Benefits and key highlights of an ecosystem integration fabric
An ecosystem integration fabric consists of lightweight application components with features such as built-in mediation capabilities of applications, API management, standardized APIs, event management infrastructure, data, and insights infrastructure, which work in tandem with each other. It helps financial institutions to meet their business demands rapidly and has numerous business benefits, resulting in sustainable competitive advantage:
• Breaking down silos
• Generating revenue via partnerships
• Managing transactions on the cloud
• Reducing integration costs
• Onboarding new partners
Below are some key considerations and necessary steps that financial institutions must undertake to transform their enterprise service landscape with the help of plug-and-play composable services.
Componentization of banking and insurance functionality and exposing them via standardized API interfaces is a trend that is rapidly evolving. Such APIs enable easier interoperability among the ecosystem partners. The banking industry architecture network (BIAN) is one such standard that banks can leverage while exposing domain APIs. New initiatives in BIAN such as coreless banking, will empower the evolution of banking functionality in integrating with external ecosystem partners seamlessly, thus reducing the overall costs of integration.
Business capability blueprinting by using industry standards such as BIAN, and Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development (ACORD), help business architects assess the current maturity as well as govern innovative product creation and evolution. Business capability alignment helps banks with service rationalization and is leveraged as part of API governance. Modernizing the integration landscape starts from creating the API catalog based on business strategy and prioritization.
The technology aspect of the integration fabric can be enabled via a lean centralized platform governance team, which creates standards and guidelines. The distributed technology teams can then leverage the guidelines while developing business services. These teams adopt DevOps processes for respective integration fabric components, which improve speed-to-market. In the evolving financial landscape, workloads or APIs are distributed across on-premise, multi-cloud environments, SaaS-based services, or partner systems. The ecosystem integration fabric must be designed in such a way that it allows integration across all such workloads in a secure, resilient, and available fashion.
The API security mechanism should be built with zero-trust security architecture principles. To enable this, the API management infrastructure needs to connect to identity and access management, authorization, and entitlement service infrastructure of the financial institution. One best practice is exposing the external APIs via a designated enterprise API gateway and establishing secure connectivity with the underlying workloads irrespective of environments where they are located. This enforces consistent security and governance policies and involves securing the workloads on the respective cloud or on-premise platform via appropriate API security mechanisms.
Core components of the ecosystem integration fabric
Each core component of an integration fabric (see Figure 1) performs specific functions required for connecting internal systems and ecosystem partners in a secure fashion.