Perhaps the number-one problem IT faces in its pursuit of cloud computing is the challenge of integrating legacy systems with cloud applications. Most software or application vendors have Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) written that that provide access to the data or processes in their systems, leaving individual IT teams to create the programs and infrastructure that manage these interfaces. That might seem like a straightforward task, but anyone who has attempted it knows that it is neither quick nor simple when dozens of applications are involved.
The benefits of solving this issue are clear. Legacy systems run on expensive and obsolete platforms, and they are often written in archaic languages that are incomprehensible to current staff. Legacy systems do not have the agility that most modern businesses require to support changes in their processes and keep users satisfied in a sustainable and cost-effective manner. There are scores of business and technology drivers pushing enterprises toward modernization.
The Top 10:
- Consumer requirements and business models are rapidly changing.
- Legacy systems are unable to incorporate the richly interactive (Web-based) and mobile modules users demand.
- Enterprises can’t accommodate new standards in compliance and reporting.
- Manual integration processes burden staff.
- Mergers and acquisitions require the integration of business processes, which remains difficult with legacy systems.
- Legacy applications threaten dynamic workflow, process definition and monitoring.
- The cost of maintaining legacy systems is high and the return is low.
- Businesses want to synchronize data exchange between legacy investments and new applications and processes.
- Organizations need legacy applications to directly connect to modern messaging systems, including Java message service (JMS), Microsoft messaging (MS), message queue (MQ) and Websphere MQ. This requires replacing proprietary interfaces with scalable integration platforms.
- There is a mandate to build up service-oriented architecture (SOA), including legacy apps.
Traditionally, organizations did one of three things to solve the many issues presented by legacy apps: they could replace them, they could wrap them in modern interfaces, or they could live with the challenges. Of course, these approaches all have significant flaws, including high cost, high risk and failure to solve the original problems. Luckily, there is a fourth option for IT teams faced with legacy challenges. They can draw on the capabilities of integration platforms, which allow them to:
- Use one tool to connect to and from all legacy applications to instantly integrate without the need for programming.
- Share data and processes by using technology adapters that support different environments and platforms through automated messaging, transport, communication, file and database operations.
- Allow legacy systems to easily connect and consume newly created Web services. This can be achieved through automation of each Web service call and response by wrapping and un-wrapping each message according to the standard simple object access protocol (SOAP) and HTTP. This effectively integrates legacy applications and cloud-based applications including those on and off site.
- Future proof developing business processes by reducing the influence of underlying technology.
- Retain control over proprietary business processes by keeping integration in-house.
Solutions are needed that automate integration on both sides of the firewall as well as on-premise and in the cloud. An integration platform can enable IT to automatically apply mission-critical data changes to every system, saving manpower, reducing human error and improving productivity. Those benefits are all the more appealing when one considers the alternatives.
Contribution By Glenn Johnson, Senior Vice President, Magic Software Enterprises Americas