Blog Billing System Design & Architecture

In Memoriam: The Point-to-Point Connector

Brendan O'Brien

12 January 2022

The pandemic has been a time of reflection for many, and not only for us as individuals. Companies of every size and type are taking steps to finally realize the digital transformations they may have had sitting on the shelf since before March 2020.

It’s become abundantly clear that global enterprises across multiple industries are craving greater agility in their technology stacks. Whether it’s CRM, ERP, billing, or other business applications, organizations are procuring and integrating them with multiple vendors. They are eschewing the inflexible “one-throat-to-choke” model. Companies undergoing digital transformations are even keener to pursue a “best-of-breed” strategy to take full advantage of today’s modern, cloud-native solutions.

In doing so, the question of how best to connect new applications to existing, legacy technology infrastructure becomes a top challenge for systems integrators and IT decision-makers. Point-to-point (P2P) connectors have long been a popular method for bringing together disparate services and establishing the direct interchange of data between applications.

It’s time for that to change.

P2P connectors may have made sense when an enterprise was only using a handful of applications and architectural components. But for any company aspiring to grow by leveraging the best and most modern platforms in the market today, P2P connectors are, simply stated, outdated, outmoded, and a foolhardy approach. Here’s why:

First, when a P2P connection is created, it assumes how the two systems will operate and interconnect at that given moment in time. While that might be acceptable at the SMB level, where conformation of business products to the out-of-the-box capabilities of canned software is fairly normal, larger enterprises are more likely to demand that software adhere to their proprietary business rules, no matter how bespoke those rules may be. Each change in the business will likely require a time-consuming reworking of any “canned” connector.

Second, point-to-point connectors discourage (if not prohibit) the easy decoupling of any individual stack component. This violates the entire promise of agility offered by cloud-native, best-of-breed solution stacks versus traditional, monolithic, on-premises offerings.

Finally, the P2P approach prevents organizations from getting the most from the relationship with the vendor. Instead of working collaboratively to derive maximum value from all the solution has to offer, the enterprise and the vendor become perpetually consumed with rejiggering connectors to respond to ever-changing business requirements. Furthermore, because enterprises will need to rely on vendor availability to implement changes, they will lose a degree of control over their operations.

For all these reasons, we strongly advise our customers to move away from P2P connectors and use an enterprise service bus (ESB) that can more seamlessly and flexibly connect all the various support solutions the enterprise might need. Serving as an integration medium, the ESB allows all applications to speak to one another harmoniously. Code can be adjusted, tweaked, and modified over time without the labor and time-intensive requirements of a prebuilt connector.  And when a functionally superior replacement is wanted for any individual part of the stack, turning off the old and turning on the new becomes a lot less risky.

For digital enterprises pursuing recurring revenue strategies, having an ESB that enables the billing system to integrate with neighboring solutions within a robust partner ecosystem is even more critical. P2P connectors will simply not be able to support the rapid introduction of new digital services and associated usage-based billing models, inhibiting the enterprise’s ability to generate revenue.

Too many vendors continue to offer their solutions via a P2P integration because it may be easier and faster. But at the end of the day, it’s a quick fix and typically not in the best interests of the enterprise. Many progressive organizations have already migrated to ESB, recognizing that P2P connectors are simply unsustainable within a thriving environment. For everyone else, it’s time to say farewell to P2P connectors once and for all.

Brendan O'Brien

Chief Innovation Officer & Co-Founder at Aria Systems. Brendan leads the product direction and drives the launch of new products. He introduced the world to cloud billing, and innovated database-driven, enterprise-grade web applications – before the concept of “cloud” was even on the horizon. Brendan is at the forefront of the recurring revenue revolution that is empowering enterprises — and specifically enabling information systems and new business models to secure predictive revenue streams while improving business processes.

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