Tactical Integration

Integration isn’t a top-down all or nothing proposition

Once a business is established then some things become entrenched; business processes, the interaction between core systems and what have you; some things do change really quickly and often (like requirements). It will take time for you to replace some of the systems that you have in place, but you need them integrated now.

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The benefits of an business class router

The consumer router you’ve got is rubbish if you actually need to work from home

I was pretty much one of the first 10 ADSL installations in Reading; I was with BT back then (waaaay back in 2001), and I have stayed with them, during all that time I’ve only had 1 week’s outage and they’ve been pretty reliable. What has irked me is that my local exchange has been fibre-enabled since 2011; it’s only now that I’ve been able to get BT Infinity (installed for 2 weeks now). The nice engineer came round and disabled all my phone sockets bar the one in the study. The reasons for this I’m sure are quite technically sound I’m not a telecoms engineer; he said you can only run the infinity modem off the master socket (I don’t have power near that socket); he moved the master socket to the office, which incidentally meant that all the other sockets have been disabled.

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Legacy EDI to a cloud enabled platform

We replaced an entire mainframe with a couple of adapters; here’s what happened.

Back in 2011 we needed to replace a legacy mainframe system for a customer. They were in effect acting as a Value Added Network (VAN) in a small industry and needed to completely replace legacy hardware and out of support software; essentially they were trading two types of data, EDI (X12) and a proprietary flat file format. Enough time has passed now that I can blog about it fairly objectively and use it as a case study for how we achieved the deadlines and transitioned this community to a cloud enabled platform. Our strategy for migration had to cope with no documentation and the lack of a test infrastructure for the community.

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So your backend system isn't cloud ready

Your backend system isn’t cloud-ready, that’s not a big deal if you have an adapter.

In our brave new cloud-based world a lot of integration happens over the web via HTTP; for a lot of scenarios, a full WS stack that uses SOAP+UDDI+WSDL is complete overkill and a timesink. Sometimes you just want to send some data around and get a response; this is where the adapter can fit into your integration landscape and help you get things done1.

  1. Sometimes things have to get done and your dirty proof of concept gets deployed into production… ↩︎

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Integration is like preparing dinner

Getting the mix of integration ingredients right

In celebration of International Women’s Day (8th March 2013), I think a reference to computing pioneer Admiral Grace Hopper is in order. I believe she said that programming was like planning a dinner; that’s a neat way of mapping the act of programming into something everyday. After all, as a programmer, most of the time you aren’t inventing new algorithms1 you’re just joining up existing third party libraries and API’s in a different way; making a new recipe out of the same ingredients.

  1. To paraphrase Bill Gates, anyone who’s understood all of of Knuth can always get a job. ↩︎

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