Many organizations have adopted agile methodologies for iterative, incremental, and evolutionary software development. Many also have incorporated DevOps automation, integration, and collaboration practices for speeding application delivery with a focus on constant testing and continuous delivery. These changes to the way in-house applications are created and deployed have had a positive impact on all industries. But that impact goes only so far.

Now, it’s time to think about enterprise agility in a larger sense – that is, as a strategy for businesses to become more flexible by having an on-demand approach to unify components across all software systems in order to quickly execute changes as needed.

The age of agile integration is upon us. This is not just about moving siloed data from one application to another via technologies such as enterprise service buses (ESBs), where integration is thought of as merely a component of infrastructure. Instead, agile integration is the very heart of the enterprise architecture, serving as the platform for elastic scalability across decentralized services.

Agile integration brings together distributed integration, hybrid clouds, and application programming interfaces (APIs) in a new architectural framework that aligns these critical elements of integration with agile and DevOps processes to create or reorganize systems so that they are ready for change at a moment’s notice. Adopting agile integration enables the business to quickly integrate system assets to meet new business requirements as they arise. Developers can divide the software they write into smaller and highly adaptable container-based microservices and take advantage of reusable APIs to immediately connect these components together, either to fast-track new apps or accelerate the evolution of legacy systems. Companies can deploy these results to run back and forth across their private data center clouds and public clouds.

Gartner, in fact, recently published a piece, Enabling Agile Integration with a Distributed Integration Platform, that states that “a distributed integration platform (DIP) architecture packages the integration and its runtime requirements into a container, and deploys them across the organization’s infrastructure. This pattern has emerged to help teams deliver custom-built integrations via agile practices.”*

Companies including Lufthansa Technik, Argentina’s National Migration Department, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, and UPS are already benefiting from agile integration. Lufthansa Technik, for instance, relies on Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform to build, deploy, run, and integrate the components of its new agile infrastructure, including cloud-native applications and microservices, for its recently launched AVIATAR products and services division. AVIATAR is focused on making airline operations safer and more reliable. For its part, UPS has created a flexible, agile, container-based cloud computing environment using Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Red Hat  Fuse to help developers efficiently create new features for operations logistics and staffing.

Building an agile integration culture

Accepting the idea of agile integration means accepting that the old way of planning development cycles and infrastructures isn’t suited to the new world of ongoing business transformation. Taking months to plan for and roll out long-term projects no longer works, given today’s pace of change. It precludes the rapid cultivation of new plans and the rapid implementation of new configurations (where systems can be swapped out, updated, or removed) in order to be able to latch on to new opportunities – and then do it again, and again, and again.

Agile integration, of course, isn’t only about technical change. Cultural change is needed, too, and it may in fact need to start at the CIO level. After all, so many of IT leaders have seen promises of agility fade away, as they did when technologies failed to deliver on expectations of enabling the IT environment to adapt to change with ease and grace. But given the current trend toward digitalization of the enterprise, IT leaders must be open to agile integration. A small initial project is a great way to get a feel for the benefits of the approach, and any successes they see can help them garner support for agile integration across their teams and the business at large.

For more information about agile integration, see Red Hat’s new ebook, Agile Integration: A Blueprint for Enterprise Architecture. And learn more about agile integration here.

*Source, Gartner, Inc., “Enabling Agile Integration with a Distributed Integration Platform”, Matt Brasier, September 21, 2018

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