Do you remember your first interface?
If you do, chances are likely that it was a custom point-to-point interface, very expensive, took many months to finish, and it did not necessarily meet all of your needs. Right?
Ouch. Let’s not go back to that ever again.
Welcome to the next generation of integration = faster, better, and cheaper. Interfaces can now be done in hours. They are also designed to meet specific needs, and the cost can be contained, i.e. minimize the customization on the vendor sides.
Believe me, this is true, though it sounds too good to be true. I understand because I, too, was a non-believer when I worked for one of those vendors.
The typical process as I remember it back then looked something like this over a year, if I were lucky:
1. Customer calls to explain they need an interface
2. Customers are redirected to inside sales to get a quote
3. Customer approves quote
4. Request is sent to the integration team queue
5. After the queue wait time which could be weeks or months, the request is evaluated
6. Specifications for the interface are discussed, documented and confirmed
7. Interface goes to the development black hole
8. Months later, you are told the interface is in your test environment for testing
9. You test and it doesn’t work
10. Repeat steps 8 and 9 until it works and pray it does not fall out of the scope such that you end up back at step 6
11. Plan, schedule and deploy into production
12. Troubleshoot production issues until interface stabilizes
I failed to mention the organizational politics and red tape, the lack of response or interest after time, and attrition over the year for any or all of the parties involved.
Then when you think you are done, the support burden kicks in. It was amazing to see from the vendor perspective that the interfacing module (20% of the product) caused about 80% of the support tickets that could only be supported by less than 20% of my staff.
Interfaces were downright no fun.
That was then, this is now.
Now, I can configure an interface to go into system testing in minutes to hours. Interfaces can go live in days, or a few weeks at most. All the interfaces can be centrally monitored. I get proactive alerts if something is wrong rather than a call from the floor, tech, or doctor.
May not perfect, but life is much better with the new technologies in the integration world.