Lessons from Cloud Adopters: Integration is a Challenge

survey recently published in InfoQ confirms what has long been predicted: integration is a major challenge among cloud adopters.

Balakrishna Narasimhan and Ryan Nichols of Appirio, who co-authored the survey findings, report that over 75% of respondents consider cloud to cloud integration as a priority, but that only 4% “had fully integrated their cloud applications.” These statistics reveal real world concerns with cloud integration as survey respondents consisted primarily of IT personnel at companies that currently use Software as a Service (SaaS) and/or other cloud applications.

Among their other key findings, Narasimhan and Nichols report that most cloud adopters prefer cloud solutions over on-premises applications when it comes to availability, costs and time to value and are eager to expand their cloud strategies. They also report that former skeptics, particularly IT personnel, have seen firsthand the impact of cloud solutions on driving business goals and are now cloud evangelists.

Aside from drawing needed attention to the experiences and challenges of current cloud users with solid data, Narasimhan and Nichols’ findings clearly also have implications for prospective cloud adopters. For enterprises who have yet to take the plunge, what can be learned from these cloud adoption “pioneers”?

First and foremost, cloud adoption pioneers generally agree that the issues that tend to preclude cloud adoption in the first place, especially security, integration, vendor-lock-in, “are unfounded”. This is comforting news for enterprises who are considering cloud strategies for the first time (but have cold feet) and a win for cloud computing in general.

This is not to say, however, that companies should jump into the cloud blindly. The statistics on integration cited above represent real challenges for cloud users and should prompt prospective cloud users to begin thinking about integration strategies before procuring their first SaaS. That is, by approaching cloud integration from a holistic and strategic perspective rather than as tactical afterthoughts, enterprises will be in a much better position to tackle integration challenges when they do move to the cloud.

With enough foresight and planning, connecting cloud to cloud and cloud to enterprise doesn’t have to be difficult. Current cloud users, meanwhile, can close the gap between their integration goals on the one hand, and existing architectures on the other, by using the right tools.

In response to both the perceived and real challenges of cloud integration, innovative vendors have developed technologies for delivering integration as a service. Integration Platform as a Service (iPaas) has recently emerged as a standalone cloud-based platform for integrating applications. In addition to connecting SaaS to SaaS, iPaaS can also connect the cloud to enterprise, making it possible to seamlessly share data and processes no matter where the source and target systems reside.

Although the iPaaS market is still in its early stages, both current and prospective cloud users would benefit from paying close attention to it. It has tremendous potential to make cloud integration less of a challenge.

 

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