Are we doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past, or can we learn from them and prioritize integration as we embrace cloud-based IT?
The majority of IT departments struggle to connect new applications to self-contained silos of information. These silos are typically assigned their own server (most likely a virtual one these days) along with their own data store (often a self-contained database on yet another SQL server). Integrating these silos with other applications and data stores may be little more than an afterthought. Worse still, responsibility for this important task may be delegated to line of business (LOB) managers that don’t understand the implications of improper integration, and aren’t motivated to do anything about it.
Silos Grow Out of Control
The end result of these poorly integrated silos is an ever-growing collection of isolated information strung together by inconsistent attempts at integration, which in some cases furthers the problem. Living with all these silos is hard, and keeping the information within them current and consistent is an ongoing battle with major implications when it comes to accuracy and data center efficiency.
Unfortunately, this same practice has carried over into the cloud, creating even more silos of information. Furthermore, silos in the cloud can be even harder to maintain, find, manage, and integrate with other applications.
It’s particularly worrying when it comes to public cloud applications that are finding their way into the enterprise. Easy access to public cloud applications provides LOB managers with a quick and easy solution to a number of problems, and with no need to involve IT.
Service providers may pay lip service to integration, but their version of integration often means pulling information from other apps rather than actually working with them. Moreover, in most cases, hardly any thought or guidance will be available as to how customers should bridge the physical divide between the cloud and the corporate data center.
Fortunately, and contrary to what many might claim, we aren’t genetically predisposed to repeat the mistakes of the past. By understanding the dangers upfront and putting integration at the top of the agenda whenever a new development is planned, we can leave the silo generation behind. It needs to be made clear to everyone involved what their responsibilities are, and what’s at stake in the long term when they ignore this part of the application equation.
For example, those commissioning new applications need to understand that they can’t just conjure up a new application in isolation. Any new application needs to work with and share information with those run by other business units, and they should understand that there are positive benefits to be gained from doing so.
IT departments need to understand the need for expert guidance and ensure that the integration tools they use are both accessible and easy to use. More than that, the tools need an adaptive and fluid approach to integration that can facilitate the integration of new developments, whether they’re run on-premise or in the cloud.