Checking the sticker on a hybrid vehicle.When I first heard this term, I wondered what was meant by hybrid integration. Seems to me that you either integrate or you don’t.

Perhaps it is an attempt to merge data and application integration with social media, business-to-business, mobile, API and Cloud integration technologies. Just sounds like integration to me. In a previous post I discussed how Cloud is Erasing the Line Between App and Data Integration. Perhaps Hybrid is what they are calling this new world of integration, which is still just integration.

Hybrid integration does make some sense if you compare it to hybrid vehicles. A hybrid vehicle runs primarily on electricity, but it has a small gas powered generator to keep the batteries charged and provide additional power when needed. So two different power sources were put into one car. Perhaps hybrid integration represents putting many integration “engines” together to make the best use of multiple integration “power” types depending on the requirements.

Indeed, we have seen some integration software vendors combining their data and application integration capabilities on the same platform, or providing the ability to move their integration “engine” across platforms. Informatica has done this with their Vibe data integration engine. Write once, run anywhere integration. Other vendors such as Actian, allowing integration logic that has been created on-premise to be easily ported to their DataCloud platform. MuleSoft is offering a similar capability between their on-premise and Cloud offerings.

In other words Hybrid integration is saying you don’t need on-premise OR Cloud integration; data OR application integration: you can have both, wherever you want or need to deploy them. Or maybe it’s a foreshadowing of what many of us have been saying: In the future there won’t be on-premise or Cloud computing, it will just be computing. Cloud is simply another layer that organizations will have in the architecture.

Integration software vendors have also been notorious for having too many products, each with its own purpose and price tag. It’s not unlike going to the dealership only to discover the base model doesn’t have all the options you want, and optional equipment is added to the vehicle to meet your needs. Either way, the price goes up, and the purchasing process becomes complicated.

Fortunately, some integration software vendors are starting to change this scenario. Last week Informatica released version 9.6 of their data integration and data quality platforms. In addition to new capabilities, they have also simplified their licensing. Many of the stand-alone products that used to inflate the price, and make implementation more complicated have been rolled into core offerings. Yes there are still multiple editions but they are now being packaged according to customer maturity and requirements. Yes there are still “add-ons” for additional capabilities but now there are only a few where there used to be many. Hopefully other vendors will follow suit and simplify their licensing.

So next time you go shopping for “hybrids”, take a closer look at the window sticker to see if options have inflated the price tag. And then take a closer look at the fuel economy ratings to make sure it is worth the haggling that may be required to get the deal you want!

Related Info-Tech projects and reports:

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167323951The line between Data Integration and Application Integration is no longer fuzzy – it has finally vaporized in the Cloud; fitting.

The emergence of the Cloud, including SaaS, IaaS, and growing PaaS adoption, has brought with it standardized interfaces at the application layer, otherwise known as APIs. Traditional integration vendors that have identified their products with Data or Application integration are no longer making that distinction in the Cloud; they are simply talking about integration. The line is disappearing as the Platform-as-a-Service war heats up.

Informatica, a vendor associated with Data Integration in the on-premise world just released its next version of Informatica Cloud, Winter 2014, which is delivering new process, service, and data integration in one package into the Cloud. Process integration, including human-centric workflows are part of the Winter 2014 release, as is industry standard service integration of RESTful and Web Services APIs. Informatica has also announced new ERP adapters, which will unlock back office ERP data for Cloud consumption.

The Informatica Cloud leverages its unique Vibe “map once, run anywhere” virtual data machine, allowing integration mappings to move between the Cloud and on-premise without the need for code changes. Informatica didn’t leave their jewels on the ground: they brought their data quality and profiling capabilities into the Cloud as well. Sounds like a comprehensive data and integration platform-as-a-service.

Pervasive, now owned by Actian, dropped the data integration moniker a while ago, and now likes to simply think of themselves as integration solution providers. Actian’s new “Invisible Integration” capabilities allows for easy integration construction in the Cloud between standard APIs.

This week at Dreamforce, Salesforce1 was announced. Salesforce has brought their multiple PaaS offerings under “1” platform, to create a unified platform that will allow for the creation of next generation apps using new APIs and advanced capabilities of integration with apps, data, processes, devices, and social networks. Salesforce, a successful product and company that was born in the Cloud, continues to build out their offerings and is making the move to expand their PaaS offerings.

IBM’s acquisition of SoftLayer and recent understanding of the importance of the public Cloud (guess they finally saw the light?), coupled with IBM’s software business’ focus on platform will put pressure on the PaaS market for new, unique, and innovative integration solutions in the Cloud.

Any discussion about the Cloud wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Amazon Web Services. Once primarily an IaaS vendor, AWS, which has always supported open standard APIs, now offers data warehousing, data integration, service integration, simple workflow, and messaging services. AWS is increasingly becoming more of a PaaS provider than ever before.

Why are we seeing these trends? Cloud is big, Cloud is hot, Cloud has been a growth area for many vendors; higher growth than what they are experiencing with on-premise offerings. Growth areas get investment money. Investment money seeds new projects, products, and innovations. Vendors stay competitive.

So I wonder when the line between Application and Data Integration is going to disappear on-premise. Maybe when the apps do.

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Mobile phone

There’s no shortage of links and opinions in the blogosphere about how mobile development is critical to your business – come on, we’ve even coined the phrase “Mobile First Development.” Here we go. Let’s embrace a new era in development where mobile is king, desktop is gone, and life works as it was meant to be, right? Not so fast.

The reality is we have legacy applications that drive critical business processes. We have years of experience developing for these “legacy” platforms. We’ve invested time in training, tools, and best practices. Mobile is still young (granted, the velocity of innovation is incredible). Can anyone say we’ve got enough knowledge across the industry to establish sound patterns for mobile enterprise development? Surely you’re not planning to use a consumer-based mobile development model to drive our mobile enterprise strategy. So what now? In a word – pivot. More on that later.

In a manner of speaking, mobile devices are superset devices. They are able to browse websites just like desktops can (I’ll steer clear of the elastic UI discussion to keep us from getting too far off topic). But they also offer more in terms of hardware capabilities that are well-suited to a mobile experience. So there you have it – mobile is just a container that you can use to send and receive information using a web or a native footprint.

As a business, you ought to be thinking about how you can get into mobile with some bottom line in mind. You should be considering how your existing assets (yes, those “legacy” ones) can be repurposed for mobile. Forget the hype around consumer apps. You’re a business. Think this through. Do you absolutely need the hardware capabilities on the device? If not, why go native? Pivot off your existing web development into mobile. If you need native, pivot your web development for the mid and back tiers while providing native hardware capabilities at the UI level. Yes, web services still work on mobile (just set up an appropriate sync cycle for mobile to accommodate the on/off mobile network state).

If you’re headed down the mobile web path, start thinking in terms of horizontal UI, cross form-factor functional testing, and load testing. If you’re considering native app, then don’t forget about feature parity across devices, deployment fragmentation, and support for older apps.

Bottom line is mobile should be embraced by leveraging what you already know. Stop buying into the hype around one, two, click, and app. Instead think strategically and responsibly about future maintenance, augmentation, and quality.

For more information about developing your mobile app program, see Info-Tech’s recent solution set Build a Capable Mobile Program without the Confusion and Frustration.

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There has been a lot of buzz of a new concept emerging in the network community– software defined networking (SDN). SDN is glamorized as the network’s latest push towards a more streamlined and cost-efficient solution compared to the physical infrastructure currently dominating the floors of IT departments. Promoters are trumpeting this advancement as an innovation marvel; much like virtualization was to servers. In fact, a key component of SDN is bringing networks to a virtual environment. Despite the hype of SDN giving it much notability, many are still confused about the underlying concept of SDN, the possible complications, and the business value of having an SDN network. Visit Info-Tech’s solution set Prepare for Software Defined Networking (SDN) to guide you through fact and fiction.

SDN is essentially a network architecture where the management, mapping, and control of traffic flow is removed from network devices, and centralized in the network. This separation is said to increase performance, network visibility, and simplicity given it is constructed correctly. However, given SDN’s infancy, a sufficient number of use cases and proof-of-concepts have yet to emerge in the SDN space, leaving organizations wondering if there is any revenue generating or cost saving opportunities. How can they make a sound decision on SDN? It may be too early to make a final decision, but they can start crafting the case and investigate the early movers in the SDN space.

Be prepared to see a shift in networking paradigms because of SDN: hardware to software, physical to virtual, propriety to commodity. Naturally, this will throw off traditional networking staff from their game. But, do not worry, current SDN solutions are still in “Version 1” and future versions may see solutions become friendlier to traditional network practices and concepts. With the attention it is getting from the media and established network leaders, SDN technologies will likely (and hopefully) evolve to mainstream deployment states.

Realize SDN is here. Understand where it came from and how it can help your business. Remember to wait for the SDN space to settle and mature before implementing SDN in your organization. After all, you wouldn’t want your child driving your multi-million dollar car.

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Agile ALM imageAs development platforms, coding methodologies, and devices proliferate, Agile ALM tools support integrations with an ever-increasing range of systems.

Long-standing vendors in the Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) space can trace their roots to the 1980s, or even earlier. Since the 1990s, ALM tools have played a key part in the project manager’s arsenal, allowing him or her to track project status and progress towards objectives.

Managers have paid top dollar for ALM suites that could track project data and provide meaningful reporting. However, as development environments have evolved, the tools and components being used to manage this process have grown to become integrated and convenient, covering all phases of the development lifecycle including architecture, testing, and deployment with a single common interface.

Process flexibility has become key. Instead of a strict adherence to Agile or waterfall development, most firms have pursued a middle path and customized their methodology to meet their own needs. Some Agile ALM tools cater to the need for flexibility.

Quality control has become a core part of ALM. Several major ALM tools are built around testing tools and process maturity.

Going forward, expect stronger integration between ALM tools and the ecosystem of products supporting development, such as testing, PLM tools and IDEs.

For more information, please see Info-Tech’s recently released solution set on selecting an Agile ALM vendor.

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