"Integration" has long been the holy grail of information technology, the everlasting quest of all technology efforts large and small. Backend applications always needed hooks, ladders and interfaces, with silos continuing to sprout across the landscape. Now there are clouds galore that need to be brought into the enterprise. We have APIs and microservices on the scene to help connect things in a more expedient manner. The problem, however, is organizational, security and skills issues which are preventing these labor-saving tools from reaching their full potential.
APIs and microservices have brought us a long way toward the vision of relatively seamless integration, a recent survey of 950 IT executives by Software AG and Vanson Bourne shows. Ninety-three percent are sold on the concept of API management with microservices, agreeing that they delivers. While the verdict is almost unanimous, IT executives say it's been difficult to get everyone in their organization on the same page with how they should be deployed.
General integration solutions are now commonplace in organizations, with 99% using one. Organizations are most likely to be running some form of hybrid integration solution, both on-premises and in the cloud (64%), versus cloud-only (23%) and on-premises only (12%).
Drilling down to APIs, more than eight of 10 (86%) believe their organizations would be working in silos without the use of APIs. Nearly just as many (79%) said they employ APIs for digital transformation projects. A majority, 53%, point to the flexibility APIs provide as their top benefit. Almost half also cite the ability to integrate cloud applications and services into their mixes.
Despite widespread adoption, barriers remain that limit APIs, microservices and integration systems from being maximized. Notably, concerns around lacking the needed skillset exists across all areas. The top three challenges faced when utilizing APIs include: ensuring API security; limited staff skillset to utilize APIs; and risk to scalability and quality of service (40%).
- Flexibility when it comes to the delivery of services/information 53%
- Allows cloud applications and services to be integrated with other systems 49%
- Ability to create and personalize custom user experiences 49%
- Faster time to market for new products/services 46%
- Reduced time to integrate with other systems 46%
- Easier to integrate with B2B partners 45%
- Ability to gain customer insights 39%
- Ensuring API security 48%
- Limited staff skillsets 41%
- Risk to scalability and quality of service 40%
- Lack of API-enabled technology stack 38%
- Issues with creating/developing them 36%
- Issues with managing them 34%
While IT executives worry about the security of APIs, microservices puts some of those concerns to rest -- a majority, 51%, say microservices help deliver greater security. Similar to APIs, microservices mean greater agility, as also cited by the majority.
Most IT leaders, 81%, now employ microservices within their organization to some extent and almost a fifth (18%) don't use microservices currently, but plan to in the future. Microservices are the building blocks of emerging service meshes as well -- the majority (85%) of those whose organization is already using microservices claim that they are currently using service mesh as part of microservices management, the survey finds. The survey's authors define a service mesh as "a dedicated infrastructure layer for facilitating service-to-service communications between microservices, often using a sidecar proxy."
Challenges faced or expected with microservices initiatives include the ability to secure organizational support through funding and staff. Complexity also is a limiting factor.
- Greater business agility 55%
- Improved security 51%
- Greater ease of scalability 50%
- Easier for teams to focus on their part 50%
- Addresses architectural need to support services 49%
- Easier to fix bugs in specific areas 48%
- Limited budget to invest 48%
- Limited staff skillset to utilize microservices 47%
- Difficult to manage the entire IT environment 45%
- Complexity 45%
- Integration of different apps/services is more difficult 45%