Autonomous Integration – Smart Connectivity
I have spent a large proportion of my career delivering integration projects or large scale projects with a significant degree of integration in the scope.
The general pattern has often involved a lot of technical requirements gathering, some technical integration architecture, a good dose of integration design, a reasonable amount of build, some system integration testing, user acceptance testing, an implementation and then several weeks of post implementation support.
This has been the case no matter what the architectural design pattern has been, whether its point-to-point, hub and spoke, Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) or the development of open API’s. The point I’m trying to make here is that it takes a lot of human effort, requires the involvement of some very clever minds, involves complex software and it costs a lot of money. There has to be a better way!
Over the years I have often pondered the same idea. That is the idea of systems that are aware of their digital surroundings, which can converse with each other autonomously and can negotiate with each other to share relevant data and information. They would of course need to do this within the constraints of a user defined security profile! In essence these are systems that are smart, systems that are enabled with autonomous communications and systems that can decide when and how to integrate with other systems.
Call it a vision, call it a dream. Either way it’s something that I’m passionate about and it’s something that I think with the right minds, the right tools and the right R&D backing could become a reality over the next 10 years. In fact, given the forecast growth of the connectivity of apps, technology, gadgets, white goods and systems to the cloud it’s something that is necessary for the next generation of our global community.
I often talk about a fusion of technology, knowledge and expertise, a golden age of discovery, learning and innovation. For those of you that do not see it, we are living in such a golden age! There are a raft of new technologies, philosophies, approaches, tools and knowledge that if directed properly will help us in creating smarter system to system connectivity.
So, what is the vision?
Autonomous & Free
Simply put this means no human intervention, no architecture & design phases, no build effort and definitely not having to spend lots and lots of money each time you want two systems to talk to each other. Any system, application, gadget or connected device should be able to converse with any other device that it finds within the bounds of the network that it’s connected to and within the boundaries of its user defined security profile.
Open and Common Communications
A common communications protocol that allows smart systems to dynamically and autonomously communicate between each other, sharing information freely, consuming information as required and doing so within the realms of user (or corporate) defined policies. As long as two systems are physically connected to a shared network they should be able to talk to each other openly and in a language that they both understand.
Sharing of Common Interests
Where there is a common interest I would expect to see this interest acknowledged by the two systems and a further, more detailed exchange of information take place – talking specifics and further agreeing upon what data and information they will share on a regular basis. For those systems that have no initial and obvious common interests I would want the systems to at least acknowledge that a conversation took place and for them to be able to reference the conversation and note the data and services held by that other system.
As systems converse with each other for mutual benefit I would envisage that they could reference other systems that they are aware of and to share extracts of their past conversations, to share an understanding of what those other systems have to offer.
I fear that what I describe above is too complex to be handled by simple logic, or even complex logic for that matter. I don’t think what I describe exists within today’s integration technologies and I think it needs some significant thought leadership, technical input and the right fusion of technology to achieve a working prototype.
That said I’d be interested in the views of likeminded individuals or organisations out there. For me at least I think that we are on the brink of some fundamental breakthroughs in technology, science and engineering that will catapult the knowledge base of our generation into a new age of discovery and advancement.
Artificial Intelligence is one such example where I believe that rapid and mostly good progress is being made. Equipping our business systems, cloud applications and our connected devices with basic intelligence is certainly an area of interest in achieving the vision described above. AI would give our systems the ability to converse, interact, share data and connect autonomously.
Finally, it’s highly possible that all that is needed to meet the requirements of my dreams is just some really smart and clever logic. Not necessarily fully AI compliant but a generation of logic and intelligence that comes just before this stage. I think that this time is now and certainly with the right minds focused on the subject we could see significant progress within the next 5 to 10 years. I would like to think that we are on the brink of the right fusion of technology right here, right now, to bring these types of dreams to life!