Understanding Hybrid Integration Platforms

Based on the research done by researchandmarkets.com, market cap for Hybrid Integration Platforms (HIP) will grow from 17.14B in 2017 to 33.60B in 2022. This shows the importance of the Hybrid Integration Platforms and their relevance to the enterprises. First of all, it is essential to understand the concept. The term “Hybrid” means a combination of more than one entities (most of the time 2). I drive a hybrid Toyota vehicle which runs on electricity (battery) as well as fuel (petrol). In the world of integration, hybrid means integrating systems which resides on

  • On premise and
  • Cloud

When it comes to “on-premise” systems, they can be running on physical hardware, virtual machines, containers or in a virtual private cloud. The meaning of an on-premise system in the world of integration is that user has the control over application maintenance.

“Cloud” systems means the systems which are running on public cloud which runs on vendors own data centers (or public Iaas cloud such as EC2, Azure or GCloud) and fully managed by the vendor. Sometimes users may get some admin privileges, but it is most of the time the vendor who does the maintenance of the system.

The term Hybrid Integration Platform means a platform which can interconnct both on-premise and cloud based systems. Even though we differentiate the systems based on their installed location and the maintenance capabilities, all the systems communicate with the integration platform using 2 main principals.

  • Communication (Transport) protocol (e.g. HTTP, JMS, TCP, IDOC, etc.)
  • Content Type (message format) (e.g. XML, JSON, Binary, Text, etc.)

From the Integration Platform’s perspective, what it matters is to understand the transport protocol and the message formats. In most of the well known integration platforms, these are handled through

  • Protocol Connectors — to deal with communication protocols (HTTP, JMS, TCP, etc)
  • Message Builder/Formatter — to deal with message formats (XML, JSON, Binary, etc)

With the usage of above mentioned 2 components, Integration Platform can interface with any system and integrate with other systems using a canonical internal message representation (or not). Some platforms keeps a canonical representation while others do the transformations as and when necessary.

On top of these standard protocol connectors, some integration platforms has build specific connectors for cloud APIs like Salesforce, Twitter, Gmail, Facebook, etc. so that integration with those systems are abstracted and make it easier for the developers. These Cloud Connectors are one of the key factors when selecting a proper Hybrid Integration Platform. Some vendors offer these connectors for free while other offer these connectors at a cost.

Another important aspect of a HIP is the ability to extend their core functionalities through simple and well defined interfaces. When it comes to integration, there can be so many on-premise systems which has been written with proprietary standards (especially Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) systems) and it is really important that HIP can extend its capabilities and deal with this kind of systems.

Another aspect of a HIP is the deployment flexibility. The platform must be able to deploy on premise as well as cloud. It would also be a value addition if that is available as a public cloud offerring.

If a particular Integration Platform or a product offers the above mentioned capabilities, we can consider that as a good candidate for your Hybrid Integration Platform requirement.

On top of these technical capabilities, another key factor in identifying a good HIP is the user experience when it comes to integrate multiple systems. The concept of Citizen Integrtor has become a key factor in selecting a good HIP. The term Citizen Integrator has many different meanings. But the high level idea is that a person who understands the business value of systems and their interconnections will become a citizen integrator if he is willing to learn about usage of the technology without going detail into writing code. Due to this factor, most of the vendors are building visual tools to help Citizen Integrators to easily achieve their targets without worrying about writing code.

In addition to the above mentioned capabilities, having following features would add icing on the cake.

  • Analytics capabilities
  • API management capabilities
  • Identity and Access Management capabilities

Given below are some of the leaders in this space

  • Software AG (Darmstadt, Germany)
  • Informatica (California, US)
  • Dell Boomi (Pennsylvania, US)
  • MuleSoft (California, US)
  • IBM (New York, US)
  • TIBCO Software (California, US)
  • Oracle (California, US)
  • Liaison Technologies (Georgia, US)
  • WSO2 (California, US)
  • SnapLogic (California, US)
  • Red Hat (North Carolina, US)
  • Axway (Puteaux, France)
  • SEEBURGER (Bretten, Germany)
  • Microsoft (Washington, US)

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Chanaka Fernando

Chanaka Fernando

Writes about Microservices, APIs, and Integration. Author of “Designing Microservices Platforms with NATS”

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