with cloud adoption and cloud integration right now, they’re trying to find the right partner and tools for a growing scope of cloud use.” concludes Richards.
Richards recommends looking for these four key features of an iPaaS technology before deciding:
1. Easy to manage virtual infrastructure: The top iPaaS providers integrate seamlessly with locally hosted virtual architecture, or with industry leading cloud platforms like AWS and Microsoft Azure.
2. Data warehousing and integration: The chosen platform should be able to share data in near real-time with applications, data stores, and more. This enables organisations to have access to information and intelligence to support decision making.
3. Application development and continuous delivery: An iPaaS solution should allow dev teams to develop internally or rely on cloud tools to design, integrate, and deliver applications across the enterprise.
4. Security: The right iPaaS solution offers critical business security like fraud detection and real-time intruder alerts and response. Executing mandatory audits and maintaining visibility over threats on iPaaS-provided interfaces significantly reduces the workload from internal IT experts.
In the last few years we’ve rapidly increased our partnerships, and today we deal with most if not all of the world’s leading Integration vendors. And we’ve been successful in maintaining positive relationships with most if not all of those vendors. We’ve worked hard to ensure our integration specialists understand the strengths of the products and have the ability to be proficient in a specific technology in a short timeframe. Our philosophy is that most of the products in the market have strengths and we need to be able to leverage those quickly and effectively to deliver value to our customers. When a new technology appears on our radar, we embrace it, understand its strengths and look to adopt it where its relevant to our customers.
This flies in the face of traditional wisdom that applies to most of our competitors who focus on being specialists in one specific technology. We are seeing a few of them drift from one technology to another as market demand changes. For us being agnostic is a way of life, adopting the right tool for the right job is second nature to us. We wouldn’t use a band saw to cut mitre joints when we have a specific tool for the job. We don’t try and take vendor products and make them do things they aren’t designed for. Like any good tradesman, we select the best tool for the job and get on with it.
Consider a world in which acquisitions and divestments are commonplace. Today’s independent Integration vendor is tomorrows bit player in a larger applications vendor. We move quickly from a state of certainty to one of unexpected change. Vendor relationships change, product direction changes, commitment’s change. Being agnostic gives us the ability to adapt quickly to change, keep calm and carry on.
The world has changed. 15 years ago, technology was selected, and people were hired to work with that for extended periods. Depth of knowledge and experience were essential currencies in a world where change wasn’t the norm. Today 10 years’ experience in one product is no longer of much value. We need to bring an open mind and acknowledge that there is a ton of great technology out there. Our ability to pivot and work with whatever technology is right for a given customer and requirement is a key component of our success. There are others, and we’ll talk about those in the months to come.
So, to all our valued partners, we appreciate your support and ongoing understanding. More importantly, we understand your frustration with our approach. Let’s keep the dialogue going and work together to make your products sing and provide fantastic value to our mutual customers. It’s time we said it. “We’re agnostic, and we’re proud of that.”
To our past, present and future customers, if you want the best from your integration technology investment talk to us. We are Integration Specialists first and foremost and can help you make the right choices and get the best return on investment. That’s all we do. When it comes to Integration “We’re agnostic, and we’re proud of that.”