Should You Outsource Cloud Integration?

Loraine Lawson
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Top 10 Security Questions to Ask Before Outsourcing Any IT

As with all challenges, cloud integration can be seen as a problem or an opportunity.


The potential problem: The cloud allows us to build even more silos as we expand to the cloud.


The opportunity: To rethink integration, and create a new, more functional, integration strategy, says David Linthicum, who blogs about cloud computing for InfoWorld.


Integration is more cost effective today than ever - and that makes it easier to make the ROI case for it, according to Linthicum. Standards make integration simpler and solutions that would have once cost a million dollars can now be found for a fraction of that, he writes.


That doesn't mean you should shrug off due diligence about integration in the cloud, however.


Without a plan, integration requirements can quickly erode the so-called "IT-free" value proposition of cloud solutions, warns Deloitte Consulting's Mark White and Bill Briggs in a free 2012 report on technology trends. CIO.com wrote about this challenge, and included this telling quote from the report:

As more functional business leaders independently subscribe to cloud offerings outside of the trappings of traditional IT, underlying business processes can become riddled with multiple cloud players that the organization itself must integrate and orchestrate. As a result, much of the IT-free' value proposition can dissipate at the enterprise level.

Oops. That's not good.


One option the article explores is the idea of off-loading integration to a third party, aka a cloud service broker. Mohawk, the largest premium paper manufacturer in North America, looked at its options for integrating cloud services, including iPaaS and integration appliances, but in the end, the company decided it did not want to be in the integration business.


So, it outsourced its cloud integration to Liaison, an aggregator and orchestrator of cloud services, to manage its cloud and on-premise integrations. Liaison takes the burden of integration off the company's six-person IT staff, while still allowing Mohawk to integrate its supply chain with 300 customers, 100 suppliers and external e-commerce partners. The cloud service brokerage also mediates Mohawk's third-party cloud services providers.


Giving up on the tactical, technical issues allowed Mohawk to focus on adding the new, external service to its applications, as when it added a foreign currency conversion service, the article points out.


How do you know if this approach will work for you?


The CIO.com piece offers a few guidelines for using a cloud service broker for any function, not just integration - but for the most part, all apply. Briggs and White suggest you consider a cloud service broker if all five of these factors are at play:


  • Predictable pricing
  • Ubiquitous network access
  • Resource pooling and location independence
  • The ability for users to directly access the service
  • Elasticity of supply, meaning the ability to scale as your needs change

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Feb 14, 2012 1:45 PM carson carson  says:

Outsourcing seems to make the most sense as long as in-house teams can handle management once the integration is complete.  If ongoing maintenance is also required I would way that cost (of a contract) against that of training current staff or bringing a new resource on-board. 

Mar 9, 2012 12:07 PM Nathan Bisk Nathan Bisk  says:

The first step should be to determine if your business is suitable for cloud integration. I feel that most businesses should analyze their operations and determine the potential cost savings in cloud technology.

Apr 8, 2012 12:20 PM perficiosoft perficiosoft  says:

Pretty great post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your weblog posts. In any case I will be subscribing for your feed and I hope you write once more soon! Thanks

May 25, 2012 12:02 PM minte lume minte lume  says:

This article reminds me about a book, "Subordinates Manipulation", funny, but true. Thinking in that way changes almost all that a business means today. Taking care of employees means taking care of your business. Finally everyone is happy. About the lessons, it would be nice to improve your Network Security before implementing that, because you don't want to damage your IT infrastructure.


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