Build vs. Buy Integrations
*This is a guest blog by SeeUnity CEO and Co-founder, Dan Anderson featuring SeeUnity CTO and Co-founder, Dan Hunsinger.
As organizations’ ecosystems of applications grow, so too does their need to integrate various solutions. We often work with organizations that are considering building a custom integration or buying one. In mine, and Dan Hunsinger’s, perspectives, this decision is a no-brainer.
Custom integrations – a viable option
In many cases, building an integration is a viable option for organizations. In these cases, organizations have the capacity to build the integration and the need to get it done quickly. Integrations that are built like this are typically very specific, point-to-point integrations. Integrations like this connect two systems and data often remains in its original state. If the need is simply to connect two systems, building an integration in-house is a fine option. This option is fast, and it saves on upfront costs.
What makes these kinds of custom built integrations unsustainable in the long term is that they often end up unsupported. In most cases, custom integrations are not included or supported by the Service Level Agreement (SLA) signed with the application vendor. Not only do they become unsupported through the vendor, but they can become unsupported internally. Customers have come to us with integrations built a few years ago by someone who has since left the organization seeking support for it or a way to get rid of it. In these situations, organizations get vendors or consultants involved, which means spending extra time and money to fix a broken integration, just to do it all over again when a new upgrade of either integrated application rolls out.
Advanced integrations are bought
We are finding that fewer organizations are building custom integrations. Often, organizations need to integrate at an API level to maintain different kinds of features and functionality and this has outweighed their need to get something done quickly. As API’s have matured, the need for advanced integrations has increased. Additionally, with more cloud applications available, many organizations have outsourced their IT entirely. A more popular option these days when organizations are looking for integrations is to go through some sort of consultant. Their IT staff usually consists of managers that coordinate with consulting firms and arrange contracts.
Organizations buy integrations that are more advanced and flexible than custom integrations. This helps lower the risk that comes with integrating applications. Dan Hunsinger puts this into context when saying, “If you buy an integration, and you are customer number 101, the integration is going to work. Whereas, when you build a custom solution in-house, you also have to be willing to spend the time to work through bugs.”
Write once, connect to many
From the inception of SeeUnity, the goal has always been to make it easier for organizations to integrate into many systems. Lately, we’ve invested a lot of time in developing our REST API to make our products extendable. This allows us to offer a “write once, connect to many” framework to our customers. Our Core Integration Services (CIS) allows the flexibility to hook into various kinds of applications at an API level, giving customers the ability to connect and extend their applications through the various SeeUnity products. Customers have the freedom of not maintaining another system’s API while still reaping the benefits of an advanced integration.
Dan and I are both in agreement that the trend of buying integrations vs. building them is going to continue. The Cloud and mature API’s have moved the market toward this trend. As cloud gains popularity, the need for advanced and supported integrations will too.