The need to integrate business applications is as old as the enterprise software market itself. In the early 1970s SAP tried to solve this problem by building one integrated system in which all software components used by different departments would essentially access the same database. This approach worked well for a few decades until the Cloud’s rise provided businesses easy access to a massive pool of sophisticated enterprise applications. Today, companies cherry-pick different software vendors, mix in custom-build applications, and replace legacy apps rather quickly to take advantage of an ever-improving software market. According to a recent statistic from Okta (https://www.okta.com/businesses-at-work/2021/) larger businesses deploy an average of 175 apps while smaller customers still deploy over 70 apps. It comes as no surprise that the number of total deployed applications tends to rise quickly as more and more SaaS applications hit the market every day.
A modern Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) platform needs to keep up with the pace of a changing software landscape, changing APIs and connectors, and changing data governance requirements. Only a fully integrated suite of software will allow you to maximize the benefits of a best-of-breed toolchain approach.
While legacy iPaaS providers such as ESB systems have done a great job connecting and integrating a massive amount of applications seamlessly, they all share one dilemma: complexity. It takes a considerable amount of effort to acquire the technology, train for it, and maintain the integration platform. The huge vendor lock-in you just created will force you to stick to this technology for years to come, eventually lowering your efficiency due to a depreciating technology.
Let’s have a look at how Kubernetes, cloud-native, and open-source technology could help you loosen up your integration platform obstacles.
While legacy platform providers have been providing complex and monolithic applications to build integrations and APIs, we want to follow industry trends and build lightweight microservices which are interchangeable and easy to scale. As we have all learned in life, a one-size-fits-all approach is seldom a recipe for success as we need to choose and pick the appropriate technology for our requirements. The well-known Apache Camel framework is excellent for real-time integration implementations and APIs, but Apache NiFi or Beam might better suit any ETL requirements. A well-thought-out microservice approach will enable us to cherry-pick a few different technology frameworks, which combined will allow us to create a solution platform for many different use-cases.
Eliminate Vendor lock-in
After creating a highly customizable set of microservices, our applications need to be deployed and maintained somewhere. This part of the software development lifecycle has been repeatedly underestimated, and many legacy integration platform providers claimed to solve this problem with ease. The deployment of software artifacts is a complex endeavor, and complications tend to increase over time with an increasing number of deployments and growing requirements. Containerization in combination with an orchestration platform such as Kubernetes finally solves this issue. A container is an independent piece of software that brings all tools, libraries, and configurations it needs to run with it. Kubernetes, in addition, provides a runtime environment where you can offload this container and rest assured that somebody takes good care of the operation. The only downside is that the complexity to maintain Kubernetes itself is pretty high. However, all major cloud providers offer managed Kubernetes solutions with a click of a button for negligible administration fees. This way, a small microservice wrapped into a container can be deployed into any orchestration platform and easily moved around whenever needed.
No Migration Again
Honestly, who is not frustrated with never-ending migration projects? Huge software vendors claim that everything will work much faster, smoother, and better once you migrate to the latest version, only to find out that the promises cannot be kept and the migration itself accumulated a substantial risk. Containerized microservices will essentially eliminate the need to migrate entire systems. Remember, our microservices are running entirely independently on Kubernetes. There is barely a need to migrate or update all services at once. New or changed software artifacts can incorporate new technologies or new framework versions and run trouble-free next to each other.
Infinite Capabilities without the Headache
Complex integrations and APIs processing millions of transactions daily require more than a well-developed microservice. They need to be embedded in a high-available, high-scalable ecosystem. Kubernetes checks the boxes on almost any enterprise requirement, and the integration of Kubernetes into a cloud provider expands the capabilities even further. Once the Kubernetes cluster has been configured correctly in your Cloud environment, the developer defines the expectations and Kubernetes takes care of the delivery – without the need to open support tickets with your organization. Complex things as load-balancing, service exposure or, autoscaling become finally reliable and accessible features of your platform.