Maybe Halloween is behind us but we still need to overcome our fears. While talking to other professionals, I learned that one of the biggest fears is committing to put SharePoint in the middle of your organization (as it should be). And the main reason for these fears is that to do that, you must integrate with the other applications/systems/databases/etc. in the organization. Don’t get me wrong, SharePoint’s API and features make it a great system to integrate with. I am talking about the fear of integrating to other systems; these can present big challenges.
When you are looking for an integration solution, you need to overcome your fears of these seven challenges:
Most, if not all, organizations have at least one: a system that cannot be put to rest. You must be able to access legacy applications and databases without altering their code. This is especially important in distribution organizations, where legacy data must be accurate and accessible at all times.
We are not living in a perfect world--usually, there is more than one OS, database or platform. You must be able to work with multiple platforms and servers, ensuring smooth integration of the entire system. It must include data migration and transformation functionality and the ability to work concurrently with multiple databases.
No matter what we plan, we usually find ourselves developing new code to address the challenge. If only there was a solution that would give managers the ability to define business flows without programming, preferably via a drag-and-drop interface.
Visibility and Discovery
Almost all systems expose some of their parts to the world. Some using methods, operations, Web Services or even simple comma delimited files. If only there was a solution that would give you the means to self discover those APIs and present functions in a visual, graphic way.
BPM (Business Process Management) Centric
Ask the experts and they will tell you that BPM centric approach is a key factor for a successful integration. Thus, you must use a BPM-centric tool, allowing definition of business processes and logic as well as continuous management and performance monitoring.
More and more systems and solutions are ported to the Cloud or being developed on the Cloud. You must provide support for new standards and technologies as well as Web Services and XML support, allowing full Cloud connectivity and functionality.
Incremental and Scalable
Integration does not end with a single project. The needs of the organization change and grow with time; it is crucial for the solution to grow with them. You must create a scalable solution that includes distributed processes which can be run on multiple servers.
But fear not, there are solutions out there that can help overcome those fears. And like a flashlight for those who fear the dark, they can light your way for a successful integration with SharePoint. When we move beyond these fears to discuss what Forrester Research calls “integration-centric business process management suites (IC-BPMS)” then we can truly begin to make progress with our SharePoint implementations and move SharePoint into the central position in our organization that it deserves.
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