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Overcoming the cloud integration challenge

Byron Connolly | April 13, 2015
Configuring multiple apps to share data in the cloud is key.


Organisations are increasingly moving data and applications to the public cloud, running hybrid IT environments that enable them to cut infrastructure costs while speeding up the delivery of technology projects.

In fact, public cloud services are becoming so popular, Gartner believes the market in Australia will hit $4.15 billion this year, representing almost 24 per cent year-on-year growth compared to 2014.

But when moving to the cloud, successfully integrating software-as- a-service (SaaS) applications with existing on-premise software is vital and may make the difference between success or failure of cloud projects. And configuring these multiple applications to share data in the cloud is key.

According to Alan King, managing director at Australian systems integrator, Infront Systems, integrating SaaS apps with on premise software is a critical problem enterprises need to solve as they move more services into the cloud.

"Analysts say that within three years, most enterprises will have externalised between 15 and 27 services that they would normally have consumed on-premise. That is a big problem: How we take that disaggregation of critical data -- your ERP, CRM and productivity apps -- and leverage that in a consistent, reliable way," he says. This is something Infront's customers identify as a major pain point.

"They used to have a single source of truth on-premise, where critical business data existed. Now, they have external services where this data exists, with a desperate need to integrate that data back on-premise to leverage it for business value," King says.

Although organisations are succeeding with cloud integration, Infront's general manager, Glenn Powell, believes they are far less efficient than they were when systems were bolted on-premise. Application integration points were taken for granted on-premise, and organisations never waited for the business case to be fully developed before they went to a SaaS model.

This is now driving big inefficiencies, he says. As organisations take advantage of social media, mobile and the Internet of Things, the number of connections IT departments need to manage increases by an order of magnitude, Gartner research director, Daryl Carlton, points out.

For instance, organisations may need to work out how many database sockets they are going to open up to enable order processing, which is now being done by customers, not staff.

"Or maybe order processing is being done by the vending machine through a machine-to-machine interface," he says.

Organisations increasingly talk about the difficulty of getting the right data to the right people so they can make a decision, Carlton continues. The challenge is that this data is often dependent on the application that creates and maintains it.

"In reality we can't get to that data unless we go through an SAP or Oracle application," he says.


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