Day 2 of the Gartner Application Architecture, Development and Integration Conference in London and I can’t help but ask myself, “Does the combination of cloud, mobile, social and data usher in the eventual end of the stand alone application? There’s a frank reality that these four ‘movements’, called the Nexus of Forces by Gartner, intersect at the crossroads of application integration.
Anyone purchasing standalone functionality, unless it is truly unique in the marketplace, will quickly realize the difficulty of integration with existing and future systems.
Combine the need for integration of standalone applications with the expectations of business leaders that all software should be up and running in days or weeks not months, and single-purpose software begins to risk being complex and costly. There’s enough cynicism about the IT department without inviting even more by fragmenting the architecture across multiple vendor technologies and creating weak links in the business technology chain.
The investor market will continue to pour money into startups, but I have to believe those ventures will struggle to compete with integrated platforms that offer an ability to address the entire Nexus simultaneously, something every enterprise needs desperately. A great example would be today’s IPO of Tableau Software, a product that has become hot as the big data analytics market rapidly expands but is a relatively immature product that lacks much of the functionality of its competitors. The fact that the Tableau IPO price has risen in recent days demonstrates that the VC’s aren’t necessarily aware of these integration challenges and are more affected by the hype around big data.
What the IPO does show clearly is the recognized value of putting big data analytics in the hands of business experts rather than down in the bowels of the organization or within IT. Today’s analytics tools are remarkably good at visualizing enormous data sets, especially when paired up with powerful integration platforms that allow a wide variety of data to be collected, normalized, and acted upon using real-time technologies like in-memory data grids. Too often, big data is seen as being about “powerful insights.” Talking with companies that are having great success with big data, however, the real trick of big data is acting quickly when those insights are revealed.