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The benefits of Hybrid IT are definitely game-changing, but there are many challenges to overcome on its implementation path. Organizations need to be armed with the right approach for tackling the challenges of Hybrid IT. A solution for integrating cloud and on-premise applications need to be comprehensive, industry proven, sustainable and easy to use. A recent approach that effectively bridges the great divide between cloud and on-premise systems is Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS).
As compared to traditional hybrid integration architectures like an Enterprise service bus (ESB) and Point to Point Integration, iPaaS takes care of overwhelming LOB specific needs without heavy IT implementation. This approach is feature rich, secure, easy to use and also covers several scalability requirements.
However, businesses must exercise forward thinking for implementing an iPaaS framework. They should clear the ground by filling the knowledge gaps (prevailing in the Hybrid IT environment) and ensuring interoperability in the overall IT surface area.
The IT systems of an organization are generally spread across different physical and virtual locations. The IT is generally composed of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), middleware popularly known as Platform as a service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and legacy systems. Apart from this, there are systems of external vendors that need access. Therefore, an integrated model should cover the surface area of all the dimensions. The architectural pattern must enable business teams in integrating or removing systems, adding suppliers, automating processes, onboarding customers, and data transformation initiatives in simple steps.
Refer this checklist for seamlessly integrating the hybrid environment with an iPaaS framework.
Checklist for Integrating a Hybrid IT Environment
This checklist will help in ensuring that a hybrid integration model you select will maintain data integrity and secured governance at all times. Moreover, these guidelines will also enable the Line-of-Business (LOB) in meeting overwhelming business needs, and creating innovative breakthroughs to accommodate technological changes.
Identify Distinct Needs of Line of Business: The process begins with identifying the sum total of mission critical systems, users and IT assets that need to be integrated. Next, the business teams should define connections (between systems and processes), API needs, etc. The stakeholders should imagine how a system connects with external partners to complete business transactions and meet business needs. A best practice is to prepare a detailed list of source and target applications (cloud based and on-premise). This will give a clear picture whether the platform has the right tool set and capabilities to accelerate productivity.
Secure Data Exchange: There are many factors that threaten the electronic data interchange in a hybrid IT environment. Running applications in one data center, without redundancy measures in place, causes frequent outages. In such scenarios, adhering to compliances (Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, PIPA, etc.) and regulations becomes an uphill task.
A tougher security management triggers for access management, user authentication should be in place for private, public cloud and on-premise systems. Better is to integrate hybrid IT security protocols as well: Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), redundancy measures, firewall (for encrypting web server and browser), etc. Experts recommend businesses to envisage a layered security strategy to prevent data breaches.
Relevant Questions that need to be answered
- How safe my data will be?
- Who has access to my data?
- What compliances do I need to follow?
Defining Home Ranges: Before integrating a Hybrid environment, it is important to explicitly define "home ranges (the area where a component is going to travel)." The home range requirement differs from organization to organization. Some organizations want their applications to run anywhere in the cloud whereas some confine their applications for internal and audit purposes. Next, the applications shall be deployed on these home ranges and policies should be enforced accordingly.
Load Balancing: It is quintessential to identify the load balancing requirement of every cloud and non-cloud application/component. Load balancing is the process of using a reverse proxy device to identify workload distribution across computing systems and accordingly scaling the network or application traffic across different servers. This process helps in dealing with fluctuating workload requirements of applications. A leading technology example in this context is "Layer 3 switching.”
Carry Tools for Public API Exposure: Public APIs has become the new status quo nowadays. APIs are published to introduce new business channels and accommodate changes in a swift and nimble way. Today’s businesses need broader capabilities for enhanced traffic management through to allow external developers in subscribing to APIs. Necessary tools required for public API exposure are a digital portal (for API subscription), security models (OAuth), threat protection, feedback system, community support, and analytics.
Data Format and Data Mapping: Converting data held in internal and siloed data center and different formats become the next big challenge for businesses. Therefore, companies should have powerful data conversion and mapping capabilities. The data-centric requirements must be evaluated on the basis of users, clients, transactions, compliances, business operations, etc. Prominent data conversion requirements include:
- Flat file to XML
- XML to CSV
- Any Database to XML
- XML to EDI
- HIPAA to XML
- HL7 to XML
Selecting an Advanced Hybrid Integration Model
An advanced model strategically positions an organization to simplify critical integration and API gateway enablement operations with minimal coding.
Partner Enablement: A platform should carry advanced modular programming approach called Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). The SOA architecture empowers business users, stakeholders, and partners in making delicate calibrations to the service line and moving business towards the stream of opportunities. This provides a strategic solution that simplifies business critical operations like customer data onboarding, partner management, supplier onboarding, etc.
A system should connect a mix of systems and protect legacy apps with a service layer to provide safe access to classified information and leverage new applications. The framework should enable business user to monitor the data and decide whether it stays on-premise or travels on the cloud.
Regulatory Compliance: The integration framework should enable businesses to align LOB operations in meeting the regulatory compliances like HIPAA, PIPA, Sarbanes Oxley, etc. The platform should empower business users to set business rules in the system.
Faster Deployment: A platform should encircle every on-premise and cloud component and enable businesses to move faster. This motivates the team to foster new ways of working and accelerate the pace of deployment.
Zero Coding: An advanced platform should pack ‘One-to-Many approach’ for replacing the manual hand coding approach to fix connections between thousands of applications. With only one ‘Shared Connection’ the solution must enable users to setup connection between different systems, service and processes.
Hybrid IT, a complex mix of cloud and non-cloud applications, spawns distinct scenarios where applications don’t function with each other. To confront such scenarios, a Unified Model (UM) is needed to align and interconnect systems with each other. iPaaS is an emerging model in this context is hybrid IT integration. However, businesses must prepare a checklist before embracing the Integration model for efficiently integrating the set pieces of hybrid ecosystem. The checklist will provide a robust support to the integration model and help organizations in making the most out of their investment.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.