Is Integration Becoming an Asset for the Cloud?


Integration may be shifting from a liability to a non-issue and possibly even an asset for SaaS and cloud computing.


Two things make me think this. First, it seems some companies are moving their EDI (electronic data interchange) services to the cloud, which means they can finally eliminate those expensive, hosted value-added networks.


EDI is a pre-Internet standard for electronic commerce, commonly used by banks and ATMs. We're talking old-school, legacy technology dating back to the '60s and '70s here.


Now Boomi has found a way to offer EDI via the cloud. ASP Global Services (ASPGS), a supply chain SaaS company, is using Boomi's Atmosphere cloud-based integration solution, for "reliable and high-visibility EDI integration and management services," according to this Integration Developer News article.


A long time ago, I wrote about SaaS as an alternative to EDI. That's not what this is. This is EDI via the cloud, which means companies could keep their EDI-based legacy systems, but gain the scalability of the cloud:

ASP Global Services is using Boomi Atmosphere cloud-based integration offering to seamlessly connect the ASP warehouse management system (SphereWMS) with multiple client applications. As a result, a cloud-based EDI connection is allowing ASPGS clients to eliminate expensive VAN (Value Added Network) services by letting customers use the cloud to directly send and receive orders in industry standard formats.

That's pretty big news, considering how long VAN-delivered EDIs have had a hold on electronic data. You can see how using the Web would be much cheaper than renting a separate network for EDI. The article explains how Boomi has answered the integration question, but the article doesn't discuss security issues, and that would be my first big question.


Besides bringing companies into the 21st century, delivering EDI via the cloud is easier, quicker and more scalable, according to Mike Mullane, the CEO of ASPGS, who says Boomi's solution has accelerated its sales cycle and reduced development times.


The second piece of news that suggests companies are less concerned about cloud integration comes from a recent survey of 565 IT pros in the United States and Canada.


The survey was sponsored by Mimecast, an e-mail management firm that sells a SaaS-based solution, but conducted by online survey provider Zoomerang and conducted last October. Mimecast is focusing on the fact that many respondents are considering cloud computing and there's a reported shift in the way they see the cloud. Specifically:

  • 70 percent of IT decision-makers reported they were already using cloud computing, and plan to move additional solutions to the cloud.
  • 62 percent of all respondents say they have or are considering cloud computing.
  • 33 percent cited maturity and 32 percent cited better integration with existing systems when asked what would change their minds about the cloud.


At the same time, integration still remains a concern for some who are not moving ahead with the cloud, but the percentage is unimpressive: 26 percent cited legacy/integration worries. In fact, if you read the full survey, available for free download, you'll find that integration ranked the lowest of all reasons cited, below concerns about security (46 percent), loss of control (39 percent), costs (36 percent), existing infrastructure investments (32 percent) and performance concerns (31 percent).