A barrage of new technology often does not help create an agile infrastructure since different groups move in different directions to explore options for improvement. Without a coherent set of top-level goals, it can be difficult to determine which set of new capabilities will make a genuine difference to the overall functioning of the organisation.
The three pillars of agile integration
Three main technologies underpin an agile integration approach.
1. Distributed integration
A few dozen high-level integration patterns reflect enterprise work and data-flows. When these integration patterns are deployed within containers, the integration patterns can be deployed at the scale and location needed for specific applications and teams. This is a distributed integration architecture, rather than the traditional centralised integration architecture, and it allows individual teams to define and deploy the integration patterns that they need with agility.
Stable, well-managed APIs have a huge effect on collaboration between teams, development, and operations. APIs wrap key assets in stable, reusable interfaces, allowing those interfaces to work as building blocks for reuse across the organisation, with partners, and with customers. APIs can be deployed together with containers to different environments, allowing different users to interact with different sets of APIs.
For both API and distributed integration technologies, containers work as the underlying deployment platform. Containers allow the exact service to be deployed within a specific environment in a way that is easy and consistent to develop, test, and maintain. Because containers are the dominant platform for DevOps environments and microservices, using containers as your integration platform enables a much more transparent and collaborative relationship between development and infrastructure teams.
These three technologies make IT infrastructure more agile because they each raise the level of abstraction at which different teams can work together. Using a container platform with APIs and distributed integrations abstracts the implementation of the integration from the integration itself. Teams can be more agile because APIs and distributed integration patterns package specific assets at a level that can be broadly understood — without having to understand or alter the underlying infrastructure.
Individually, each of these technologies will provide significant agility to specific integration challenges. When used together, they provide a multiplier effect. Underscoring the technology is culture: the benefits of the technology are increased when combined with DevOps practices — especially automation and deployment processes.
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