Survey Results: The Current State of Application Integration

Before my recent trip to Europe to discuss technology trends that impact application integration, I hunted down a bunch of smart integration folks to find out what integration looks like today. What technologies are used? Is JSON climbing in popularity? Is SOAP use declining? To find out, I sent a survey to a few dozen people and got results back from 32 of them. Participants were asked to consider only the last two years of integration projects when answering.

Let’s go through each question.

Question #1 – How many integration projects have you worked on in the past 2 years?

Number of answers: 32

Result: 428 total projects


Individual answers ranged from “1” to “50”. Overall, seemed as if most integration efforts are measured in weeks and months, not years!


Question #2 – What is the hourly message volume of your typical integration project?

Number of answers: 32




Quantity # of Responses Percentage
Dozens 2 6.25%
Hundreds 9 28.13%
Thousands 18 56.25%
Millions 3 9.38%


Most of today’s integration solutions are designed to handle thousands of messages per hour. Very few are building to handle a larger scale. An architecture that works fine for 3 messages per second (i.e. 10k per hour) could struggle to deal with 300 messages per second!

Question #3 – How many endpoints are you integrating with on a typical project?

Number of answers: 32





The average number of endpoints per response was 24.64, but the median was 5. Answers were all over the place and ranged from “1” to”300.” Most integration solutions still talk to a limited number of endpoints and might not be ready for more fluid, microservices oriented solutions.


Question #4 – How often do you use each of the technologies below on an integration project (%)

Number of answers: 31




0% 10% 25% 50% 75% 100% Used Used > 50%
On Prem Bus 2 2 3 5 8 11 94% 83%
Cloud Bus 8 12 4 0 1 0 64% 6%
SOAP 0 2 3 6 13 7 100% 84%
REST 4 6 6 8 1 1 85% 45%
ETL 5 8 8 2 3 1 81% 27%
CEP 16 1 1 2 1 1 38% 40%



Not surprisingly – given that I interviewed integration bus-oriented people – the on-premises integration bus rules. While 64% said that they’ve tried a cloud bus, only 6% of those actually use it on more than 50% of projects. SOAP is the dominant web services model for integration today. REST use is increasing, but not yet used on half the projects. I’d expect the SOAP and REST numbers to look much more similar in the years ahead.


Question #5 – What do you integrate with the most (multiple choice)?

Number of answers: 32





Integration developers are connecting primarily to custom and commercial business applications. Not too surprising that 26 out of 32 respondents answered that way. 56% of the respondents (18/32) thought relational databases were also a primary target. Only a single person integrates most with NoSQL databases, and just two people integrate with devices. While those numbers will likely change over the coming years, I’m not surprised by the current state.


Question #6 –  What is the most common data structure you deal with on integration projects?

Number of answers: 32




Data Type # of Responses Percentage
XML 25 78.13%
JSON 3 9.38%
Text files 4 12.50%



Integration projects are still married to the XML format. Some are still stuck dealing primarily with text files. This growing separation with the preferred format (JSON) of web developers may cause angst in the years ahead.



While not remotely scientific, this survey still gives a glimpse into the current state of application integration. While the industry trends tell us to expect more endpoints, more data, and more JSON, we apparently have a long way to go before this directly impacts the integration tier.

Agree with the results? Seeing anything different?

Categories: BizTalk, General Architecture

2 replies

  1. Hi Richard,
    Interesting! Thanks!
    I see more and more that integration tasks are treated as generic development. Guys use JSON, Web.API, RabbitMQ etc and nobody calls it integration. And don’t tell “Enterprise Integration” to young folks🙂 They just do it as intrinsic part of a programming API. Guys don’t call themselves integrators anymore.
    This trend is hard to measure.

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