It is beyond a doubt that our world has gone disruptive and technology’s claim to make businesses faster, nimbler and better has never been more pronounced. Organizations work with different products which may be built either by a third-party vendor or be custom-built and operate in different operating system platform. Product Engineering Services companies have realized this growing need which is forcing enterprises to work with multiple applications and products.
To support business processes, they need to combine different systems to offer a reliable and efficient data exchange between them. Connecting these systems may appear to be a plug-n-play task but a flawless integration is a bigger challenge than what it appears. The real difficulty lies in dealing with the friction created by dissimilarities of the tools and applications.
Most of product engineering projects fail because organizations undermine the gravity of challenges posed by integration.
Let’s discover those pitfalls!
Before diving deep into challenges, let’s first understand what integration is.
It is about connecting different components such as language, structure, behavior or environment of different systems into one system with the help of middleware or frameworks.
The process is similar where a mediator translates and connects two foreign language speakers for effective communication. And that is why it is imperative for organizations to anticipate all the potential impediments of integration in advance.
Challenges which hinder integration!
APIs are only a part of the solution
Here is the little secret of APIs: They are built to generate a tiered architecture and not to serve the purpose of third party integration. Challenges are faced due to lack of documentation.
- Data structures of APIs often miss from documentation like when and how calls can be made and what will be side-effects of such operations
- Error messages are common and are poorly handled
- Lack of documentation of bugs and edge cases
- Different APIs from different vendors may result in inconsistencies between different versions
- Improper documentation force to adopt trial and error method to find the correct usage of APIs. And in some cases, even the vendors lack in providing correct information
Let’s understand this with an example.
Consider you are in the kitchen where APIs are ingredients and the pantry is full of them. You need to cook a recipe for integration using these ingredients (APIs). But the problem is these ingredients are not correctly labeled i.e. documentation of the APIs is not proper. This leads to the problem where you are unaware of what exactly these ingredients are and how can they be used. In such situation if you try to cook i.e. if you try to integrate systems with any API, it will most certainly turn out to be a complete disaster.
Connecting to legacy systems
Most organizations rely heavily on their legacy systems and it is not easy to get rid of them because they contain critical data.
These systems tend to be obsolete, fragile and difficult to integrate with new products. Integration gets difficult because such system’s hard-coded interfaces are written with rigid functionality in mind, making integration with legacy systems more difficult. Without investing in legacy systems, it is highly unlikely that it would support new technology.
Lack of standardization
Standardization of integration processes play a key role in achieving a uniform solution for integration and interoperability. A standard data model for integration not only satisfies business requirements but also helps in designing a consistent view. The reason for a standardized approach of integration stems from the need to make components of the product harmonize with the actual interface, quickly and easily.
Problem with testing heterogeneous system
The heterogeneous systems are generally made up of subsystems and various interactions keep happening between these subsystems.
But what if you don’t have proper information for testing these hybrid systems?
“The problem is not that testing is the bottleneck. The problem is that you don’t know what’s in the bottle. That’s a problem that testing addresses.” — Michael Bolton
Testing of such systems poses a challenge of interoperability and conformance due to lack of information from third party. Moreover, due the complexities of such systems the traditional testing issues get amplified.
Insufficient third party tool information
Today, you’ll hardly find any product engineering project where some kind of third-party integration isn’t involved. Whether it is adding features for consumers or integrating business process applications with the website, third party integration is a must-have. In such cases, lack of information might force the team to conduct intense research for thorough understanding which could impact the cost and duration of project delivery.
Absence of planned integration process framework
An integration framework helps monitor the movement of data across businesses and applications, right from planning to delivery. It helps in reducing complexity of intricate integration.
As Jeroen De Flander has said, “Don’t fool yourself: having a strategy map is not the same as having a strategy”
Absence of planned integration process framework may lead to complications in managing the implemented integration features and restrain from solving customer integration problems. Because of lack of clarity for project prioritization and performance criteria, it might not be possible to move the team towards an improved decision making.
Integration in itself is a challenge!
As per Search IT Channel, among the challenges faced by solution providers making sure integration is proper ranks 4th.
All third-party vendors say their product is plug and play and completely backwards-compatible, but it is rarely true. The solution provided are generally too complex to maintain or do not satisfy the demands at all. Choosing the right and suitable set of products will allow integration with other systems easily either via a web service layer or with the use of libraries.
Opting for a solution provider like Cygnet who provides all the integration solutions will help avoid another monolith!
Not choosing right tool for integration
As far as modern connectivity is concerned, the integration tools are expected to support hybrid integration. Their popularity is on the rise because they allow a seamless integration of on-site applications with cloud based applications. As shifting to cloud completely is not possible due to legacy systems, regulatory compliance issues, and the growing concerns around privacy and security of sensitive data, the wrong tool will do blunder for the project.
Lack of time, resource and finance
Needless to say, integration demand resources that seem far-fetched primarily due to cost constraints. Additionally, the fee for data transfer would rise if communication is based on third-party infrastructure; which in turn increases the dependency on independent operators.
Choosing an experienced integration provider
Even with all these pitfalls, it is beyond a doubt that there are numerous benefits of integration, which can’t be denied. But when you are caught up with the integration pain points, breaking free from it could be a daunting task.
We have heard a lot of horror stories from our clients; how they failed to connect their systems due to lack of strategy and expertise. Cygnet, as your technology partner will walk hand-in-hand with you to ensure a smooth integration process.
So, are you ready to get started or still waiting? Drop us an email at email@example.com for our Product Engineering Services.