Connext 6 min

The Portfolio Approach to Integration

Four strategies for your Integration setup

RZW pasfoto 2020
Ruben van der Zwan
CEO & Co-Founder
The Portfolio Approach to Integration

No longer is there a need for businesses to have expensive, resource-heavy, separate on-premise integration solutions. The rise of Integration Platforms as-a-Service (iPaaS) is paving the way for an abundance of possibilities. On top of that, hybrid integrations are offering businesses new agile strategies that support the combining of multi-cloud with on-premise solutions. And if you are aiming to lead the way in your industry it requires a multi-faceted approach. The Portfolio Approach.

Finding the right approach

A portfolio approach means to have the ability to choose the right integration(s) according to a defined set of strategies. And when it comes to your integration needs there are numerous strategies to apply. That doesn’t mean that you should go with the whole range. After all, integration solutions are costly. They affect your business, your teams, and the direction your company steers towards.

However, you might do well to explore multiple options. Because a single approach also curbs your ability to remain agile and address the right challenge with the right solution. 

Furthermore, if a certain chosen approach doesn’t give the desired results, it will be a costly process to implement a completely new and undiscovered integration strategy. When instead you are able to tap into a portfolio of multiple integration possibilities you remain flexible and competitive. 

For instance, in our earlier post on Hybrid Integration Platforms we showed how some integration needs are well-suited to be kept on premise while others can be implemented according to your cloud-based and outsourcing strategy.

When talking about a portfolio approach there is also a distinction to be made of internally managed integrations and externally managed integrations. Do you choose to handle the complete technology stack and architecture yourself? Meaning the Enterprise (EA), Solution (SA), and Technological Architecture (TA) combined? Or do you outsource parts and solutions that currently do not fit in your scope of resources. 

Possible Strategies for Integration

When discussing possible integration strategies, it’s important to distinguish between vendor-based approaches and developer-based approaches. For ease of use you could say that vendor-based integration approaches are externally managed and developer-based are internally managed – though in practice these can be grey areas. Here, we’ll take a deeper look at the four main approaches to integration.

Vendor-based approach: Integration-as a-Service (IaaS)

An Integration-as-a-Service provider is a third party provider (TPP) who creates and deploys integrations on behalf of you or your customers. As a cost and time reducing practice, IaaS in general will have pre-built common frameworks and apply these to your customized integration needs. For most organizations, creating and managing connections is either too expensive and/or too complicated. An IaaS takes that problem away.

One clear cut advantage for using IaaS vendors is that they often have a particular specialization in an industry, product or set of integration solutions and know precisely how to manage your challenges. Since it’s an Integration-as-a-Service, payment is flexible depending on your business needs and you generally pay for the whole platform if you like to be in control or per integration if you leave it up to the vendor to manage the solution for you. 

An inconvenience with SIs is that you have to be particular about your desired integration solutions. Working with one SI vendor makes you vulnerable as they might not hold all the answers to your business (or are aware of potential growth opportunities). Finding a suitable one can be a slow process, let alone when you need a whole range of different vendors to address all your integration needs.

However, Yenlo’s Connext Go! IaaS solution is designed specifically to handle a wide range of integrations as you can count on 24/7 complete mitigation. Yenlo-experts take care of the development, management, infrastructure, and support. It’s based on WSO2 open-source technology meaning you have a full range of integration possibilities. Next to WSO2 for API management and Integration (microservices and ESB) the Connext Go! IaaS solution also supports Kafka and message queues for the more streaming integration patterns. 

Vendor-based approach: Integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS)

When it comes to an agile, customizable, and scalable cloud-based solution to integration, the iPaaS reigns supreme. An integration Platform-as-a-Service is a one-stop-shop for all your integration needs. Oftentimes, you can go for a modular approach where you pick and choose the technological solutions applicable to your company. Or you allow the vendor to help you determine, set up, and implement all your integrations for you.

A major advantage for choosing an iPaaS is that all your integrations are housed in one simple to use platform. One that, like Yenlo’s Connext Platform, is fully managed, hosted, cloud-based, and can scale and move according to your market demand, third-party application providers, or your own business needs. Meaning you can be as hands-on or hands-off as you want.

A less favourable side to iPaaS solutions is that the cost of ownership varies greatly per vendor. With some vendors you have to pay for a Proof of Concept, while others like the WSO2-based iPaaS from Yenlo provides an open-source solution that you can try out first.

Developer-based approach: Proprietary integration framework

Developer-based approaches mean that you make use of the development team and expertise you have within your company (or outsource) to build and deploy your own integration solutions. 

If you decide to mostly rely on your own ability to build integrations then it’s best to build an integration infrastructure. Or in other words a proprietary integration framework. This is a strategy applicable for when you need multiple bespoke integration options that are in some way reusable per customer or use case.

One of the reasons why you would choose a proprietary integration framework is when you prefer to keep everything in-house. The advantage here is that you have full ownership over your own integrations. The costs are mostly incorporated in the operational resources allocated to build the framework.

A downside to the proprietary integration framework is the upkeep. Your integrations now solely rely on the teams that created the technology in the first place. So when your business and teams scale up or scale down, so too must there be a time-consuming passing down of expertise.

Developer-based approach: Open-source integration platform

An open source integration platform can be a fitting alternative to building your own set of bespoke integrations. It’s less complex than creating a proprietary integration framework from scratch and still gets the job done.

The key advantage is in it’s open-source setup. The information on how to build certain integrations on your open-source platform will be well-researched and easily deployed.

The disadvantage to open-source integration platforms is that your team must learn how to use it. In similar fashion, adding customized integrations – developed by your team – can be a complex and tedious process.

Picking your Integration Portfolio

Whether you opt for an externally managed or internally built integration setup, it ultimately depends on how comfortable your organisation is with either choice. Sometimes a combination works best. The portfolio approach is not the easy route and requires a good outline of the integration goals you have. That being said, in a time where agile and scalability counts more than ever, regardless of the size of your business, the portfolio approach to integration is a standout solution. If you’d like to know more about the right approach to integration then get in touch with us, as we are here to help you on your journey to digital transformation.

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