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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.

When selecting a SaaS supplier, Bhatia says it's crucial the vendor allows the organisation to access and store data on-premise. Bhatia has a copy of the data that Webtrends is tracking.

"I don't use that copy on-premise but that copy goes into my data warehouse. I may want to do some complex queries -- those that are not tracked in Webtrends but are tracked by some of our business systems. I can do cross-system queries in the data warehouse," he says.

"I don't have to ask Webtrends for access to data when I need to do a query across systems. It's easy as I have an API to download the data as I wish."

Carsales also offers its customers an SMS service and uses a third-party SaaS provider to deliver those messages.

"Sometimes one provider's systems can be down and we need to connect with nanother provider. So we have a multivendor scenario where 95 per cent of our SMS messages go through our primary provider and the remainder through our secondary provider," Bhatia says. "That's an architectural decision we have taken on integrating with these third-party SaaS providers. The benefit is continued service for us."

Carsales will move more applications to the cloud in the future using the same principles, Bhatia says.

"The scenario I have provided for our SMS service also applies to payment systems," he says. "You need to integrate with a couple of payment systems -- so when one is down, you can use the other."

Organisations also need to be aware that working across multiple systems and cloud providers does increase the risk of hacking, says Bhatia. "Working across cloud providers opens you up. It may be you that gets hacked or the cloud provider -- it just increases the combinations of possibilities that mean security becomes a consideration when you pick a provider," he says.

"You need to ask how secure they are and how easy it is to integrate into their authentication system."

Cloud integration mistakes
Organisations are making a number of mistakes when it comes to integrating SaaS apps in the cloud and on-premise.

Gartner's Carlton says many are still trying to choose the richest SaaS application but instead need to be looking at the performance of the app and its ability to integrate into an overall portfolio.

"We've been forecasting this at Gartner -- one survey showed that chief executives measure value and performance of IT based on operational performance metrics rather than features and functionality," Carlton says.

"The IT organisation is often driven by line-of-business to pick the most feature-rich application and often line-of-business is saying 'this is our only chance to get everything we want, let's throw everything in there that we might possibly want to have'.


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