Cloud Leading to More Work, Not Less, for Systems Integrators

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Make the Financial Case for Virtualization and Cloud Computing

For some time now, there have been predictions that cloud and SaaS could mean the demise of systems integrators.


After all, working with big, legacy, on-premise systems is their bread and butter. As more companies move business to the cloud, there would be less need for this kind of work, particularly since SaaS vendors could package integration as part of their value proposition.


This isn't old thinking, either. Just a few months ago, I pointed out two pieces that called into question these long-term, expensive engagements that tend to rely on custom code. I quoted Phil Wainewright of ZDNet:

The trouble with the old, labor-intensive, craftwork approach to delivering, implementing and maintaining IT is that it's becoming obsolete in an increasingly cloud-oriented world - too slow, inflexible and expensive compared to more automated approaches.

But a new report by Global Industry Analysts shows that there's actually been a 5 percent growth in the systems integration market, thanks to virtualization, government IT streamlining, and - you guessed it - cloud computing. It's expected to continue to grow at 5.15 percent annually through 2017.


Now, I'll grant you, that's not an overly impressive percentage, but when you consider people were predicting demise, 5 percent sounds pretty darn good. But the study did confirm that cloud is changing things for systems integrators, according to ZDNet's Joe McKendrick, who shared highlights from the report in a recent post. It's just changing things for the benefit of the systems integrators. Virtualization is also helping, as more IT departments offload both cumbersome equipment and the work of consolidating that equipment.


The federal government is also a big factor in new systems integration work, according to the report:

Implementation of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems in government agencies, introduction of public convenience and safety solutions, such as E-governance, and modernization programs, such as those initiated by the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), will especially boost demand for systems integration over the next few years.

Most of the growth in SI work will be in application development.


Upon further reflection, I guess it makes sense that cloud computing and SaaS would translate into more work for systems integrators. While many SaaS providers do package integration solutions with their products, there is still custom, on-premise software that companies will want to integrate with their shiny, new SaaS and cloud solutions.


Increasingly, integration vendors are playing to that market, too. Informatica's recently announced a new developer edition for its cloud-based data integration platform. Called Informatica Cloud Developer Edition, it's specifically for software vendors and systems integrators who want to create connectors for cloud services.


Likewise, MuleSoft targeted systems integrators with new features as part of its recent iPaaS (integration-platform-as-a-service) release.


"MuleSoft is also targeting systems integrators looking to move up the value chain from low-level integration work with a new QuickStart Plan that offers packaging and pricing for small, fast-growing SaaS vendors and systems integrators," according to a Business Cloud 9 post on the new edition of Mule iON SaaS Edition.


So, it looks like systems integration isn't quite dead yet in fact, it seems to be doing quite well for itself, whether in the cloud or on premise.