Chasing Down Your SaaS Integration Options

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I just can't help but think organizations may be repeating in the cloud the same integration mistakes they made with on-premise databases and computer systems years ago. And this recent post by David Menninger, vice president and research director of Ventana Research, certainly doesn't make me feel better about the situation.


The rise in SaaS and cloud-based applications is growing, writes Menninger, and with it, new software silos, with "new corporate data repositories that must be integrated with other enterprise data and must be managed as a whole," he states.


I know people like to think that the whole IT/business alignment discussion is a dead end, but once again, we see it at the root of another integration challenge. This time, the disconnect is happening with line-of-business leaders, who Menninger says "see such solutions as addressing their immediate concerns for rapid deployment with minimal capital outlays, but these business folks may not be aware of the data challenges associated with moving to the cloud."


No kidding. And their lack of foresight-which probably could be avoided with a simple sit-down with IT-means there's no underlying data integration infrastructure that can be used to bring this data on premise. Menninger points out this leaves users with few options beyond cutting and pasting data or exporting it to a spreadsheet. Hoorah! More spreadsheets-just what organizations need, right?


Okay-so how do we fix this? Menninger looks at seven different options for tackling the SaaS data integration problem-most of which I've written about at some time or another. You can read his summary on his post, which does a great job of offering the pros and cons of each, but for further reading, I've linked to some past posts and interviews featuring these solutions:

  1. Informatica, which actually offers five different levels of SaaS integration solutions
  2. Pervasive Software, which offers Pervasive Data Integrator v10 Cloud Edition
  3. iWay Software, which supports both structured data and can integrate on-premise systems with data from Salesforce.com's collaboration technology, Chatter
  4. Cast Iron, which was recently acquired by IBM and also integrates with Chatter, in addition to supporting data integration via the cloud
  5. Boomi, which offers AtomSphere and was recently acquired by Dell-Menninger expects this offering to be expanded to better accommodate enterprises
  6. SnapLogic, which offers a "store" to buy and sell connectors via open source
  7. Jitterbit, whose CloudReplicate creates and synchronizes a copy of Salesforce.com data in a separate RDBMS instance in the cloud. Jitterbit offers a hosted, cloud-based integration solution for those of you who prefer to "outsource" integration.


And those are just the vendors he found at DreamForce, which is sponsored by Salesforce.com. One of the reasons I've been hesitant to make such a list is that it seems to grow every day.


For instance, his list is missing Magic Software, which offers a SaaS integration via its uniPaaS and iBolt solutions. It's also missing Hubspan, which focuses on business process integration that includes on-premise to cloud integration. Plus, according to Hubspan's Margaret Dawson, more B2B integrators are also moving into this terrain.


And when you specifically look at solutions that only focus on integrating on-premise with Salesforce, the list quickly grows long and unwieldy, as this compilation on Elay's CRM blog shows. Elaya Raja is a Salesforce consultant for an IT company in India. He is on Twitter, and given his tweets, I suspect he might do consulting work on Eloqua integration.


I'm sure I'll hear from more vendors after this publishes. Please feel free to add a comment to this post so readers can know their options. Certainly, there are plenty of vendors moving in the SaaS integration space, but it's still a new market and comparisons are tricky. There's just no getting around it-to find the right solution, you'll have to do your homework. Hopefully, these lists will give you a starting point.