What is cloud integration?

For modern businesses, it's no longer a question of whether they should keep their systems on-premises or in the cloud. It's which systems and services would be best served in which environment. That means that a hybrid of both on-premises and cloud applications has become the norm. But what exactly is cloud integration?

Cloud integration is the process of connecting the data from all of an organization’s systems, on-premises, local, and cloud applications (including multi-cloud systems), so that the business users have access to all of the business data on one platform and in real time. Cloud integration, a subset of the larger field of systems integration, refers to the combination of practices, tools, and technology a business uses to connect on-premises, local, and cloud applications, data, services and systems, and even whole IT environments, so that data from these disparate systems can be easily accessed and shared on one platform. Once combined the data and services can be shared or accessed via multiple devices either over a network or the internet.

Cloud integration was the answer to the proliferation of SaaS applications. Essentially, with so many people using different software services, organizations were finding that the data from all these applications could not be easily shared between teams. Businesses ended up with islands of data or data silos, where employees could not get a complete view of customers. In this type of scenario, there's no consistent understanding of customer preferences, behaviors, and needs. By bringing all of the data sources together, cloud integration provides holistic access and visibility into business data for optimization of business processes and effective data analytics. It enables businesses to better manage their customers, processes and operations. Cloud integration arose from IT's need to maintain different cloud resources and data sets as well as to combine on-premises data with different cloud environments.

iPaaS is the easiest way to cloud integration

Each enterprise will have its own integration requirements and operational goals and often times teams do not have the expertise in house. Therefore, hiring a trusted partner can help a business quickly get its cloud environment up and running. In fact, most outsource to third party vendors simply because the scope of maintaining integrations can become quite complex and even sometimes require full-time staff to monitor. Since it is so difficult, expensive and there's so much to consider, most companies turn to an integration platform as a service or iPaaS. An iPaaS, a type of cloud integration platform, makes it easy to set up any kind of integration.

Using an API conduit in the enterprise stack is regarded as the easiest, most efficient, and fast way to bring data together. With APIs, teams can easily bridge gaps between islands and core IT systems. Today, API creation and application connectivity are critical enablers to quickly and easily connect on-premises services with cloud applications. You should look for a cloud integration solution that supports the full lifecycle of API creation, deployment, and retirement. You should also look for a cloud integration solution that has pre-built connectors to your most-used software. A connector is a pre-built solution that will automate many mundane tasks (such as extracting the data from Salesforce to your ERP). If a company has a lot of connectors, then it's safe to say they have a lot of experience with all different kinds of integrations. Also look for an iPaaS that requires no coding. Again, an iPaaS should do all the heavy-lifting for you. Also, make sure that it can connect processes and data for diverse scenarios including application-to-application or any other types of connections you may need.

Common cloud integration use cases

The purpose of cloud integration is to streamline infrastructure, scale up resources, and most importantly to enhance collaboration between team members. Cloud integration is ideal for sharing data and analytics tools between multiple workers, even those that are separated by great distances. When implemented properly, integration can automate complex workflows and reduce redundant data that could lead to errors. Cloud integration can improve operational efficiency, flexibility and scalability, as well as reduce operating costs.

Common use cases include:

  • Develop cloud-native integration applications for hybrid cloud deployments
  • Integrate on-premises applications, services, and systems
  • Build consumable web APIs out of backend web services like SOAP, SAP, Oracle, IBM MQ, etc.
  • Transform existing integration applications to cloud-native
  • Orchestrate services and APIs for end to end processing

Today, data exists in many forms - in files, databases, applications, warehouses, big data stores in the cloud and on premises. A cloud integration platform will allow you to connect those assets to your employees, partners and most importantly customers quickly and easily so you can take advantage of all the new technologies such as IoT, AI, and more.

Cloud Integration Diagram