If there’s one word that almost invariably accompanies any discussion of data integration, it must surely be ‘seamless’.
This idea of ‘seamless data integration’ suggests a happy state where data can be connected regardless of shape, size, schema design, time-stamp values and level of structure (or indeed unstructured-ness).
But in a world populated by Internet of Things (IoT) devices and the networks that underpin them, seamless integration also appears to take on an almost geospatial relevance.
Data just went geospatial
Seamless IoT data connectivity means we need to achieve information integration, regardless of the size of the IoT device producing that data and regardless of its distance from the data source. We also need integration to be relatively easy, regardless of the technical limitations of the users touching that data.
Maurizio Canton, CTO for the EMEA region at TIBCO Software, says that the process has taken a while, but with IoT connectivity fueling the fire, data integration is undergoing a significant evolution. The days of ‘quick fix’, point-to-point connections, where all processes took place exclusively on-premises, already seems a distant memory.
TIBCO (which stands for The Information Bus Company) describes itself as a provider of infrastructure software for event-enabled enterprises. These ‘events’ aren’t staff parties or monthly meetings, they are data events and they form the lifeblood of the IoT.
The Integration Spectrum
The following text has been contributed by TIBCO’s Maurizio Canton.
Faced with the challenge of combining multiple applications in environments driven by the IoT, the cloud and more collaborative ways of working, integration has become a broader concern across the business, as well as a higher profile component of any organization’s broader digital strategy.
While the goal of extrapolating optimum value from the data has always been a constant, the parameters have shifted with a deeper realization that true integration cannot happen in pockets or in any kind of isolation. Instead, every facet of operations – from people to processes and applications – must now fuse together in one seamless ecosystem.
We call this the ‘Integration Spectrum’. Only by adopting an entirely holistic approach can we ensure the kind of seamless and efficient control of the data flow needed to glean optimal value. From gaining real-time insight, learning from the past, and harnessing the predictive analytic capabilities to inform the future, we can then augment this business intelligence with human insight, a powerful union which fosters true digital transformation.
From the business core to the IoT edge
Establishing this foundation becomes a prerequisite for modern business architecture that must continually innovate to meet growing customer expectations. Delivering agile, ‘anytime, everywhere’ service increasingly means incorporating mobile and social platforms within the hybrid cloud environment and widening the focus from the business core to the edge of the network, where up to 40 percent of IoT-created data will be stored, processed and analysed by 2019, according to global research company IDC.
As businesses contend with the explosion in IoT connectivity needs, pushing data storage and processing to the most remote part of the network enhances agility and security by slashing the time data spends travelling across the network bandwidth.
Furthermore, by making available architecture choices more nuanced, localizing certain kinds of analysis and decision-making and lowering operational costs, the edge is unlocking even more opportunity, while empowering the end user.
Heightened complexity, justified apprehension
However, as figures from a recent Gartner survey suggest, this potential comes with heightened complexity and justified apprehension.
- According to 43% of respondents, integration represents one of their top three technical challenges when it comes to progressing IoT projects.
- Furthermore, by 2018, half the cost of implementing IoT solutions will be spent on integration in bid to address the prevailing concerns of latency, connectivity and security.
With blockchain and artificial intelligence added to the mix, the challenge of keeping everything interconnected against this backdrop demands a flexible, tailored hybrid approach, the antithesis of the one size fits all approach which historically often defined a company’s integration strategy.
What may have sufficed when dealing with data that resides only within the firewall will inevitably fall short when it comes to the challenge of handling real-time, API-driven and customized integration.
Savvy CIOs recognize that getting this right is critical to delivery of personalized and engaging digital experiences and, as such, are turning to flexible insight platforms that can integrate the various technologies accordingly to manage and analyse data and then integrate the derived insights into business action.
Looking deeper, these same insight platforms can be harnessed to develop solutions populated with data from across the enterprise and equipped with the necessary agility to ensure continuous integration of new features and services.
The accessibility of such platforms is vital when it comes to the growing push for organization-wide empowerment, equipping a broader section of people with the right tools so they have the means to make smart decisions and can react quickly to new requirements.
In this sense, we see how the development of integration architecture is also evolving workplace culture and ways of working by overcoming the siloed approaches of yesteryear with a more inclusive approach; an approach where initiatives are no longer the sole preserve of technical experts but are also driven from the business side of the enterprise – which defines the true integration of people and process.