In the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for On-premises Application Integration Suites#, Software AG has been positioned as a leader with the furthest position on both axes. But does this ranking really matter? To an IT professional who relies on such technologies day in day out, does using #1 integration technology make a real difference? Does it help you with your basic, perennial needs such as adopting new technologies faster or keeping up with new business demands and changes or improving developer productivity?

I think these questions are worth exploring. If you are like any of my other customers, you consider IT a key differentiator for your organization. Understanding the context and criteria behind the ranking will allow you to make your own decision as to whether it matters to you.

So let’s take a step back and understand what’s happening in the market lately. In this post we have already established that rapid innovation requires integration. Just as a quick recap –

Businesses need integration for rapid innovation

The nexus of the four forces – cloud, mobile, social and big data is creating unparalleled business opportunities. At the same time, it has led to some new challenges such as

avoiding siloed cloud-based solutions by syncing them with the systems of record and an unprecedented proliferation of data, services, and devices. Integration allows companies to establish a strong and flexible foundation to build new applications. It helps manage growing data, devices, and services and leverage investments in existing IT infrastructure.


Integration is more relevant today than ever

Although integration isn’t a new concept, it is more relevant today than ever. The nexus of four forces has created requirements that need to be addressed urgently in order to avoid potential loss of market share and leadership. Integration helps address these requirements allowing companies to take full advantage of the business opportunities created by the nexus. A few such examples are:

  • Expanding business channels to include mobile users and public APIs
  • Combining events generated by the ‘internet of things’ with internal data for analytics
  • Ensuring data consistency and quality across enterprise applications and processes

It’s not your grandma’s integration anymore

Integration today is not just about enterprise application integration. It has also evolved far beyond just onboarding partners and exchanging electronic documents. Today it includes integrating applications no matter where they are deployed – in the cloud as a service, on mobile devices, inside your firewall, or at your partner sites. It supports managing API access by 3rd party developers to your internal data and capabilities. It ensures that all interactions between applications and users are governed by automated enforcement of your organization’s policies and standards. Given this –

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a single comprehensive integration platform?

Such an integration platform will allow you to easily integrate and manage disparate applications, mobile devices, services, big data and APIs wherever they are – in the cloud or on-premise. It will come with an implementation methodology based on best practices in industry and access to consulting expertise. In fact, it would be great if such a platform –

  • Was used widely by organizations like yours and has been around for many years
  • Added new capabilities on a regular basis in a backward-compatible fashion
  • Had functionality that could be added as building blocks for gradual adoption as per your needs
  • Came with governance baked in for alignment with your policies and standards

Gartner stresses the importance of these attributes in its report

According to Gartner#, “Many users are looking to support their integration projects with an integrated suite provided by one vendor, thus eliminating the burden to act as a system integrator for application infrastructure.” Leaders in this Magic Quadrant are “vendors with a proven, comprehensive and integrated set of products” who have been very responsive to market trends over the years and have demonstrated strong commitment. What differentiated the leaders themselves, Gartner notes, is that although all the offerings were rich and mature “in some cases, they're biased toward the vendor's packaged application portfolio” and at times “considered too complex or too expensive for organizations with minimal experience in systematic application integration.”

You can read the full report and make your own decision. Also share your thoughts on what capabilities and attributes you value the most in enterprise integration tools by leaving a comment below.

# Gartner Magic Quadrant for On-Premises Application Integration Suites by Jess Thompson, Yefim V. Natis, Massimo Pezzini, Daniel Sholler, Ross Altman, Kimihiko Iijima, published 27 June 2013

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