Expert: Be smart and deploy a third-party integration app


When deploying a new application, service or system, a company has a choice to make in terms of its business integration strategy. It can either build a solution on its own or rely on the offerings of a third party. Writing for ebizQ, integration expert Hollis Tibbetts threw his support behind the latter.

There are many reasons a company may choose to build its own solution, with cost being chief among them. But such views are misguided, Tibbetts argued. He almost always advises organizations to purchase business integration solutions.

"If you want to hire me to evaluate your situation and make a recommendation on whether you should build your own integration 'mechanism' or just buy one, that's great - be forewarned that 994 times out of 1,000, the answer will be 'go buy one,'" he wrote.


Organizations are often mistaken when it comes to the cost of building an integration app. In addition to the development phase, companies must also quality-check the app's effectiveness, as well as maintain it to ensure the job is completed properly.

Tibbetts backed up his claim by outlining a scenario for what he called "the simplest integration," a database with 12 columns per table and 20 tables as a data source. Tibbetts warned that taking on such a project will cost an organization 234 days of full-time effort at a cost of about $85 per hour. That means the entire project will run a company about $160,000, on average, for the one-way data integration.

Of course, costs only skyrocket the larger the project becomes, Tibbetts said. "The nasty thing about build-your-own integration projects is that they don't increase linearly with complexity and quantity of sources / targets," he wrote. "They are most definitely a geometric progression. Go from two sources to 20 and it's not 10 times as expensive, it's more like 100 times or more."

It seems as though companies that choose to build their own business integration solutions are in the minority, as earlier this year research firm IDC highlighted the fact that the market for such software is booming. According to researchers, revenue for middleware reached $16.1 billion in 2010. That was good for 9.2 percent growth compared to 2009, when the market increased just 2.2 percent.