Six typical integration challenges that agile integration can solve

Red Hat conceived the agile integration concept to help our customers tackle integration challenges more effectively. As we described in an earlier post in detail, agile integration is an architectural approach centered around application programming interfaces (APIs) and API management. At its core, this concept resides on the following three pillars: distributed integration for greater flexibility, containers for the ability to scale better, and managed APIs for re-usability and hence speed.

When we started designing this concept we actually started from two premises:

  1. Agility today is the most important business capability — especially for incumbents in traditional markets.
  2. Every organisation has integration problems.

Typically in most companies nowadays the integration function is centralized and hence technically as well as organizationally a bottleneck. Our two premises contradict each other and we set out to design an integration concept that can solve this contradiction.

In order to come up with a solution that really helps our customers solve their integration problems in the best possible way, we first analysed the market to understand what actually are the problems that users are trying to solve. Although there are of course a very wide variety of often very fine-nuanced problems, it turned out that we could classify all the problems into six typical integration challenges. The following diagram summarizes these challenges and we then discuss each of them in more detail.

Agile Integration: Six Challenges

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From BPM and business automation to digital automation platforms

The business processes that create customer value are the critical piece that links together all of the different aspects of digital transformation. But still, many of the critical activities that contribute to it are either manual or a succession of disconnected workflows or applications that prevent organizations from having an end-to-end view of how their processes deliver customer value.  

Evolving from workflows to BPM – business process management – added a whole collaborative layer and execution structure to the traditional hierarchy and project-based structure of the enterprise. When it was paired with access to the critical data and documents, alongside activity visibility and business rules, it helped to exponentially grow productivity and agility in the enterprise for many years.

Nowadays, enterprises have discovered already how to use these technologies and apply them to work with structured and unstructured processes, to create business rules to guide and support decision making, or the importance of integrating process outputs and inputs in real time to external systems that interact with the processes. These process-centric applications are even cloud-ready so you can run your processes in the cloud and open them up more securely to all of your internal and external collaborators.

But times are changing. Productivity and agility are no longer the name of the game. It is no longer enough to provide ease of use, business, and IT collaboration, or fast modification of processes and rules. Speed and support for digital transformation have become top priorities. Those process-based applications need to be quickly deployed into production, be portable, reusable and consistent across environments, and scaled in the hybrid cloud. Our customers expect cloud-native technologies at the core of their processes. They expect to run their process workloads to scale across the hybrid cloud to provide a consistent experience to their customers and collaborators. Ideally, they also want to future-proof their investments with modern technologies such as containers.

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Meet application integration in the times of hybrid cloud

The concept of agile integration, depending on whom you ask, may appear as a contradiction in terms. Integration is a concept that used to be associated with “slow,” “monolithic,” “only to be touched by the expert team,” etc.. Big and complex legacy enterprise service buses connected to your applications were the technology of choice at a time when agility was not a requirement, when the cloud was barely an idea, when containers were associated with maritime shipping and not with application packaging and delivery.

Can the principles of agile development be combined with those of modern integration? Our response is yes, and we call it  agile integration. Let me show you what it is, why it is important, and what we at Red Hat are doing about it.

Software development methodologies have evolved rapidly in the last few years to incorporate innovative concepts that result in faster development cycles, agility to react to changes and immediate business value. Development now takes place in small teams, changes can be approved and incorporated fast to keep track of the changing demands of the business, and each iteration of the code has a product as the ultimate result. No more need for longer development cycles and never-ending approvals for changes. And importantly, business and technical users join forces and collaborate to optimize the end result.

In addition, modern integration requires agility, cloud-readiness, and support of modern integration approaches. In contrast with the legacy, monolithic ESBs, modern integration is lightweight, pattern-based, scalable, and able to manage complex, distributed environments. It has to be cloud-ready and support modern architectures and deployment models like containers. It also has to provide integration services with new, popular technologies, like API management, which is becoming the preferred way to integrate applications and is at the core of microservices architectures. And support innovative and fast evolving use cases such as the Internet of Things (IoT).

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Red Hat present at EclipseCon France 2018

EclipseCon France is taking place this week in Toulouse, France (June 13-14, 2018) and it’s offering a great lineup of top-notch sessions on nine different tracks, from IoT to cloud and modeling technologies. This year, there is even a dedicated track for “Microservices, MicroProfile, EE4J and Jakarta EE,” which is covering topics such as Istio, 12-factor apps, geoscience, machine learning, noSQL database integration, cloud-native application development, security, resilience, scalability, and the latest statuses of the Jakarta EE and MicroProfile open source specification projects. Under this track, we are hosting two sessions:

But we are also delivering other interesting sessions under the “Reactive Programming” track:

Under the “IoT” track:

Under the “Eclipse IDE and RCP in Practice” track:

And, under the “Cloud & DevOps” and “Other Cool Stuff” tracks:

For those of you that will be at the conference, we invite you to attend the sessions above and to stop by the Red Hat booth to learn how Red Hat can help your organization solve your IT challenges (and get your swag too!). And for those of you that would like to learn more about Red Hat offerings in relation to the topics above, please visit the following links:

Learning Process Driven Application Development with JBoss BPM

Are you interested in an introduction to the concepts of process management (BPM)?

Do you want to learn how your business can leverage process driven application delivery?

Are you looking for an easy to understand guide to mastering Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite tooling?

Do you want a step-by-step introduction to setting up JBoss BPM Suite, then coverage of practical and important topics like data modeling, designing business rules and processes,  detailed real world examples, and tips for testing?

For the last few years I’ve been working on putting years of working with JBoss BPM Suite, community projects Drools and jBPM together in one easy to understand book.

In 2017, Red Hat put the first chapter online for free and literally thousands downloaded it starting their journey on the road to delivering process driven application with JBoss BPM Suite. Many of you have reached out over the years to ask about the completion of this book and where you can get it.

The good news isthat the book is available and Red Hat’s providing ebook downloads for free!

Let’s look at how this works, shall we?

Continue reading “Learning Process Driven Application Development with JBoss BPM”

Cloud Native Application Development – Adopt or Fail

In today’s digital world, software strategy is central to business strategy. To stay competitive, organizations need customized software applications to meet their unique needs — from customer engagements to new product and services development. Drawn-out development projects are no longer acceptable, given business demands. Therefore, the need to speed up application development, testing, delivery, and deployment is no longer optional but a must-have competency.   

At the same time that developers are confronting this challenge to deliver solutions more quickly, they are also facing the most diverse technology ecosystem in the history of computing.  To address this challenge, development teams must modernize architecture, infrastructure, and processes to deliver higher-quality applications with greater agility.

Cloud native development is an approach to building and running applications that fully exploits the advantages of the cloud computing model.  Cloud native development multidimensionality involves architecture, infrastructure, and processes based upon four key tenets:

  1. Services-based architecture: could be microservices or any modular loosely coupled model for independent scalability and flexibility of maintenance and polyglot language runtimes.
  2. Containers and Docker image: as the deployment unit and self-contained execution environment with consistency and portability across cloud infrastructures.
  3. DevOps automation: implementing processes and practices and instrumentation of development to test deployment of applications.     
  4. API-based design: The only communication allowed is via service interface calls over the network. No direct linking, no direct reads of another team’s data store, no shared-memory model with an outside- in perspective.

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A DevOps approach to decision management

Sometimes we would like to change the behavior of an application fast. I mean, really fast.

Traditional development cycles for enterprise applications take weeks if not months for a new version to be ready in production. Even in the world of DevOps, containers, and microservices, where we can spin up new versions of an app in days, or even hours, we need to go through development cycles that are too far away from the business users.

Welcome to the world of business rules and decision services, along with low code development.

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The Business Value of JBoss Enterprise Application Platform – latest white paper by IDC

The latest edition of the white paper titled “The Business Value of JBoss Enterprise Application Platform,” which summarizes the benefits and value that Red Hat customers are seeing by moving to JBoss EAP, has been released.

As the paper states, “IDC interviewed organizations that are using JBoss EAP to develop and run various business applications. These study participants explained that they not only have significantly reduced platform costs with JBoss EAP but also are supporting important organizational IT initiatives such as containerization, microservices, and hybrid cloud use.” The interviewed participants varied in size from medium to large organizations and belonged to a set of diverse vertical industries.

Some of the results from this study are:

  • 481% 3-year ROI
  • 8-month payback period
  • $50K USD average annual benefits per 100 users
  • 43% more number of new application released per year
  • 21% faster time to deliver new applications
  • 38% more number of new features released per year
  • 74% less productive hours lost due to unplanned downtime per year

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The Role of Agile Integration in Open Banking

In the mid 90s, Bill Gates famously said that “banking is necessary, banks are not.” There is certainly a lot of truth in this statement. We all need banking services in some shape or form. But who delivers these services to us is secondary. In fact, Accenture concluded in a study conducted in 2016 asking over 30,000 people in 18 countries that if the tech titans like Google, Amazon, or Facebook would offer such services, 31% of the respondents would switch to them. This clearly imposes a significant threat on traditional banking institutions.

Another challenge that banks are facing worldwide are the increasing demands for regulatory compliance with respect to openness. Such regulations include, for instance, Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) in Europe, the Amendment Bill to Japanese Banking Law in Japan, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) with the Unified Payment Interface, UK’s Open Banking standard by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), or the Open Banking Regime by Australia’s Federal Government. Banks approach these regulatory challenges in many different ways. Some see it as a serious business threat and only do the bare minimum for compliance; others see it as an opportunity and with smart investment start building banking platforms for the future.

Our suggestion for building the banking platform of the future resides on the principles of agile integration, which is an architectural approach centered around application programming interfaces (APIs) and API management. At its core, agile integration resides on the three pillars: distributed integration for greater flexibility, containers for the ability to scale better, and managed APIs for re-usability and hence speed. We described the details in an earlier post.  

Continue reading “The Role of Agile Integration in Open Banking”

The 3 benefits of RHOAR, by Thomas Johnson, Shadow-Soft

The rise of microservices and containerized environments comes with its own set of demands and challenges for developers, who are being asked to quickly and reliably bring new features to market and adhere to strict best practices.

Thomas Johnston from our partner Shadow-Soft recognizes their pain points and offers the three benefits that RHOAR offers to speed up microservices development.

Read more here: Microservices slowing you down? Streamline the orchestration process with Red Hat OpenShift Application Runtimes (RHOAR)