There's a shift in how organizations want to use the cloud-and the change is likely to make integration even more central to their adoption.
Instead of a one-way sharing of information-the type you'd see with an initial implementation of Salesforce-organizations that have already tried cloud now see it as an extension of existing IT resources and a means of achieving broader business goals. And as a result, their integration needs are becoming more complex.
For instance, independent market research firm Appirio queried 155 IT decision makers at companies that had already adopted one or more cloud applications. A recent article in The Huffington Post highlighted these findings as evidence of this focus on using cloud to achieve business goals:
- 82 percent of cloud adopters said cloud computing helped them achieve a specific business objective.
- 70 percent said cloud apps and platforms are changing the role of IT, "making it a true enabler of growth," according to The Huffington Post. Seventy percent said IT was the primary driver of cloud adoption-a somewhat surprising finding, since common knowledge suggests business units often move first on SaaS and cloud. Then again, they were querying IT leaders, so perhaps there's a bit of a bias there.
The article's writers, Ben Kerschberg and Narinder Singh, suggest this focus on business goals will make integration an important issue for cloud providers and adopters:
... with companies adopting more and more different cloud services, issues like cloud-to-cloud integration and the re-emergence of information silos across different cloud providers will need to be addressed. Companies will also need to focus on improving access to cloud apps and use productivity across different devices now that smart phones and tablets are gaining ground on PCs in the work world.
Also, consider Tom Nolle's recent observation that enterprises see cloud as a "resource model," or extension of their existing IT infrastructure, and you can see why integration is likely to be a focal point as organizations put the cloud to work. Nolle is the president and founder of CIMI Corporation and a principal consultant/analyst. He surveyed 277 enterprises about their cloud use. He learned that most feel the way vendors and analysts talk about the cloud doesn't reflect their intentions for adoption:
'This isn't about evolving to the cloud,' one told me. 'It's about evolving our IT model. The cloud is just a kind of resource model.' That seems to cut to the heart of the enterprises' issue set. They have IT commitments and they'd like to integrate these with cloud computing to the extent the integration makes business sense. But they have to start with what their IT commitment is, and that's the topic they feel is being ignored.
That may help explain why, in a global governance survey by the IT Governance Institute (ITGI), one-third of respondents said "significant legacy infrastructure investments are inhibiting their cloud computing plans," according to Information Management.
All of this adds up to a need for more complex and thorough cloud integration. Batch uploads, read-only integration and cloud silos aren't cutting it anymore; companies want integration between on-premise and cloud applications-a fact not lost on vendors. Ilan Sehayek, CTO of the open source integration company, Jitterbit, recently told Integration Developer News:
Over the past two years, we've seen a shift is what companies want in terms of cloud integration' solutions ... Starting in 2009, the thrust for cloud integration was for companies that needed to integrate with SaaS applications. But in 2011, we're seeing the need for cloud integration going further.