As technology advances at an ever-quickening pace, modern businesses are increasingly dependent on IT infrastructure for the day-to day-running of their company. Previously, many businesses would rely on a single system to handle all the IT functionality they required – from sales to finance and HR.
Today, it’s typical to have a whole host of systems and applications working parallel to each other, often on different platforms. With so many individual services working in tandem, a systems integration (SI) is essential to ensure all of your IT solutions and subsystems are streamlined, functioning in collaboration and running at optimum efficiency.
The power of individual software applications is not only in the functionality that they provide, but in their ability to communicate amongst themselves. In order to make data travel effortlessly through the work environment, these systems must be integrated together correctly also improving how a company operates as a collective.
Benefits of a Systems Integration Project
A systems integration project can unite separate subsystems and streamline efficiency across both new and old, creating a centralised network where vital existing systems and new applications coexist. Well-executed, systems integration unlocks a cohesive architecture, lowers operational costs, and increases work-flow efficiency. Most importantly for businesses with vital existing systems, this process empowers you to remain digitally innovative.
CIO magazine estimates that up to 40% of all enterprise technology spend will go towards digital transformation this year, as organisations adopt innovative applications to cater for growing IT requirements. Systems integration enables digital transformation by aligning previously separate digital technology within your organisation’s business strategy, both across your IT environment and internal teams. This means essential existing systems remain in use and become integrated with new applications or software, removing tedious workloads, improving collaboration for staff, and providing a connected IT environment.
Undertaking a SI project is often not a simple process, but with the right guidance you can ensure it's as seamless as possible. Below are some key considerations to be aware of during your SI project.
The Building Blocks of Successful Systems Integration
The ultimate goal of a systems integration project is to successfully merge applications or systems to add value to your business while leaving your day-to-day processes unaffected. What should be considered first?
New technology can create vast interconnected webs of systems and applications that span both legacy and new infrastructure, leaving organisations with disjointed or inefficient IT environments. When disparate systems are incompatible, businesses are limited by what they can do, and, without the expert help of experienced developers, innovation can grind to a halt.
You have to ensure that interconnected systems or components perform their required functions while sharing the same environment.
Certain legacy systems can make an integration project more complex, so its important to consider whether it would be more beneficial to replace it, or add layers of technology on top of it — to control both older software and the newer components. Outdated legacy tools and software can have a detrimental effect on your business, including the inability to properly interface with new systems and equipment. This can increase maintenance costs, and there's often a higher chance of malfunction — so it's crucial you evaluate what you want to maintain or upgrade, and what you can effectively get rid of.
Choice of Integration
Defining what a SI means to your business is essential. It’s crucial for you and your team to decide what you aim to get out of your future IT infrastructure. You should first identify system requirements and what resources you will need to succeed. This means developing an overall strategy, noting down your vision, goals and objectives for the integration – and planning accordingly.
Every company will use different applications, subsystems and tools to achieve their goals – so make sure your team and anyone working on the integration know exactly what your needs and wants are. Is your main focus implementing cloud integration to add applications to your cloud-based platform? Are you more concerned with streamlining your data flow for automatic, routine check ups? These are questions you need to answer before you begin your project, as they will define what your systems integration sets out to accomplish and what you need to get there.
It can be easy to prioritise new technologies and integrations in the excitement of delivering improved customer and user experiences, but it’s important to remember to keep your system secure and prevent any lapses in security.
Connectivity and security constraints should be established and dealt with early on in the project, as those can often be reasons for a project to be delayed or even fail altogether. The main security concerns you should be aware of are missing firewall rules and required certificates, setup of new security roles and input credentials, incompatibilities between source and target system protocols, and the opening of new data channels. It's essential that you follow the requirements of your security plan and adjust it as needed to anticipate new threats, and ensure your customers' data is always protected.
An effective systems integration will streamline and optimise all of your services, making it easier for your company to function as a unit.
But in the wake of your new technology and applications, its worth remembering to keep your focus on customers.
It's much more beneficial to find services that boost customer experience and encourage them to fully engage with your digital work-space, than to have impressive technology that isn't properly set-up with the end-user in mind.
Adopting a DevOps state-of-mind
Although they remain different concepts, DevOps and Systems Integration are intrinsically linked by overlapping ideas and similar goals. While Systems Integration helps brings an organisation’s technology together, the ethos of DevOps is of separate departments working in collaboration and close communication with one another.
Taking stock of your IT infrastructure, and working to better improve how it interacts, provides the perfect opportunity to evaluate how well it facilitates collaboration between departments. Which is to say, an SI project is also the perfect time to undergo a DevOps project.
At VASSIT, we’re experts at helping businesses operate better digitally. Check out our resources to find out more about getting started with Systems Integration, and click here to dig deeper into what it means to have a DevOps state-of-mind – or click the image below.