Four Use Cases That Take the Labor Out of Cloud Integration

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    Five Disruptive Forces Changing the Role of the Systems Integrator

    Office workers like to talk about hard work, but let’s face it: Most of our work doesn’t even rise to the level of “hard,” especially when you consider the labor conditions of the late 1800s when Labor Day was made into a national holiday.

    The very poor and recent immigrants (one assumes also very poor) often worked in unsafe mills, factories and mines, where they were denied such niceties as fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks in their strenuous 12-hour, seven-day work weeks.

    Compared to that, you can hardly call integration work — even with the cloud — “hard.”

    Nonetheless, application and data integration are not what you would call simple or easy. When it comes to SaaS application adoption, 43 percent out of 106 companies surveyed by SnapLogic/TechValidate said application and data integration challenges are the primary barriers to adoption in their companies. (Participants chose more than one answer.)

    That’s just slightly below data privacy, which led as an adoption barrier for 47 percent of the companies.

    Unlike days past, the challenge here isn’t to work harder and longer, but to work smarter and more quickly. The survey found 59 percent cited speed or time-to-value as the primary business driver for investing in a cloud integration platform.

    It’s important to note, however, that you don’t necessarily have to use a cloud integration platform to resolve cloud integration problems.

    Actually, a recent TechTarget article identified four ways to simplify your integration work.

    Veteran software tester Amy Reichert outlines four different use cases (in the engineering sense of a list of steps defining interactions between a role and a system) for cloud integration:

    IPaaS services: They provide integration as a service via APIs, prebuilt connectors or messaging systems. An iPaaS service lets you focus on connecting data and applications instead of maintaining a server infrastructure system, writes Reichert.

    The catch: You’re stuck paying for the service and the options below may add more value.

    Cloud-to-cloud: Integrating cloud applications to cloud applications gives you a number of benefits, such as the ability to share data “fluidly and accurately,” which better supports business processes, according to Reichert. 

    The catch: Your cloud applications must have an integration layer that can send and receive the data, usually via Web services. That means supporting data transformation, encryption and transportation.

    Cloud to integrator to cloud: In this scenario, you’re using traditional on-premise middleware to handle the integration work. It lets you keep costs down by repurposing your middleware, and allows you to customize the integration work.

    The catch: You’ll need  a mature integration infrastructure and the chops to develop your own integration points between cloud solutions.

    Hybrid cloud: Hybrid cloud is expected to grow 31 percent over the next year, according to Technology Business Research (TBR). TBR defines hybrid cloud as “cloud-to-cloud integration across a single workload and between two workloads that can be split into three sections: Private-private, private-public and public-public.”

    As Reichert explains it, “The hybrid cloud system is in essence a prebuilt integration model.” While each cloud remains separate, they are all integrated to support data movement.

     “It has become increasingly popular for many reasons, among them, that it allows organizations to maintain data control and access, leverage existing investments in computing infrastructure and migrate to cloud computing at their own pace,” writes Reichert. She outlines other benefits, as well.

    The catch: You need a hybrid cloud, of course. That’s not something every organization wants or needs to support.

    Loraine Lawson is a veteran technology reporter and blogger. She currently writes the Integration blog for IT Business Edge, which covers all aspects of integration technology, including data governance and best practices. She has also covered IT/Business Alignment and IT Security for IT Business Edge. Before becoming a freelance writer, Lawson worked at TechRepublic as a site editor and writer, covering mobile, IT management, IT security and other technology trends. Previously, she was a webmaster at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and a newspaper journalist. Follow Lawson at Google+ and on Twitter.

    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson is a freelance writer specializing in technology and business issues, including integration, health care IT, cloud and Big Data.

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