The Realities of Cloud Data Integration

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    Drivers and Challenges of Enterprise Integration Revealed

    I’ve written many times about the challenges of integration when you’re dealing with the cloud—either integration with services or integration with cloud infrastructure.

    But I’m starting to see articles that add more depth to the data integration/cloud conversation, particularly when it comes to using cloud infrastructure.

    Baseline Magazine recently published an article, “Integrating Clouds Into the IT Infrastructure,” that reminds us once again that the cloud is permanently changing the role of CIOs and IT within the enterprise.

    “Today, business leaders aren’t necessarily looking to the CIO and IT department to define and install information technology,” Daniel Benton, managing director of the IT Strategy Practice at Accenture, told Baseline. “They’re making their own decisions and turning to cloud providers to deliver the capabilities they desire.”

    Where does that leave IT? Just as with traditional shadow IT, it leaves CIOs playing catch up with the integration of these virtual silos. And the truth is, obtaining services in the cloud isn’t complicated. Lines of business managers are just a click and a credit card away from introducing a new virtual silo.

    According to Benton, IT must demonstrate its value. He’s not the only one who sees integration as shifting from a one-off step in a project to the major strategic objective for IT. The article also notes that Gartner is predicting wider adoption of integration platform as a service (iPaaS). It quotes Gartner Vice President and Research Fellow Massimo Pezzini as saying:

    “In the new world of cloud, mobile, social and big data information, the CIO’s role will increasingly revolve around being the ‘Chief Integration Officer’ for the organization.”

    That’s all well and nice but how, exactly, are CIOs supposed to do all that?

    In some ways, it’s business as usual. You must work with the business to identify the silos and you must integrate them. The data integration techniques really aren’t so different from what most CIOs are doing now with on-premise integration, April Reeves writes in an excerpt from, “Managing Data in Motion: Data Integration Best Practices Techniques and Technologies.”

    “In general, the solutions for data integration regarding data in a public or private cloud are the same as for local data, since access to data is usually through virtual addressing,” Reeves states. “As long as the data consumer has sufficient access to the data located on the cloud, the data integration solutions are the same as for local data, with some additional concerns about latency and security.”

    But the integration is also tricky. From different laws governing different countries to cloud latency caused by multiple security layers across the cloud, data integration with the cloud can become much more complicated than traditional on-premise integration.

    Latency, in particular, can be much more challenging in the cloud:

    What cloud service purveyors minimize in their advertising is that cloud data centers actually do exist in the real world in an actual physical location. … The physical distance of a cloud data center may have latency just as interaction between sites in different regions of the world will have latency. The physical distance from the cloud data center combined with the network infrastructure to and from the cloud data center may exacerbate any delay.

    She also explains the data redundancy issues you’ll face with the cloud.

    Both articles provide more in-depth information about the realities of data in the cloud and are a must-read for CIOs and IT leaders.

    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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