Integration 101: Build it or Buy it?

build or buy integration

Integration 101: Build it or Buy it?

In the next post of our Integration 101 series, we’ll explore the tradeoffs of doing an integration yourself versus purchasing a preconfigured software. Deciding whether to build or buy an integration solution can be challenging. Companies with tighter deadlines and lower budgets may feel more inclined to build their own integration system if they have the IT staff to accomplish it. The hope is, by using their own talent to build the solution, the company can accomplish the integration for less investment, have more control over the process, and can customize the solution specific to their business needs. The downfall of this approach is that crafting a scalable and personalized solution is often much more complex than imagined, and even if a working solution is developed, data security and system agility are still concerns.

So, why do people build their own solutions? Are there certain scenarios when integrating on your own is better? How do you know if you need expert guidance? What can an expert bring to the table that you may be missing? Let’s answer some of those questions today.

What Must an Integration Solution Do?

Let’s start with the basics. Regardless of how customized any system may be, all integration solutions must have the innate ability to perform certain baseline tasks. The integration solution must have tools that factor in multiple layers of connectivity, scalability, and security. In short, the solution must:

  • Connect to on-premise or Cloud platforms with the ability to connect a hybrid of the two
  • Handle changing data volumes and be able to scale to those volumes
  • Be configurable for custom fields and functions
  • Be equipped with powerful data security measures
  • Connect different types of systems and applications
  • Support agile development
  • Have an interface that makes sense to developers and citizen developers

Building an Integration Solution

We mentioned before that many companies want to build their own integration solution to cut costs and gain direct control of their data project. Companies with unique requirements may view this as a valuable option because the internal development team is already versed on the complexities of the system and can code the solution the way they prefer. However, there are a few key considerations.

A. Data security is a critical question. What measures will be put in place to guarantee data is safe? Prebuilt solutions have multiple layers of security.

B. Do you have a plan for cleaning your data first? Imagine you are moving and packing up boxes of your belongings. You wouldn’t pack up the garbage, right? Before ANY data project begins, the data must be prepared by removing duplicates and discarding any “junk” data.

C. An in-house integration system won't be dynamic for other data integration projects. Integrations are point-to-point with both home grown and iPaaS solutions. However, using an iPaaS platform allows the user to focus on the point-to-point logic without distraction from mapping, scheduling, monitoring, notifications, etc. If it is home grown, the user spend lots of time on these aspects in addition to point-to-point logic, which can easily become overwhelming. With a purchased platform, as long as the user can to do what they need to with the logic, they will not need to focus their energies on manually managing the other aspsects of the integration.

BUILDING PROS:

  • Developers already familiar with custom fields
  • Don’t have to learn a new/outside tool
  • Developers have more control over solution
  • Can be cost efficient if connectivity and integration are simple

BUILDING CONS:

  • May not have level of scalability or security necessary
  • More complex integrations require more skilled resources to design, implement, and maintain the custom solution
  • Without advanced tools, integration may not move all required data
  • Endpoints change over time and require upkeep
  • Business workflows change over time and require upkeep
  • Failure to upkeep endpoints or business workflows can break the integration and limit scalability
  • Quick changes to integration require developer help
  • No innate data cleaning abilities

Buying an Integration Solution

Prebuilt integration solutions are like any other software: they cover the basic functions but need some tweaking to personalize for your business. The great thing about buying a solution is that most systems are equipped with the connectors you’d be lacking if you built it yourself. That means less work up front for the integration team and a faster up-time from start to finish. A few integration solutions also offer the ability to integrate through a firewall, which would otherwise be an obstacle for businesses working with hybrid systems.

The initial cost of a prebuilt solution feels heftier than the cost to divert resources internally, but the development and testing required to get the homegrown solution up-to-par could end up costing about the same or even more in the end. It all depends on how complex your integration truly is, how many developers with expertise are working on it, and how many slowdowns you run into during your testing process.

BUYING PROS:

  • Integration platforms typically designed to maximize data throughout
  • Community of experts available on forums and developer reference sites
  • Data security measures are built in
  • Advanced tools typically used by integration experts such as data cleansing, data conversion tools, binary or file conversion, support for advanced entity relationships, and support for querying end-point metadata included
  •  Infrastructure gives baseline to build custom fields
  • Connectors pre-built, well tested, and provide advanced capabilities such as search and bulk updates for best performance

BUYING CONS:

  • Investment needed to learn a new tool
  • iPaaS typically requires data to loop through Cloud-based servers
  • Ongoing subscription or license maintenance fees

Which One is Right for You?

To build or to buy? That is the question.

Build a solution if…

  • Having an in-house integration system will deliver unique advantages for your business
  • There aren’t any services that do what you need the integration to do
  • You have minimal systems and a strong developer team
  • You have structured plans for data security, system scalability, and data cleaning

Buy a solution if…

  • You are worried about data preparation and security measures
  • Access to support experts is important to you
  • Your unique integration requirements can be met by an adaptable solution
  • Your development team is too small or inexperienced to effectively build an integration