Revealed: Application Company’s True-Life Cloud Integration Story

Loraine Lawson

I’ve noticed a minor shift in how companies view integration in the cloud. It’s slowly changed from being a real barrier to adoption, to being a concern, to being … well, a top complaint. It seems companies aren’t afraid of it, they know it can happen, they can even get it done — but they aren’t happy about it.

“In fact, cloud integration is much more demanding than many people want to believe,” write Hatim Shafique and Brian Hoyt in a recent Network World article.  “Do not let anyone tell you that cloud data integration is a slam-dunk.”

Shafique and Hoyt do work for the software company AppDynamics, but what’s unusual is, they’re actually sharing their experience as a business, rather than pitching an integration tool. AppDynamics is an application intelligence company (Wikipedia says it’s a performance management solution, if that helps), not an integration vendor.

Still, the company builds solutions that leverage cloud applications within a hybrid environment. Hoyt and Shafique drew on that experience to create this list of five essential data integration capabilities for cloud adopters.

The full article provides a more complete discussion, but to sum up, the five critical data integration tools for the cloud include:

  1. Tools that help you manage latency issues, such as change data capture and scalable, grid-based solutions.
  2. The basic all-purpose data tool set, which means solutions that let you handle data profiling, data quality, data validation, matching and cleansing and pivoting.
  3. The skills — and I’m paraphrasing here — to manage your integration without mucking up your applications. The actual language: “Effective integration requires knowing what data elements are needed to ensure a complete data object transaction from the application context (e.g., ‘an order object is always related to order detail’).”
  4. The capabilities to let application administrators create, manage and adjust these integrations without complicated coding.
  5. Really, really good security policies and practices. Here’s why: To know whether you can integrate and move the data, you first need to know how secure that data must be. If it needs to be super secure, then moving it to the cloud is probably a bad idea.

The article details some lessons they learned the hard way, as well as their decision to move to a data integration platform solution for the cloud. This is where they’re actually promoting a specific vendor — but I won’t spoil their surprise by telling you which one they picked.

If you’re considering shifting applications to either a cloud or hybrid model, you should also think through the integration costs, according to Seth Robinson, a senior director of Technology Analysis with CompTIA. A recent report from the firm showed that integration is often a hidden challenge that organizations fail to consider during the planning stage.

Loraine Lawson is a veteran technology reporter and blogger. She currently writes the Integration blog for IT Business Edge, which covers all aspects of integration technology, including data governance and best practices. She has also covered IT/Business Alignment and IT Security for IT Business Edge. Before becoming a freelance writer, Lawson worked at TechRepublic as a site editor and writer, covering mobile, IT management, IT security and other technology trends. Previously, she was a webmaster at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and a newspaper journalist. Follow Lawson at Google+ and on Twitter.

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