Six Strategic Thinking Points for Managing Cloud Integration

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    Strategic Integration: 10 Business-Building Tips

    For some time now, APIs have been the primary way to handle cloud integration. In fact, a recent survey by API management company, Layer 7, found that cloud integration is the number two adoption driver—behind mobility—for API programs.

    One of the reasons APIs are so popular is that they’re simple and concise. You’re basically exposing something—a capability, data, etc.—as a service and using the API to call it.

    In the past, API management was primarily the domain of SaaS companies or developers who created APIs. But as more companies adopt cloud-based solutions and mobile platforms—and the API problems that come with them—that’s changing.

    “Enterprises are increasingly recognizing APIs as a cornerstone of the modern open hybrid enterprise,” said Dimitri Sirota, senior vice president, security for CA Technologies and co-founder of Layer 7. “For an organization to be successful, it must have a strategy to deploy and manage the APIs that will enable it to secure and leverage data, empower a mobilized workforce and engage with the developers driving the app economy.”

    But integration by API isn’t always as simple as you’re told, which is why you’re likely hearing more about API management tools, often from vendors who are offering these solutions.

    “Most SaaS providers try to make their web APIs simple, but few are actually successful,” writes Rob Fox, vice president of application development for Liaison Technologies, in a recent Network World column. “Just like many on-premise systems, the specifications for cloud APIs can be unwieldy, often hundreds of pages long, and integrating with them is no trivial matter.”

    A few of the issues Fox says you should consider:

    1. How will the data from the SaaS application be translated into an on-premise system?
    2. APIs change. How will that change be managed?
    3. What’s your deployment timeline?
    4. Should the integration be a capital expense or an outsourcing project expense?
    5. Is integration a required internal core competency? “For some enterprises, having in-house integration capabilities is important for commercial or other essential business reasons,” Fox writes.
    6. Think beyond the initial integration to scalability. If you plan on taking a do-it-yourself approach to the integration, you’ll need to think beyond this one project or you risk continuously re-inventing the wheel, he argues.

    It’s also worth noting that of those who’ve tried their own cloud projects, KPMG found nearly a third reported it was harder and more expensive than they anticipated, particularly when it came to integration, implementation and transition.

    “Avoiding the pitfalls of this siloed approach to integration projects is critical, and businesses must build out an explicit integration sourcing strategy as early as possible in the cloud adoption process,” Fox writes. “The reality is that, while cloud services for both back-office systems and B2B processes can offer tremendous efficiencies, achieving these efficiencies requires a high level of coordination and integration.”

    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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