There comes a point in every organization’s data and system integration process when, like Robert Frost, they are faced with two diverging roads. Once organizations have identified their data integration needs and defined the fundamentals of their enterprise systems, they must make the choice to Buy or Build.
With over a decade in the integration business, we know this can be an overwhelming choice. That’s why we assembled 4 items all organizations should consider as they make the choice between a productized, off-the-shelf integration solution or a custom-coded integration. But first, what do we mean by custom or off-the-shelf integration solutions?
Before integration software and platforms existed, organizations that wanted to connect their enterprise systems, like GIS or Asset Management, would outsource developers or leverage internal IT resources to write custom code connecting their systems.
Productized, off-the-shelf integration software was developed to reduce the burden on organizations custom coding their integrations. With COTS integration software, like Geonexus, organizations need only install the software and configure it to connect their enterprise systems.
So, how do custom and off-the-shelf solutions compare?
Any business savvy organization wants the best solution for their enterprise integration with the least amount of dedicated time and resources. Custom integrations require organizations to have dedicated outside development resources or internal IT resources on hand to write thousands of lines of code to integrate systems. With commercial off-the-shelf software, like Geonexus, the coding has already been done, leaving only configuration. For this step, COTS solutions typically provide a team of integration experts to help install, configure, and test the integration, reducing the burden on IT teams.
Integration time to completion depends heavily on the complexity of the integration and the quantity of data. Typically, though, custom integration can take anywhere from six months to two years, whereas a productized solution might take several weeks or a couple months to stand up.
Enabling citizen integrators is a big draw for productized integration solutions. As noted above, with custom integration, only highly technical resources are capable of making changes or updates to the integration. This can lead to large backlogs of IT work order requests or hefty outside contractor fees.
Many off-the-shelf solutions, including the Geonexus Integration Platform, solve this issue by equipping all users with an accessible interface where they can configure their integration with ease. Plus, with Geonexus, business, technical, and field users are empowered with automatically created data quality reports each time data is synced, providing a transparent view into data errors, discrepancies or changes that need fixing.
At Geonexus, many of our customers came to us after experiencing version lock within their custom integrations. Version lock occurs when an organization wants to update their enterprise systems (like SAP, Maximo or GIS) to the latest versions, but can’t update because their integration was custom coded to older software versions. This is not only frustrating, but also holds organizations back from experiencing what newer software versions have to offer.
Geonexus keeps our Library of Connectors up to date with the latest version of our supported software so that organizations can upgrade at any time without fear of breaking their integration.
We’ve been writing a lot about the Esri Utility Network (UN) on our blog, so it should come as no surprise that this is a key item to consider when choosing an integration method. Utilities organizations transitioning from Esri’s Geometric Network (GN) to their UN must consider how their integrations will fare in the transition. With a custom-coded integration, organizations may face a version lock problem, meaning their integration will break when they transition from GN to UN.
The Geonexus Integration Platform not only can migrate organizations from GN to UN, but it also keeps integrations intact using an incremental migration method.
If you are still questioning how to get started with data and application integration, check out our recent webinar, Best Practices for Integration: 5 Factors to Consider or reach out to an integration expert for a free consultation today!