In search of agility and low overhead, companies are putting as many applications as practical in the cloud. But the resulting hybrid IT environments, where certain applications remain on-premise for security or other reasons, can result in data integration issues that reduce efficiency drags and hamper agility.
In fact, cloud integration is much more demanding than many people want to believe.
As an applications intelligence company that has built its customer-facing and internal operations primarily on cloud applications within a hybrid environment, AppDynamics has had considerable experience with cloud data integration. Here are the five essential data integration capabilities that any company serious about harnessing the cloud should have in its pocket:
What is required is an integration solution that can understand the schema and underlying metadata of the cloud application, so data can be exposed in business terms. This empowers business users to directly access the data they need, when they need it.
What is also required is for integration to be enabled within the context of the application itself, creating a seamless user experience for cloud application users. This requires support for native user interface (UI) generation for SaaS applications, such as Salesforce Sales Cloud, so IT does not have to be saddled with writing custom UI code.
This kind of business self-service not only saves considerable time and money, it also encourages low-risk exploration and innovation while helping ensure business needs for data are met correctly.
That said, it is also important to enable collaboration between business users, integration developers and central IT resources to guarantee and accelerate the successful development of any "heavy lifting" integrations. What you don't want is an integration environment designed solely for developers with little consideration of business user needs. Surprisingly, such developer-centric environments still exist, particularly with Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)-based integration solutions.
The other thing you do not want is an integration environment that allows your business users to run around unfettered, which is something we will cover in the fifth and final core integration capability: hybrid security.
You cannot run a business without security policies. You also cannot allow just any user to launch full API-level queries into your business systems. In the new hybrid world, it's critical to have a single integration layer for collating data in a secure fashion and for managing who can query the data and what they can get out of it.
It is the only way you can scale an enterprise information environment safely. Security can be built into this layer in the form of secure agent technology, data masking (dynamic data masking for role-based security in production environments, passive data masking for data privacy in development sandboxes) and support for advanced security standards.
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