State of Integration

There is nothing new under the sun; why is integration still harder than it should be

Sometimes I look at the state of integration and I think that things could be so much better. We’ve effectively been doing it since the Berlin airlift. By now you’d hope that things would have settled down and the ability to do integration would simply be a commodity and I would be out of a job. I’m not and that says more about each new generation of programmers than it does about me.

Grace Hopper famously said that programming was like cooking dinner; you’re just combining ingredients in new and novel ways. In its purest form that is true; a skilled programmer, like a chef, chooses the things that will work well with each other and constructs an application that fits perfectly into your enterprise environment. Haven’t seen it happen much recently though; lots of well meaning developers solving problems that might have already been solved 20 perhaps even 30 years ago; they’re just doing it again with the latest framework-du-jour. Does Ecclesiastes have it right: there is nothing new under the sun; and what has been done is what will be done?

Integration is basically seen at the same level as fast food; you’ve got low skilled people working in a production line with no ability to see what’s beyond their fry station. Given that the impact of integration on the business is massive; I’m not so sure that this is a good thing. The problem is really two fold; the business itself doesn’t understand what makes it tick and the guys delivering integration aren’t business aware enough (either because they’re outside contractors or well, you decide) to be able to understand the business.

It doesnt have to be like that. Integration is fundamentally simple. You’re enabling the flow of data through various systems and using that data to gain a competitive advantage; this could be through lower costs; efficiency savings or something non functional like customer satisfaction. Just keep that in mind; It doesn’t matter how elegant your solution is; how many tick boxes you’ve ticked off with the latest trendy tech paradigm; if you aren’t providing business value then it’s going to be a white elephant. Get good people in that understand your business and help with your integration.

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