We all agree that customer-centric digital businesses and the up rise of connected devices (hyper connectivity) opens up endless opportunities and possibilities for organizations. The movement of interconnecting everything and everyone (Partners, IoT devices, Big Data, Mobile, Social, SaaS, PaaS) should not be taken lightly and will be having significant impact on the size of ecosystems and modern application architectures. Organizations nowadays are already shifting and steadily expanding their organizational boundaries towards the outside world leading to thrust boundaries in which the urgent need exists to expose organizational assets and data sources in a secure and flexible manner. What will be the impact on integration?
Where we used to build traditional integration solutions like an ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) for integrating and orchestrating disparate front-end and backend applications (CRM, ERP, SCM, Finance etc.), we now see that these solutions are not able to stretch outside the organizational boundaries without any security risks. On the other hand the functionality of protocol bridging, data format and data type transformation will no longer be needed outside the organizational boundaries given the fact that we see most product vendors (especially SaaS providers) offering standardized interfaces based on open (industry) standards such as REST and JSON. Also Microservices (do I need to mention “dump pipelines, smart endpoints”) will not require any additional integration effort.
“The question then arises as to do we still need integration if we all speak the same language?”
In my honest opinion the answer is simply yes, unless you want to (re)create “the mother of all” integration spaghetti (this time in a much bigger ecosystem, think about that again) that we were obsessively eliminating by implementing an ESB in the first place there is certainly need for a different type of integration solution that is able to securely and flexibly integrate and orchestrate the entire ecosystem (everything and everyone) whilst still being fully in control of it (also think about throttling). Add the fact that we are currently also in the process of breaking down monolithic application into a zillion Microservices and you may understand that we need to have some kind of a “place” where everything and everyone comes together to “integrate” and “discover“. Well guess what, that “place” exists and it is called an API Gateway & Management Platform.
An API Gateway & Management Platform is an enabler for digital innovation by exposing APIs in a secure and flexible manner towards the entire ecosystem interconnecting everything and everyone. Important part of the platform is a developer portal to on board and engage developers to use the APIs and the optional monetization of the APIs.
The most common misunderstanding however is that an API Gateway & Management platform is “just” an extension of the on-premise ESB towards the outside world, completely ignoring the fact that the platform is much more than that. From on-premise point of perspective that could be the case, but we need to look at it from a different point of view!
“In my opinion we should start thinking of the API Gateway & Management Platform as the successor of the traditional Enterprise Service Bus and (web) APIs as the new unit of integration logic. In other words, an API Gateway & Management Platform will be the key part of the next generation SOA architectural model.”
I strongly believe that that the API First strategy will quickly gain in popularity as well as Microservices and that the traditional ESB as we know it will eventually not survive the big migration towards the cloud. Protocol bridging, data format and data type transformation will not longer be relevant and asynchronous queuing and reliable messaging will be taken away by introducing tiny and lightweight cloud messaging solutions (f.e. RabbitMQ or Apache Kafka) making the traditional ESB as-is in the new world completely obsolete.
I have absolutely no clue on which term this will happen, and yes, that may take a long time and no, not every organization will be moving in the near future (they will first need to find and locate their legacy systems in the basement) but it will be inevitable, that is one thing that is for sure.