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Integration Trends: The Shift to Loosely-Coupled, Productized Integration Solutions



Humankind has been storing data since the Paleolithic era, when humans used the Ishango Bone and simple tally marks to track trading activity and supplies. The importance of data has kept humans searching for more ways to track and analyze data to the present day, leading to libraries, punch cards, computer disks, and more. Data storage and management has come a long way since 18,000 BCE.

With the importance of accurate and reliable data throughout the globe, in modern times we have seen an evolution of our own when it comes to data integration methods. Since Geonexus was founded in 2009, we have witnessed a dramatic shift from reliance on tightly-coupled, custom-coded integrations and ETL tools to the more streamlined, modern approach of loosely-coupled data integration platforms complete with easy-to-use functionality for configuring data for synchronization. Read on to learn about this shift in the context of GIS, Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), and Customer Information System (CIS) integration.

The Old Approach 

The most common older approach to data integration was having no integration at all. But, unintegrated data comes with myriad downsides, including data silos, extensive manual and dual data entry, lack of collaboration between GIS, EAM, and CIS teams, and uninformed business decisions.

With those downsides in mind, organizations began integrating data into data warehouses using the ETL (extract, transform, load) method to make data compatible between disparate systems. Though this allowed for large data transformations, the tightly-coupled, cumbersome nature of data warehouses was not suitable for data that was constantly changing and needed to be resynchronized often; as is the case with asset-intensive organizations’ data.

Custom-coded integrations became the next option for organizations. By connecting two systems, like IBM Maximo and Esri ArcGIS for example, using a tightly-coupled custom integration, data can flow back and forth between the two applications, allowing for up-to-date data in both systems. However, as we will see below, organizations are moving away from the custom code approach, and for good reason.

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The New Approach 

There is no denying that off-the-shelf Data Integration Platforms are the now and the future of data integration technology and methodology. With a productized, middleware solution, like the Geonexus Integration Platform, organizations can connect two systems, like Maximo and GIS, in a loosely-coupled manner, allowing each software to perform at its highest capacity without any interference.

Why the Shift to Off-the-Shelf Data Integration Platforms? 

Complexity 

As organizations continued to accumulate more complex data through evolving business and operational routines, they needed a more advanced, dynamic integration solution than what ETL or custom code could provide. For one, with more organizations moving their technology stack to the cloud, organizations needed a way to integrate both database and cloud-hosted solutions. Plus, with organizations collecting huge technology stacks and myriad data sources, data mapping became quite complex. While data mapping with custom code or ETL tools is a timely and resource intensive process, with an off-the-shelf tool, it is simplified.

Data Quality 

Quality data is key to business success. Without quality data, integration between systems becomes moot. Traditional ETL or custom-coded solutions often have no data quality reporting functionality, meaning users may go weeks or months without knowing about critical data errors or discrepancies. With off-the-shelf integration platform tools, including Geonexus, data quality reporting is built in so that users are sent automatic reports about all data creates, updates, discrepancies, and errors each time data is synchronized. With real-time knowledge about data quality, errors are resolved quickly and managers make data-informed decisions.

Version Lock 

From conversations with Utilities customers across the globe, we know that version lock is a major driver for organizations moving from old integration options to newer off-the-shelf solutions. Version lock is the inability to update software versions of your integrated systems for fear of breaking the existing integration. With a custom-coded integration, it is almost guaranteed that updating systems will break the integration and require massive recoding and redevelopment to fix.

Data Integration Platforms, with off-the-shelf connectors, are equipped to handle software version updates with no pause in integration. At Geonexus, for example, we stay up to date with the latest versions of all of our plug-and-play software connectors, so organizations can update to the newest versions with ease.

Maintenance and Support  

Ultimately, integration is about so much more than the initial connection. When it comes to long-term maintenance and support, custom code solutions with no user-interface are costly and resource-intensive to maintain. Take the examples above – anytime an organization wants to update software versions or experiences a data error or bug, they will need to dig into the code to solve the issue. This could require having special, costly development resources on call to fix these errors.

With a configurable data integration platform solution, on the other hand, users of all skill levels and backgrounds can reconfigure, make changes, and fix data errors within the integration solution’s user-interface. This saves time and money while also empowering employees to own their integration.

Conclusion 

Custom code and ETL tools are integration methods of the past. Learn how the Geonexus Integration Platform can help your organization integrate its GIS, EAM, and CIS systems with no-code: www.geo-nexus.com/platform.

We would love to show you what our Geonexus Integration Platform can do for you and your team. Submit your information, and we’ll be in touch.

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