Integration as a Service

Most large enterprises typically employ more than one type of Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) technology.  Though these systems may have functioned well for their intended purposes over the years, they are often now a barrier to effective business operation.  As virtual “islands of integration” operating with proprietary or non-standard message and data formats, these EAI hubs may inhibit the cost effective integration of applications required by constantly evolving business processes. 

It is possible to reduce the impact of multiple EAI systems by exposing application integration capabilities as Enterprise Services.  Once exposed as a Service, often through an Enterprise Service Bus (or ESB) to standardize messaging and data formats, the point of integration itself can become a service.  Applications can then invoke these services using this “integration-as-a-Service” model.

Integration-as-a-Service depends on reliable, secure underlying enterprise services and federation of policy amongst any number of disparate EAI solutions.  However, this can be challenging to implement due to the need to coordinate the governance of those services as they migrate from planning through development and finally, operation.  Each activity is typically performed by different people in different areas of operation, with potentially little or no awareness of one another.  For example, in many heterogeneous EAI environments, certain platforms may be slated for retirement while others are advanced as emerging organizational standards. System planners need to be confident that there will be alignment of service planning with the long term platform preferences of the organization. 

A planning governance solution will help you determine the applicability of a particular integration technology to service candidates.  It will help you answer question about the requirements for their reliability, performance, security, and so forth.  For example, if an integration resource requires “once and once only” message transmission guarantees, then it will likely require more than a simple RESTful service.

Effective development governance for integration services will allow you to ensure that your services are as applicable and consumable as possible.  It will help you validate that integration services use appropriate information schemas and message exchange patterns, and will provide change management capabilities to maintain the stability of the applications that leverage these integration services.

Integration services will require operational governance to ensure that they meet defined service level and security requirements, and provide federation capabilities to make sure that services are readily consumable across technology, administrative, and organizational boundaries.  Most important for integration services is a consumer contract provisioning capability to effectively govern which applications use which integration services.

A unified governance solution provides consistent, uniform policy definition, validation, implementation and enforcement throughout the plan-build-run stages of the enterprise service lifecycle.  For example, policy governance for integration services will allow architects to define SLA and security requirements in terms of associated policies that can then be validated through development and implemented and enforced in operations.  The policy governance solution should provide extensive message exchange pattern and security token mediation capabilities allowing services to be consumed by applications regardless of technology or platform.

Akana’s product suite manages SOA Governance throughout the plan-build-run service lifecycle, anchoring the process with strong policy governance. In planning, Akana’s Portfolio Manager allows planning stakeholders to develop an SOA roadmap, compare it to existing and planned services, and assign priority to selected services.  In development, Akana’s Repository Manager makes sure that enterprise services confirm to appropriate standards and guidelines, providing powerful change management capabilities.  It also governs the consumption process, facilitating controlled and measurable asset reuse. When services are deployed, Akana’s Service Manager implements and enforces defined policies for security, performance, and reliability to ensure that enterprise services function as intended.  Akana’s Policy Manager works in concert with these products to keep policy definitions, and associated metadata, consistent as the service matures from planning through development and then into operation.