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Building on Opportunity

Integrate cloud and existing in-house systems

4/6/2016 12:30:00 AM | Cloud is now one of the established ways of consuming IT services. At present, there is significant focus on hybrid clouds, which are a cloud-computing environment that use a combination of on-premises private clouds and third party public cloud services.

What can be done to integrate cloud services with your existing IT servers, networks, business systems and applications? How does an enterprise make it happen? This article explores the IT skills necessary to build an integration design and it reviews software, services and appliance solutions from IBM that are used to make integration possible.

Cloud Integration Is a Process

When discussing integrating cloud with other systems and services, the tendency is to think about infrastructure like networks, servers and storage. We think about infrastructure for good reason. Having different infrastructure able to transport data between platforms is essential; however, integration is the process of configuring multiple application programs to share data. In a network that facilitates integration, different applications communicate either directly with one another or through special-purpose software designed to bridge cloud services and other existing infrastructure.

Framework for Cloud Integration

The Open Group, a global consortium focusing on IT standards, finds that the subject matter expert plays a key role to achieve success with optimizing the value of integration projects. The Open Group calls out cloud integration architecture considerations including service management for monitoring performance and availability, solution and service endpoints that use technology—like RESTful APIs—that make them easier to integrate, and multi-tenant business applications that have adopted the pay-per-use paradigm. In short, trained IT people play an important role is shaping the way integration takes place. View the complete list of integration attributes. 

Software to Bridge Cloud Services

A new type of middleware has emerged called cloud integration software that’s a product or service that helps make integration possible between an organization’s onsite non-cloud-based business assets with cloud-based resources. APIs are a main mechanism for hybrid cloud integration. They can be used for integrating on-premises and cloud applications quickly and for externalizing services so they can be easily found and utilized.

APIs and other hybrid cloud integration tools address the challenge of timely combination of emergent data sources and technologies. As developers create applications that leverage new computing approaches, companies can supply them with existing data at the same time using new data sources. This give and take is where APIs and related tools can have a significant impact on the business.

IBM APIs and Hybrid Cloud Integration Products

IBM APIs and hybrid cloud integration products make it possible to quickly integrate cloud and on-premises applications. The IBM API Management group of products has software tools to create, manage and share application-programming interfaces in a secure and accessible environment.

The integration solutions from IBM come in three forms: software, services and appliances. After gathering your requirements and creating an overall design, you pick and choose the elements you need using the implementations that you prefer, e.g., using a solution in house versus a service run in a multi-tenant infrastructure.

Software Solutions

There are three products in the software solutions category:

  1. IBM API Connect
  2. IBM WebSphere MQ Hypervisor Edition for Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server
  3. IBM z/OS Connect Enterprise Edition
As you will read, API Connect is a generalized programming tool whereas the other software supports specific platforms and related middleware.

IBM API Connect

IBM API Connect supports the API lifecycle for both on-premises and cloud environments. It’s used to create, run and manage APIs and microservices. The main features include automated API creation and runtime management to develop, deploy, scale, manage and monitor on-premises or on cloud with Node.js and Java runtimes. Also included are the monitoring and management of APIs. Data security features make use of a built-in gateway.

IBM WebSphere MQ Hypervisor Edition for Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server
The power and usefulness of MQ series as an integration tool is well known in the industry. IBM WebSphere MQ Hypervisor Edition for Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server provides WebSphere MQ messaging in virtualized environments by combining and delivering the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server OS with WebSphere MQ as a virtual image for use with VMware ESX servers. This software implementation is also optimized for cloud implementation projects.

IBM z/OS Connect Enterprise Edition
IBM z/OS Connect Enterprise Edition extends the usefulness of applications that run on z/OS by fostering the creation of efficient and scalable APIs for mobile and cloud applications. z/OS Connect supplies intuitive tooling that enables a developer, with or without z/OS-skills, to create RESTful APIs from traditional z/OS system-based assets.

Services

For the products in this category, services are defined as cloud-based or multitenant implementations of the software combined with tools, automation and support. There are three products in this category:

  1. IBM API Connect on Cloud
  2. IBM WebSphere Cast Iron Live
  3. IBM WebSphere Cast Iron Live for Federal
IBM API Connect on Cloud
IBM API Management on Cloud is a cloud-based service for designing, securing, socializing and managing APIs. It provides the same functionality as IBM API Management (the on-premises version) in a multitenant cloud-based service, which reduces installation and administration efforts. The services provide a developer portal to assist application developers and to support the use of published APIs. An administration portal is used to establish policies for API attributes including self-registration, quotas, and key management and security policies.

IBM WebSphere Cast Iron Live
IBM WebSphere Cast Iron Live is a multitenant, cloud-based platform for integrating cloud and on-premises applications and enterprise systems in a hybrid environment. This service makes it possible to configure, run and manage integration in the cloud without new in-house infrastructure. WebSphere Cast Iron Live is available in two editions: The Standard Edition uses a suite of connectors and hundreds of Template Integration Projects (TIP) to integrate applications. The Enterprise Edition provides a connector development kit that enables developers to build custom connectors. It also includes a template development kit to convert integration projects into templates that quicken integration.

IBM WebSphere Cast Iron Live for US Federal
IBM WebSphere Cast Iron Live for US Federal is a multitenant, cloud-based platform for integrating cloud and on-premise applications and enterprise systems in U.S. government-based hybrid environments. WebSphere Cast Iron Live for US Federal meets requirements for the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program and Federal Information Security Management Act (low and moderate values).

Virtual and Physical Appliances

There are two products in this category:

  1. IBM WebSphere Cast Iron Hypervisor Edition
  2. IBM WebSphere DataPower Cast Iron Appliance XH40
IBM WebSphere Cast Iron Hypervisor Edition
IBM WebSphere Cast Iron Hypervisor Edition is a virtual appliance that can be installed on existing servers through virtualization technology. WebSphere Cast Iron Hypervisor Edition is available in a standard edition with data synchronization and data migration scenarios and access TIPs. The enterprise edition has additional features providing connectivity to ERP and CRM applications and application endpoints support, which supplies pre-built connectors to hundreds of other applications through support for industry standards such as SOAP, REST, JSON, XML and others.

IBM WebSphere DataPower Cast Iron Appliance XH40
IBM WebSphere DataPower Cast Iron Appliance XH40 is a self-contained, physical appliance that provides what is needed to connect cloud and on-premise applications. It can be installed and managed within a local data center.
The appliance employs graphical, configuration-not-coding approach rather than custom coding.

How to Get Started?

A pilot integration project is the recommended way to get started. As part of an integration pilot, the team would define a list of requirements. A subset of these requirements—e.g., “implement a sample set of APIs that connect selected applications running on z/OS with a recently deployed in-house private cloud”—would be identified and used in the project.

These requirements would determine the overall design for the integration activities and drive the selection of software, services or appliances to be utilized for the project. The project team would document its success and challenges and use these findings to inform future projects. There’s no better time than the present to do this as the products to support these efforts have matured and gained acceptance.

Proactive IT personnel have begun to develop their skillsets in technical support, systems analysis, testing, security architecture, systems architecture and enterprise architecture all with a specific focus on integration with cloud and non-cloud environments.

Joseph Gulla is the IT leader of Alazar Press, a publisher of children’s literature.


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