Friday, July 18, 2014

Stitching Matters

photo credit to Deseret News Education Travel

Stitching matters.  Stitching holds disparate components and materials together in a form something close to what we had in mind as a solution to a problem. Could be clothes.  Could be wicker baskets.  In the tech world, stitching things together typically involves integrating components or services together into a unified solution.  And it matters. A lot.

I have a few applications on my mobile platforms that rely on integrated cloud storage services for saving my work.  Now, I've tried many cloud storage services. iCloud seems to be continually on the fritz for one reason or another.  Google Drive (or whatever they're calling it today) consumes CPU resources to the point that my devices start to smoke.  Dropbox has issues with losing data during sync. Box...well, they don't seem to really care about individual users anymore as they're not targeting enterprise users. Sky Drive, Live Drive, Hummingjay - you name it, I've probably tried it.  I finally settled on Copy: reliable, significant space for free, always working.

But, there's an issue with Copy.  Yup, you guessed it, no stitching.  I have yet to find spreadsheet, word processing, or presentation applications for mobile that integrate with Copy.  So I'll probably be moving back to Dropbox and leaving Copy...and backing up everything much more often.  Because I'd rather have a solution that works well some of the time than a solution that doesn't work at all.  Stitching matters.

Stitching is a differentiating factor in enterprise applications as well...especially if we're talking about SaaS.  From my worm's eye view of the enterprise applications market, I don't see many customers buying everything from a single SaaS vendor.  It's usually a mix of on-premise and SaaS, often involving multiple vendors. But those customers want unification across the enterprise:  single sign-on, single data source, consistent look and feel, a single business process, and so on.  So one of the bigger challenges in SaaS becomes stitching.  Not just doing it, but doing it well enough to meet expectations.  Stitching matters.

So when someone asks me for advice on choosing a SaaS provider, I always suggest that (among other things) potential buyers consider the stitching.  What integration comes pre-built out of the box?  Do the APIs and integration points comply with industry standards for SOAP and/or REST and/or JMS?  Are there cloud integration services available from the SaaS provider or a partner?  What stitching is available to handle larger data loads?  Can you do those data loads yourself or does the SaaS provider insist on doing them for you?  How about services integration with mobile platforms?  If the stitching doesn't meet your specific needs, will the SaaS provider assist?  If so, at what cost?  Stitching matters.

Now down to what Oracle has in regards to stitching ('cause Oracle is what I write about here).  It seems like Oracle is doing really well with service-based integration and application co-existence as their Cloud Application Services (aka Fusion Applications) continues to evolve.  

We're seeing an expansion of APIs and pre-built integrations, especially utilizing REST.  Both inbound and outbound integration of very light and simple data loads looks good as well.  The stitching in these areas looks pretty good.

Inbound and outbound integration for large and complex data loads, on the other hand, has some room for growth.  The tools are there, but the processes involved in using those tools in Oracle's Cloud still have some evolving of their own to accomplish.  But it'll get there.  Because Oracle's leadership knows: stitching matters.

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