How Messaging Services Can Accelerate Your Application Flows at the Edge

In order to move at the speed and scale of the digital economy, businesses are rapidly transitioning their applications away from monolithic, on-premises infrastructures to web-based consumption and delivery models. We see this phenomenon with our own enterprise customers, who—around the globe and across industries—are shifting data and application workloads to the cloud. The Global Interconnection Index, a market study published by Equinix, also corroborates this, revealing that estimated Interconnection Bandwidth capacity between cloud and IT service providers and enterprises is expected to grow annually at 160% between 2016 – 2020.

This rapid global cloud adoption makes it even more critical for businesses to architect API-based messaging infrastructures for application flows at the edge. Even if an enterprise has a common API strategy, IT environments are emerging with a hybrid mix of applications and multicloud services that shift between synchronous and asynchronous behaviors. Enterprise IT infrastructures need to integrate these increasingly disparate and distributed services across multiple business partners.

What’s causing all of this to happen?

Today’s businesses are looking to integrate applications and IT services to achieve new business models. Digital transformation requires standardized applications and protocols that allow everything to work together. Speedy time to market drives business value, and in this dynamic digital environment, users won’t wait for an app to catch up, or for everyone to get on the same standard. The two forces below that are driving this environment illustrate why integration is so critical:

  • The number and types of data sources (e.g., CRP, ERP, B2B, Hadoop, streaming, databases, IoT) that need to be integrated are increasing in the multicloud environment.
  • Microservices are promoting intelligent endpoints and simple messaging integration, however, not all services will be microservices-based, these still require messaging to handle the integration seamlessly.

Some of the problems that enterprises encounter trying to achieve integration nirvana include:

  • Not all applications are new, and those that are not may not be malleable enough to fit new application architectures.
  • In a hybrid/multicloud environment, some tribute has been paid to application portability, however, not much to interoperability.
  • Digital partners and ecosystems gravitate to a center of business ecosystem density to exchange services and peer business traffic. However, their application platforms tend to either come from completely different architectures, or else they are further ahead or behind other members of the ecosystem.
  • Technology is moving quickly, and that momentum could bring convergence. However, digital business heavily favors first adopters that are able to quickly integrate digital technology with legacy infrastructures.

Today, unlike in the past, the priority is integration over standardization.

A solution – “plumb” digital edge nodes with messaging services

Today, large organizations may be running hundreds of apps at any given moment across multiple clouds. Integration of these applications must occur without bottlenecks or risk. This means the interconnection of different cloud messaging architectures, and the integration and exchange of messaging transactions, must occur quickly and securely.

One solution is to optimize for application service integration by leveraging a digital edge node’s (interconnection hub) secure communication gateways. Then, you can “plumb” edge nodes with messaging services that extend into or connect with multiple cloud and SaaS environments, business partner networks and services, and inbound messages from field area networks (i.e., the MQTT machine-to-machine connectivity protocol for IoT).

As discussed in our last blog article, API management solves the challenges around modern API/REST architectures and addresses the reality of integrating the rest of the environment. API management delivers a scalable runtime platform optimized for localized services across low-latency interconnections, where you can afford to add additional services without impairing performance. Likewise, many services offer powerful connectors that provide functionality out-of-the-box (e.g., SAP).

Either way, regardless of developer, cloud or partner philosophy or maturity, on-premises and cloud applications—and their messaging—can be easily integrated by following these steps:

  1. Determine the messaging support needed for each network segmentation flow type (focus on variety and volume).
  2. Interconnect messaging with security and inspection zone flows and a business API proxy.
  3. Publish an API for the messaging service.
  4. Integrate data services.
  5. Create REST APIs using the API management tools, and/or apply connectors so components are registered as required (take the path of least resistance and speed).
  6. Implement event processing (and correlation, if applicable) and logging.
  7. Coordinate/integrate with policy enforcement.
  8. Integrate with data pipeline management.
  9. Configure messaging translation to rationalize (reduce) protocols in order to optimize inspection and gateway capabilities. 

Plumb your messaging infrastructure for application flows

The benefits of planning for application integration in hybrid IT environments include:

  • A broad communication gateway that supports all levels of the OSI stack across edge nodes and interconnected networks.
  • Edge nodes that can easily be sized for extreme data volumes (e.g., IoT) with the throughput needed to scale millions of localized messages and events without compromising security.
  • Primary data services that are discoverable, available, and policy-controlled, and to which more data can be added via external sources or feeds. (Refer to the IOA Data Blueprint.)
  • Cloud services can be easily integrated, as necessary, to support hybrid/multicloud deployments.

The result is a platform designed for integration, with a variety of options to make it easy to add new business partners as needed.

Online retail use case

Digital transformation in today’s e-commerce market is forcing online retailers, such as Amazon, Overstock and Wayfair, to integrate digital payment services, logistics and inventory management from multiple suppliers, in addition to personalized customer offers/experiences. E-commerce companies can expedite this transformation and meet growing digital demands by re-architecting their IT infrastructures to place application workflows and management at the edge in proximity of the traffic exchange point for greater integration and control of all digital services.

In the next blog article, we’ll discuss how to scale distributed coordination of these multi-party workflows and configuration capabilities across your applications.

In the meantime, visit the IOA Knowledge Base for vendor-neutral blueprints that take you step-by-step through the right patterns for your architecture, or if you’re ready to begin architecting for the digital edge now, contact an Equinix Global Solutions Architect.

You may also be interested in reading the following IOA application blueprint articles:

Accelerating Digital Business by Deploying Application API Management at the Edge

How to Localize Digital Services at the Edge for Greater Performance and QoS

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