IT organizations have historically focused most of their integration efforts on business processes within the four walls of the proverbial enterprise. But now with the rise of REST application programming interfaces and the coming of the Internet of Things (IoT), much of that integration activity is shifting to external partners.
In fact, a recent survey of 1,000 IT decision makers conducted by Equinix, a provider of hosting and network services, finds that the number of interconnected enterprises is set to grow from 38 percent today to 84 percent by 2017.
For IT services providers, that represents a doubling of external integration opportunities. Whether you refer to that growth as the digital or API economy, creating and then managing those multi-point integrations is usually beyond the ken of the average IT organization. As a result, IT services providers are already seeing a spike in IT projects that involve integrating customers and partners across what is now generally referred to as the extended enterprise.
Business benefits and beyond
The Equinix study makes it clear that the business benefits of these interconnections are substantial. More than a third of the survey respondents report that their organization has created more than $10 million in value via those interconnections, and three in five respondents said they believe establishing direct and secure interconnections with their employees, partners, and customers, is “very important” to their ability to compete.
At the core of those interconnections are direct network connections between data centers running inside and outside of the cloud. Rather than relying on the vagaries of public Internet connections, enterprise IT organizations are, for example, setting up direct connections between their data centers and data center facilities managed by Amazon Web Services or Microsoft.
In fact, the survey finds that 84 percent of the respondents said they will be connecting to multiple clouds in the next five years. The end result is not only a more secure application environment, but the amount of network latency that adversely affects application performance across an extended enterprise is greatly reduced.
Uncovering new opportunities
Of course, establishing the network connections is only the beginning of the exercise. All the applications that span those networks need to be integrated as well. Given the inherent complexity associated with integrating applications across an extended network, the amount of integration activity currently taking place across cloud computing environments is still relatively small. But as the tools required to accomplish those integration tasks become simpler to use, there should be a dramatic increase in the number of application integration projects spanning hybrid cloud computing environments.
Arguably, most of what passes for cloud computing today is homogeneous. An organization may have moved multiple workloads into the cloud, but typically those workloads tend to run in isolation. As IT organizations become more adept in terms of how they make use of the cloud, the amount of application integration spanning multiple clouds will increase. In the meantime, IT services providers should be gearing up to integrate those applications and, perhaps more importantly, provide the ongoing expertise required to manage them.