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A strategic approach to cloud integration

Rob Fox, Vice President, Application Development, Liaison Technologies | Aug. 5, 2013
The ability to transfer and translate data seamlessly and quickly in real-time is crucial to business success, but integrating, transforming and managing critical business applications and data is proving to be a complex challenge for organizations across the globe. To facilitate streamlined movement of enterprise data across diverse applications, a growing number of organizations are turning to cloud-based integration. This approach reduces complexity and IT oversight, and frees up resources to focus on delivering products and solutions to customers and partners.

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.

The ability to transfer and translate data seamlessly and quickly in real-time is crucial to business success, but integrating, transforming and managing critical business applications and data is proving to be a complex challenge for organizations across the globe.

To facilitate streamlined movement of enterprise data across diverse applications, a growing number of organizations are turning to cloud-based integration. This approach reduces complexity and IT oversight, and frees up resources to focus on delivering products and solutions to customers and partners.

Although the cloud is becoming an increasingly ubiquitous delivery model for organizations of all sizes, IT leaders and other stakeholders should remember that the cloud isn't an all-in-one solution. No single cloud services provider can fulfill all of an enterprise's various requirements.

In the majority of cases, businesses making the move to the cloud will require the services of an array of providers, combined with traditional on-premise application-to-application (A2A) and business-to-business (B2B) systems. As such, there is an increasing need to adopt integration strategies that support a multitude of complex integrations: A2A, B2B, on-premise enterprise applications to SaaS/cloud applications, and cloud-to-cloud (C2C).

When it comes to cloud integration, there are two fundamental questions that should be asked. The first is, "What problem is the integration solving?" Because cloud integration refers not just to integration between different cloud-based systems, such as Magento, NetSuite and Salesforce.com, but between cloud-based and on-premise systems, it is crucial to first determine what exactly is being integrated and for what purpose. In many cases, enterprises will need to accomplish both cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-on-premise integration, but understanding the goal of any one integration project is a baseline requirement.

The answer to the first question begs the second question: "How can integration help solve this problem?" Until recently, most enterprises viewed integration projects in a vacuum, focusing only on a single use case, namely A2A integration, B2B e-commerce integration, or cloud integration. Today this approach is changing. Enterprises are increasingly seeking broader initiatives that will address all of the scenarios, as well as the challenge of integrating across them. Data integration is not a one-time event, and if the solution is built with this in mind, reusability can impact a company's ability to tackle future integration challenges.

Building a successful cloud Integration strategy
There are a few key considerations that every CIO and stakeholder should take into account when building an integration strategy.

First and foremost, the organization must know how to spot complexity. Most SaaS providers try to make their web APIs simple, but few are actually successful. Just like many on-premise systems, the specifications for cloud APIs can be unwieldy, often hundreds of pages long, and integrating with them is no trivial matter.

 

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