eai-platform
Over the course of 14 years, salesforce.com has grown at an extremely rapid pace. It has taken salesforce.com 12 years to reach $2B in annual revenue. In comparison, it took Microsoft 16 years, Oracle 17 years, and SAP 23 years to reach this same milestone. As with any high-growth and fast-paced company, the focus for internal based integrations is on near term delivery. Teams work at a whirlwind pace to satisfy business requirements and move the business forward. Unfortunately over time, this can lead the teams to focus on delivering point-to-point integrations rather than designing loosely coupled integrations. This ultimately results in a complex structure that is not only difficult to maintain but costly too.

That’s why my team and I have spent a considerable amount of time designing our long-term integration strategy to help the company reach its vision of $10B in annual revenue. As you can imagine, supporting a company this size can get complex very quickly. So when we embarked on designing our strategy, we set some guiding principals to help during our decision making process:

Cloud First – Working for a company that pioneered and has led the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) revolution, it was imperative that we incorporate and share the same Cloud values as our company. This is easier said than done. As integration specialists know, the integration industry is typically on the tail end of innovation and is last to incorporate the latest trends into its products. So we knew this was going to be a challenging principle to work with.

Industry Leading Technologies – The software industry is changing rapidly. End users want the latest technology that they use for personal use in the enterprise. Unfortunately, many enterprise IT shops adopt these changes slowly which causes distrust and impatience. It divides an enterprise rather than being productive. Thus, we wanted to be able to (1) easily change to adopt new technology as the needs of our end users changed; and/or (2) work with a vendor that was committed to providing technology that was common to industry trends.

Focused on Success – Integrations require one or more technologies to transform, enhance, or massage data to meet its end state. You can imagine the complexity that goes into designing a reusable and consistent platform to handle high data volumes, guaranteed delivery, analytics, etc. We wanted to have a partner that would truly be invested in our success. One who would be there to help us solve challenging and complex problems and to meet the architectural vision we had.

This resulted in two choices for an enterprise integration platform. A new and exciting best-of-breed Cloud integration platform strategy or a traditional on-premise single provider integration strategy. The chart below depicts an example of vendors that make up the larger components of the platform strategies.

integration-platform-matrix

An example of a best-of-breed cloud integration platform vs. a traditional on-premise integration platform

I can talk for quite some time about this topic, but the high-level takeaways for each of the approaches were:

Integration Strategy Highlights
Best-of-Breed Approach
Single Provider Approach
Strengths

  • Risk balanced across many vendors
  • Best marketplace product per function
  • Lower TCO, small hardware footprint

Considerations

  • Multiple Cloud vendors needed to complete platform
  • Custom development needed to “secure” Clouds & other gaps
  • Small companies/acquisition targets
Strengths

  • Mature company & product offering
  • Can support future maturity
  • Single “throat to choke”

Considerations

  • Vendor product “lock-in”
  • Higher TCO with hardware & support
  • May never achieve Cloud vision

In the end, working with multiple vendors that go deep in functionality for their niche can allow the platform to achieve a level of depth necessary to adopt future change. Not to mention, it can also motivate and inspire your integration development teams since they can work with the best technology in the industry.

I’m interested in hearing from you! Please feel free to post a comment if you have adopted a best-of-breed Cloud integration strategy approach at your company or have additional thoughts you’d like to contribute to this post.

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