It’s the age-old argument within the world of IT – create and integrate a solution using a combination of perceived best of breed products, or opt for an all-in-one alternative, with potential pros and cons in each case.
The dilemma dates back even to the time when mainframes ruled the world and IBM offered integrated software solutions (and all the hardware of course) and then into the early days of PCs with integrated software solutions versus individual, single function applications (Lotus 1-2-3, WordPerfect etc). That generic “office” functionality space is now largely owned by Microsoft with its Office suite but, beyond those fundamental applications, there is still that choice to be made, not least in the world of ITSM and its related apps and services.
What has changed significantly since those early days is how software and services are sourced and delivered. While some form of outsourcing has always been present, the onslaught of SaaS/Cloud-based offerings in recent times has opened up the options for mixing and matching different ISV products and far easier integration possibilities than before, thanks to the huge developments in API support and willingness of vendors to be more open. This effectively negates many of the perceived historical benefits of the one-stop-shop solution, such as potentially reduced training times/costs, easier resolution in the event of support problems and being easier to budget for. Regarding the latter, the subscription-based approach to all things IT now has made budgeting predictable and scalable, regardless of the number of products and services being integrated.
Meantime, the acknowledged benefits of the self-defining “best of breed” alternatives are as valid as ever. By definition, an all-in-one solution is compromised in terms of its ultimate functionality; elements are pared back in order to readily integrate without complication. With a multi-vendor/provider best of breed solution, each contribution is designed to be as comprehensive a product or service as possible in its own right, where every aspect of the solution is as in-depth as possible and attention to detail is extensive. It is also far easier to target the potential customer and optimise accordingly to hit that target. Above all, a best of breed approach brings flexibility; a customisable approach to identifying and sourcing which elements work best for your business needs and bringing them together as required – no more, no less than you need. It also means you are not tied into a single supplier and therefore at the behest of that supplier’s future direction and directives.
Here is where the extensive developments in API support and integration are making that “DIY” best of breed option so much easier to adopt. There was a time when third-party integration was a throwaway line used by vendors to attempt to validate that its technology wasn’t proprietary because of those APIs – ones that were far too loose and open to ever actually be used, other than by the brave and foolish. But now there is a realisation that one vendor alone cannot do everything. Even if they are Microsoft or Google, regardless of their size and primary focus, all vendors nowadays work in tandem with “strategic partners” and are more “open”.
Hence, the importance of a service management platform nowadays being able to integrate with best of breed third-party applications, in order to provide the most complete solution possible. In the case of Sunrise, current integration examples include Microsoft’s Power BI for business analytics and reports, Teams for support of remote working/collaboration (with direct interaction between Sunrise and a Teams channel content) and tools such as Jira for work/development management, again with a synchronised, bidirectional feed between the two platforms. So, this isn’t simply a case of paying lip service to supporting third-parties, but fully incorporating them into a 24×7 service management platform.
Much is spoken nowadays of “Agile IT” – the ability for IT to respond quickly and interactively to changes in the landscape. In the current, extremely challenging environment everyone is facing, being ready to adapt to change might be the difference between staying in business or becoming history. Here is where the best of breed flexibility really makes a difference – as a ready platform for expansion as, and when, the opportunities arise in any business direction, the all-in-one alternative in comparison looks too restrictive. And that landscape will continue to change, so flexibility becomes increasingly paramount. It might just be the difference between business success and failure…