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Application networks are the next generation of integration middleware

Traditional integration middleware can no longer meet today’s needs

The single biggest challenge for IT today is the simple lack of time and resources to deliver everything the enterprise needs. Businesses need to provide improved customer experiences, innovate constantly, and deliver operational excellence to survive in an environment with increased competition, a premium on innovation, and cheap compute infrastructure. 

Many IT organizations try to meet these needs with traditional integration middleware, but the ever-increasing demands simply are becoming too much to cope with. IT must find a way to close the delivery gap

What is needed is a way to connect systems, applications, data, and devices; expose data to be used by various parts of the business; and enable teams throughout the enterprise to deliver technological solutions. Increasing IT capacity isn’t merely a matter of changing technology, it’s also changing the organizational structure of the IT team as well. 

An application network meets 21st century integration demands by scaling the IT organization, making its delivery capacity larger and improving the speed at which projects are completed. Setting up an application network enables an enterprise to multiply its technology capacity and can result in dramatic business outcomes. 


The problems with integration middleware

A typical integration landscape offers lots of disconnected applications, data sources, and devices which are either disconnected or tied together using point-to-point code in a haphazard fashion. Not only does this make use of data across multiple applications difficult, it also takes time and effort for IT to make those applications functional, as connections have to be coded by hand each time. Every project is just as hard as the one before, complexity is increased, and fragility and paralysis ensue.

An organization has three choices. They can simply stop integration projects, which is a foolhardy move considering the necessity of moving applications to the cloud and providing experiences in new channels for their customers, employees, and partners. They can continue to do nothing, watching as their infrastructure becomes more complicated and their IT team runs out of resources. Or they could set aside everything and rebuild it all. For some companies, that might be possible; but for organizations in industries like healthcare or financial services, which have compliance regulations, or even just older businesses that have legacy systems, for example, there needs to be a way to connect the new technology to the old. 

Application networks solve these integration problems

An application network is a network connecting applications, data, and devices via APIs. It is organized around focused, well-defined units of value. It emerges bottoms-up via self-service, is recomposable, and each node adds value to the whole network.  Instead of thinking about technological solutions as solutions in themselves, or as for one-time use only, instead they should be thought of as exposing value to the business. For example, what value does a CRM provide? Who needs that value? And in what way do constituents want to access that value? 

Once those principles are defined, then the CRM application can be plugged into the application network in such a way that allows it to be accessed by other applications - a mobile app, for example, or a database, or communications software. But, importantly, an application network provide reuse of those connections. It is not necessary to hard-code an integration every time you need to connect your CRM to something else. The application network allows the setup of a reusable integration template to make that connection easy and fast for your developers.

Moreover, the templates make that data available to anyone who wishes to use it. This is the shift in thinking about the IT organization. Rather than having every technological solution furnished and provided by IT, an application network allows anyone who needs access to the data to use it in a governed and secured manner. This enables a new operating model for IT, where the consumers of data (LoB, business analysts, SIs, app developers) work in partnership with provisioners of data (IT, DevOps) to create a production cycle, speeding up project delivery and providing reusable assets for use in future projects.

What can an application network do for your business?

An application network involves a new approach to integration - it thinks about integration as a holistic discipline, rather than a series of projects to be connected. It sees integration as a way to increase value to the business rather than the intrinsic value of connections themselves.
And, most importantly, from a practical perspective it changes the clock speed of business by increasing the IT team’s capacity to deliver innovative and exciting solutions and experiences. 

Take a look at more application network resources.