The Importance of SaaS Integration

The increasing adoption of SaaS and other cloud services leads to the proliferation of information silos, creating a need for integration across the cloud and enterprise. While the cloud may be the source of new integration challenges, it is also the place to find both short- and long-term solutions.

In a recent poll, CDW found that 28% of U.S. organizations currently use a cloud computing service. Cloud.com also conducted a survey of CTOs, architects, developers and IT managers, reporting that 20% of respondents currently deploy a cloud computing service while another 61% are in the planning stages of implementing a cloud project. The primary reasons cited for adopting cloud strategies were to lower hardware costs, reduce management burdens, achieve faster deployment times and improve scalability.

Although these are perfectly valid reasons, the unintended consequence of hastily adopting and implementing a cloud strategy in order to achieve business objectives is the rapid proliferation of information silos. Each time a new SaaS or cloud app is deployed, valuable enterprise data becomes segregated into a cloud silo. Very quickly, you end up with a hodgepodge of fragmented cloud silos and business efficiency ultimately suffers. What we need is a way to seamlessly integrate data and functionality between the cloud and enterprise.

Even though the cloud may be to blame for these new integration challenges, it would be hard to completely avoid it. Given the statistics cited above, it’s clear that the cloud is here to stay. In fact, we can look to the cloud for integration solutions.

There are several short-term cloud integration solutions available on the market, offered either as an embedded feature of widely used SaaS applications (such as Salesforce.com’s popular CRM products) or as standalone cloud-based integration services from a third-party provider. These solutions are typically “out of the box,” point-to-point solutions where data directly flows from one system or application to another.

These solutions are effective as quick fixes for getting data and resources out of cloud silos into legacy enterprise systems, but as business needs change and the number of integration points increases, a point-to-point architecture is too brittle to scale accordingly. The black box nature of such solutions also means that users lose flexibility in orchestrating, managing, monitoring and controlling integration flows.

By thinking ahead about long-term integration needs in addition to short-term requirements, enterprises can avoid the headache of “spaghetti integration.” With the rapid pace of change and innovation in cloud computing, it’s no surprise that the latest in integration technology is emerging from that space as well.

iPaaS, which stands for Integration Platform as a Service, is a new on-demand cloud service currently being offered by a few vendors that is specifically designed for tackling integration in the cloud era. As a fully cloud-based integration platform, it includes a comprehensive set of capabilities that can support different integration scenarios ranging from simple, point-to-point integrations to SOA-type projects.

In other words, iPaaS can adapt to your changing integration needs in a flexible and scalable manner, on top of providing full service orchestration, intermediation, and tools for monitoring and managing integration flows. Enterprise security, of course, cannot be overlooked when it comes to cloud integration and iPaaS includes a secure means of accessing enterprise data without compromising the firewall.

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