As the cloud matures, organizations are starting to expect more than just an online application. Wisely, they're eager to avoid cloud silos.
As I shared yesterday, that means they'll expect more when it comes to integration between their cloud applications and their on-premise infrastructure.
Fortunately, that's not as difficult as it may sound, according to integration/SOA/cloud expert and CTO of Blue Mountain Labs, David Linthicum. In fact, Linthicum says cloud integration may be easier than integration of traditional enterprise systems.
Not a ton changes when dealing with cloud computing, other than the fact that you may be dealing with systems that are outside of the firewall, and not under you're direct control. However, they also typically provide well-defined and easy to use interfaces, or APIs, which allow access to core information or services. Indeed, I would consider it much easier to connect and integrate existing SaaS and IaaS clouds than traditional enterprise systems.
The key, he writes, is to realize you're not starting from scratch and the same old patterns and solutions, for the most part, apply to the cloud.
Actually, after reading David Taber's CIO.com series on cloud applications, I see Linthicum's point.
Taber is the author of "Salesforce.com Secrets of Success: Best Practices for Growth and Profitability" and CEO of SalesLogistix, a certified Salesforce.com consultancy, and I think you'll find that his vendor-neutral explanation of cloud application integration will go a long way to answer your questions about cloud integration and ease any fears you might have.
In the first article of the series, he explains the four different layers at which you can integrate cloud applications, which are:
It sounds familiar, right? There's nothing new or scary there, although the cloud does add a few little twists, which he explains in the full article.
In part two, he examines the four categories of solutions for achieving cloud integration:
You'll want to read the full article, because he also explains the best use cases and the shortcomings and challenges of each category. (You may also want to read the next two parts in Taber's series on cloud applications, which address security issues.)
As you can see, it's really not that hard to follow or that different from traditional integration. Of course with integration, the problem is seldom with the actual technology, but rather the politics and the sheer workload of tackling all the silos. Fortunately, there's still time to ensure cloud apps don't become one more silo to add to your long to-do list.