Time and time again, surveys show at least a third of SaaS or cloud users claim integration is more complex than they’d expected.
And yet, we keep hearing about how APIs and integration-as-a-service can simplify integration in the cloud.
What gives? Why is integration in the cloud so gosh-darn hard?
Julie Hunt (@juliebhunt) took a look at this issue in a recent post for the Data Integration Blog, which is owned by Pervasive Software. Hunt is a software industry analyst who heads a Texas-based consulting business.
Despite what SaaS vendors may tell you, there are a number of reasons why cloud integration remains problematic, such as:
- The need for business agility means some organizations switch SaaS vendors frequently and multiple times. This means integration needs to be handled swiftly, but still meet enterprise-level practices and security.
- There’s a “massive explosion” of APIs, many of which are built on proprietary platforms, and enterprises are being forced to manage all these APIs.
- APIs aren’t exactly the “plug-and-play” tool we’ve been told. Many still require users to build connections, thus creating a “constant reinvention of connectors from app to app,” Hunt writes.
- On top of all this, APIs also change — even if nothing else does. So now organizations are in the API maintenance business, whether they want to be or not.
- If you manage to handle the integration requirement, then you still face data quality and identity resolution issues.
So what’s the solution? You may not like it, but Hunt’s takeaway seems to be that whether it’s in the cloud or on-premise, data is data and it needs to be managed accordingly.
That means, yes, integration is going to be a headache, particularly if you treat it as a one-off project, rather than developing a strategic approach that addresses all aspects of data management, including data quality and governance.
That said SearchEnterpriseLinux.com Site Editor Jan Stafford pointed out in March, there are ways to manage some of the cloud integration complexities, including:
- PaaS (platform as a service), which helps developers build better cloud-compatible applications.
- SOA (service-oriented software), using Web services to expose services based on open standards.
- Integration as a service and data integration solutions that help navigate connecting on-premise apps to the cloud.
What about for all those APIs? If you’re heavily invested in the cloud, there are API management solutions available to help you keep up, although again, those tend to be for people deploying APIs, rather than managing external APIs.