Head off Cloud Integration Woes

Loraine Lawson

Unless you've been living in a cloud, by now you know all about the integration issues with cloud computing.


Let's say you have been living in cloud city. No worries; in brief, cloud integration is an issue because:

  • There are no standards.
  • While cloud vendors may help you migrate data to the cloud, they don't help you integrate it with on-premise data, leaving you to fend for yourself. The exception, according to David Linthicum, is SalesForce.


And this is an issue for businesses because, as David Linthicum recently explained:

  • You need to be able to maintain an up-to-date copy of your data on-premise, just in case there's a problem with the in-the-cloud provider.
  • You need to retain the flexbility to move the data according to the needs of your business. Quoth Linthicum, "Those who only had to deal with systems talking intra-data center have some new challenges when they consider cloud computing."
  • You may need access to that data for MDM or governance.


Now that we're clear on the problem, we can start to talk about a solution, right? Linthicum got the ball rolling in his post, offering three suggestions for how you can best head off these issues before you move to the cloud.


As often happens with these things, ReadWriteCloud's Alex Williams piggybacked off Linthicum's piece, adding his own take. And though it's slightly different, I also found a relevant TechTarget podcast on SaaS integration featuring data guru and consultant Rick Sherman of Athena IT.


Here's what I took away from all these readings: Cloud and SaaS integration is solvable, but as with most things integration, it's actually more of a planning issue than a technology question. Or, put another way -- we're back on that old enterprise architecture question again.


That said, there are a few specific steps these pieces recommended:

  • Figure out your full business requirements before you go into the cloud. Linthicum suggested this, and it sounds simple, but let's face it: We're all too focused on the short term these days. Shortcuts now mean integration problems down the road, you can bet on it.
  • Go with a large vendor, suggests Williams. "The large service providers offer the safest bet," he writes. "They are vested in the future of cloud computing and are developing ecosystems that consist of third-party partners. A number of these partners specialize in cloud-based application deployments."
  • Ask the integration company or systems integrator questions about its cloud or SaaS capabilities, recommends Sherman. Specific questions: Does it have experience with the cloud or SaaS? What does it see as the barrier to implementation from its own perspective?
  • Opt for data integration suites, Sherman says. Look for solutions that go beyond moving data to incorporate things like data cleansing, data profiling, and so on.


Sherman's podcast focuses on SaaS, but I recommend it anyway, since there are some common issues there when you're dealing with data integration. He also offers advice for those who are contemplating handling their own integration or hiring a systems integrator.


As Williams notes, there are a lot of options out there. If you're really not sure where to start, Arthur Cole discussed about some of the smaller, though not too small, vendor solutions in a recent IT Business Edge post.

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