Connecting the dots: (hybrid) integration as a path to the future

Nov 15, 2021
  • IT
  • SAP
  • Microsoft
  • data

How many applications does your organization need to keep things running, from CRM and ERP to customer platform and email? In a hypercompetitive world, all of these tools need to work together seamlessly. The not-so secret ingredient? Integration! delaware experts Tom Peeters, Solution lead Microsoft integration, and Pieterjan De Schrijver, Solution lead SAP integration, unpack the concept and shed light on "hybrid integration platforms" and "integration as a service".

Why is it so important for organizations and IT departments to get integration right?  

Pieterjan: “Integration is like air: it’s mostly invisible, but when it’s gone you’re in deep, deep trouble.  Why? Because modern IT landscapes no longer consist of single solutions, but of multiple components that work together as a unified whole.”

Tom: “The truth is, no matter how advanced a single business application is, without a proper integration strategy it will remain an empty shell. Getting high-quality data and actionable insights requires links with other systems. Think about it: in the modern intelligent enterprise, even the most basic business processes occur across multiple systems. For example, the CRM needs to share client data with the ERP and vice versa to enable on-time delivery.”

Pieterjan: “Digital transformation trends like process automation and SaaS adoption are drivers for system integration. Never before have we witnessed such an overwhelming need for new solutions and applications. And again, each of these applications require data from multiple sources in order to deliver the desired business outcome .”

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So what does an integration expert do, exactly?

Pieterjan: “After the enterprise architect has identified priorities and drawn a roadmap, we come in to turn it into reality. This includes deciding which components to use and how they can collaborate on a technical level."


What is an integration platform, and why is it needed? 

Pieterjan: “When you allow applications to ‘talk’ to each other, i.e. share data, there is a very real risk of overloading source systems, if not done properly. Furthermore, new software as a service (SaaS) are often closed environments, which means they don’t offer a whole lot of flexibility in terms of development.” 

Tom: “To enable safe and efficient (re-)use of data across solutions, you need an extra layer of abstraction. And that’s where an integration platform comes in. On a fundamental level, it allows you to centralize and unify your data.” 

integration is like air: it’s mostly invisible, but when it’s gone you’re in deep, deep trouble. 
Pieterjan De Schrijver, Solution lead SAP integration 

What is a hybrid integration platform?

Tom: “Years ago, when IT landscapes were on premises, simple middleware was enough to cover all use cases. Now, we have to deal with IT landscapes that are located entirely or partly in the cloud, and there’s a growing need to also integrate data and events. To bridge the gap between all these challenges, a hybrid integration platform is indispensable.”

Pieterjan: “A single service can no longer reconcile the various styles, endpoints, architectures, and personas that constitute a modern IT landscape. That’s why you need a hybrid integration platform. Even more, companies will have different integration needs at different times. Which is why we’re offering ‘integration as a service’: our methodology on how to open the black box for our customers that can be deployed on demand when the need arises.”  

What are the latest trends in integration?

Tom: “Apart from the aforementioned hybrid integration platform and integration as a service, event-driven integration is gaining a lot of traction as well. In this specific approach,  real world events, like an order placement or a customer call, are propagated in real time to other systems. The latter ‘subscribes’ to these events or changes in state. It’s the direct opposite of response/request-driven integration, where the receipt of the request triggers the action.” 

Pieterjan: “The advantage of event-driven integration is certainly its scalability and the ability to mix and match certain vendors. For example, you could organize your on-premises integration with Microsoft, and your cloud integration needs with SAP.”

at delaware, we have the luxury of being able to share expertise and compare vendors, which means customers always get the best fit for their needs.
Tom Peeters, Solution lead Microsoft integration 

delaware works with different software vendors. Are there any differences in how SAP and Microsoft think about integration?

Tom: “In all honesty, the visions of SAP and Microsoft on integration are pretty aligned. But different solutions work better for specific situations. At delaware, we have the luxury of being able to share expertise and compare vendors, which means customers always get the best fit for their needs."

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