Ditching The Pony Express: Calling Time on Point-to-Point Integration

By Ross Garrett in API Industry Trends Posted Mar 8, 2018

The Pony Express was a very short-lived integration platform back in the late 1850s. It provided a way to deliver mail from east-coast to west-coast before major transportation links existed. Riders would collect mail packages from St. Joseph, Missouri and then head west at full speed - stopping every 10 miles or so at a Pony Express station to switch to a fresh horse. Every 75 miles or so, the riders would switch to keep mail packages moving across the country day & night - until the mail arrived in Sacramento.


This meant letters could be delivered from New York to San Francisco overland in just 10 days! A process that had previously taken months via steamer ship routing via Panama.

While innovative and efficient in the 1800s, this point-to-point model surely can’t be scalable for today’s demanding world of integrated services - afterall, the Pony Express lasted only 19 short months, rendered obsolete as soon as the transcontinental telegraph was completed in 1861.

Calling time on point-to-point

Continuing the metaphor of communication and delivery networks, modern providers have eschewed the world of point-to-point in favor of a hub-and-spoke model. Take UPS as an example, where their WorldPort is used to enable scalable and efficient global delivery from a central hub.

Imagine if UPS had to fly planes to and from every source and destination. This would be incredibly wasteful, and would require a massive number of resources - it also doesn’t scale - the Pony Express was efficient because there was a single source and destination. Adding one new destination would mean doubling the infrastructure requirements - this is why WorldPort exists. When a new city needs to be added to the network , UPS integrates this once to their central hub rather than 1000s of times to each of the existing cities.

We like to call this “one-to-many” integration - and the case of application and data integration this means putting the data you care about at the center of your integration architecture.



This one-to-many approach allows you to scale up, accelerates your integration strategy and has the added advantage of enabling a level of governance and auditability not possible in the world of point-to-point.

Our vision for scalable application integration

Unfortunately, many organizations today have become bogged down with legacy integration platforms. With a one-to-many model that focuses on the data you care about, integration moves from building application connections, to managing the data upon which your organization relies. With enterprises having on average 1,181 cloud services in use today, legacy integration patterns simply can’t scale. Cloud Elements is turning the integration hairball into a scalable model for digital business and providing the governance needed to protect enterprise data.

Unfortunately, Mule’s are still a popular integration mechanism today - but when newer, more efficient and more powerful platforms are available - it’s time for you to switch horses!

Learn more about the future of integration in the 2018 edition of our State of API Integration report - register here - for early access!

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