The Disappearing Integrator: A Cautionary Tale

By Howard M. Cohen  |  Print this article Print
integrator's role

COMMENTARY: With the rise of major cloud providers, portable apps and an increasingly mobile user community, the integrator's role may be disintegrating.

Where Does This Leave the Integrator?

With network, server and storage infrastructure coming from cloud service providers, there is no longer a need for a network integrator to integrate the platform. It's already there. With applications developed in containers that reside on those cloud infrastructures, there's no need for a systems integrator to integrate the applications. Users connect on portable devices of their own choosing, which are easily and securely connected to their network. No integrator is required. The relationship between Dev and Ops has never been closer.

Classic integrators are faced with the challenge of reinventing themselves. Different cloud services from different providers still need to be integrated with each other to perform flawlessly. Security protocols, transport and other issues must be managed. A network that is growing from 4.3 billion connected devices to 32 undecillion will require far more sophisticated monitoring and management than anyone has ever conceived of. There is still much integrating to be done.

However, even as all this redefinition goes on, many integrators will find customers seeking new and more expanded services. Data science will become a very important component of their new, emerging business as customers seek someone who can take all this massive data and use analytic wizardry to turn it into actionable information.

The demand on applications will be that they use more and more cognitive functionality to anticipate more for their user, making their user's experience far more robust than ever. Users will expect connections between the cyber world and the real world, such as WiFi-based home and industrial automation with voice interfaces like Amazon Echo, Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortana, to become completely seamless. IFTTT (If This Then That) programming may become an important new enabler.

There are many avenues today's integrators may choose to go down as they redefine themselves and their businesses. Which are you considering?

Howard M. Cohen is a 30-plus-year IT industry veteran who continues his commitment to the channel as a columnist and consultant.