Cloud Presents Another Challenge to Custom Integration

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Choosing Your First Cloud Application Initiative

Questions you should ask to help determine which cloud application path you should pursue.

Chris Chant, director of the G-Cloud program in the UK, believes the model of long-term contracts with systems integrators isn't a viable option in this age of the cloud, according to a recent Computer Weekly article.


After cataloging 1,700 on-demand public-sector IT services, Chant's division learned that systems integrator contracts are often a bad deal for the UK government.


In one case, a major SI asked for more money simply to write a report on the government's IT options than a SME supplier bid to perform the actual service, he said.


"We are not getting value for money in contracts, some of which are measured in decades rather than years," Chant told participants at the Public Sector Efficiency Expo in London recently.


Systems integrators and their custom, hand-coded solutions are facing serious challenges from new technologies. Yesterday, I shared how Big Data may force some organization to move away from hand-coding.


But the real challenge to hand-coded integration seems to be coming from cloud-based solutions, as Phil Wainewright of ZDNet recently pointed out.


"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," he says.


Wainewright admits he thought the cloud would lead to a "if you can't beat them, join them" reaction on the part of system integrators.


"For a long while I thought that the old-school systems integrators led by Accenture, Deloitte, Cap Gemini and others would gradually give up market share to the up-and-coming cloud integrators and ultimately join forces with them through acquisitions and mergers," he writes.


And while there are some mergers going on, there are also integration plays in this space that could up-end the status quo for IT services. In particular, Wainewright says, Dell is using its acquisition of appliance and cloud integration vendor Boomi to change how integration is delivered.


The short version: Dell may do to cloud-based IT services (integration included) what it did for PCs by selling directly back in the 1990s - make it automated, less complicated and cheaper.


That may end up shutting out systems integrators, says Wainewright.


"If providers like Dell can sweep up the volume market with highly automated, low-touch cloud provision while the new cloud integrators scale up their own more customizable automation to address the high-end enterprise market, then traditional SIs, IT resellers and solution providers may end up marginalized," Wainewright writes.


That may sound like craziness now, but then again, Wainewright adds, textile weavers probably thought the same thing at the start of the industrial revolution.


Perhaps systems integrators will find a new role as cloud services brokerages. Robert Fox, director of B2B/EAI software development for Liaison Technologies, recently predicted cloud service brokerages (CSBs) would be one of the top cloud and data integration trends to watch this year, according to eWeek.


Cloud services brokerages will be a sort of clearing house that will manage multiple cloud providers and solutions, including data and integration between on-premise apps and cloud providers.