Five requirements for a future-proof system integration platform
The life science organisations around the world are driven by innovation and growth. From family owned business to large conglomerates, life science organisations face special requirements, including the need for maximum efficiency across the R&D cycle, strict quality assurance processes and regulatory compliance.
In order to accomplish this, companies must unite data and processes across diverse sources, including enterprise resource planning (ERP), product life cycle management (PLM), financial and legacy systems and more. In addition, this information needs to be easily shared with internal and external stakeholders, including suppliers, collaborating organisations, and regulatory agencies.
By enabling the automation of business processes and synchronization of data across systems, application integration platforms breakdown barriers, facilitating operational efficiently and compliance with regulations. In addition, the interoperability of an application integration platform provides a standard method for handling the flow of data between applications and systems, making it easier for organisations to orchestrate processes across multiple systems. A good platform will include built-in functionality to ensure that the entire solution is robust, stable and scalable.
Here are five key requirements for a future-proof integration platform that can help meet the demands of life science organisations.
Scalability and flexibility
The massive volumes of data needed for clinical research and to manage and maintain manufacturing quality as well as inventories and sales can provide a strain on IT infrastructure. The best way to ensure top performance, and a high level of reliability is to utilize an in-memory data grid architecture that distributes the processing across multiple nodes. With an in-memory data grid architecture, if a node fails, the embedded management system shifts the processing to a different node, ensuring business continuity and preventing any loss of data. As processing requirements increase, the management system automatically recruits more nodes, adding scale elastically when it’s needed.
Certified cloud and on-premise integrations
Today most life science organisations use a variety of cloud-based systems, which are often procured on short-term contracts and frequently switched from one supplier to another. At the same time, they are dependent on on-premise solutions, such as legacy systems, built and grown over many years, or special niche solutions. These mix of solutions, systems and databases form a complex, heterogenous IT landscape. Manual coding for integration is labour intensive and requires frequent updates. An application integration platform should be able to handle multiple clouds as well as on-premise architectures and to manage data by following users’ workflow and business logic. Running the integration platform behind the firewall provides IT managers and regulators with the peace-of-mind they need to make certain systems and data remain secure.
No integration solution can exist in a vacuum: by definition its value lies in its ability to connect to a wide range of backend systems. Since life system organisations may have global operations with several partners and suppliers and the need to comply with regulatory requirements, a system integration platform should have the ability to connect in a predictable manner to other databases, frameworks, applications and endpoints.
Certified integration connectors are highly recommended since they ensure that maintenance and support agreements with vendors will be honoured. Using non-vendor-approved integration solutions can leave companies without support in case they experience difficulties and the vendor blames the systems integrator.
Real-time data availability and monitoring
Today’s life science business data is most valuable when it is captured, analysed and actioned in real time.
In-Memory Data Grids are the ideal enabler for real-time data as information can be processed faster than previously possible, with multiple processes able to run in parallel. There is no dependency on the data processing of any one system. An integrated process workflow running on an In-Memory Data Grid architecture can more easily access, process and present real-time business information.
The effective monitoring of the integration landscape is a must. In case of disruptions, enterprises can react immediately and maintain business continuity.
Mobilisation of business processes
As the life science industry becomes more competitive, the ability of mobile apps to visualize and run life sciences business processes becomes critical. Besides allowing immediate responses and system updates from anywhere, mobile apps enable life science companies to reinvent and automate processes, reducing costs and making their businesses more efficient.
An integration platform should allow developers to present back-end information to mobile users and allow key business processes to be executed from authenticated users on secure mobile devices. The ability for apps to work offline in fully encrypted mode is essential. Management of device policies with geo-fencing, remote wipe and other control features may also be necessary in regulated environments.
While not all processes can be mobilized, those that are must be highly secure and tightly integrated based on SOA principles.
One skill set
Manually written integration solutions require deep technical knowledge of the processes and languages of each system. They are also difficult to maintain and change, especially when the programmer is on holiday, sick or has left the company. In every company this is a big issue, but in the Life Science industry it can have serious consequences.
It is necessary to rely on standardised platforms, which automatically take care of coding and reduce the risk with certified and readymade connectors. Well-designed integration platforms can avoid the need for manual programming altogether. A friendly, code-free integration platform with a visual orchestration process and readymade connectors to the most popular IT systems, lets you connect multiple systems using the same skill set. This makes it easy and quick for your existing developers to complete a great many integration projects. Not only does this save on expensive specialized labour costs, it increases the ROI from your platform.
Regardless of where your company fits on the life sciences spectrum, you’ll find that you’ll be best served by a right sized integration platform with the modern capabilities described above. The faster and more efficient ways you can connect information across systems, the easier you will find it to increase competitiveness, meet compliance challenges and to share information with your stakeholders.
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