How Do We Solve A Problem Like Cloud Integration?

by Sohini Bagchi    Jan 06, 2016


The cloud has quickly become a mainstay in IT departments, with various research reports stating a huge chunk of businesses using cloud technology in some form or another. However, industry experts believe that cloud integration remains as a key barrier to the adoption of cloud services. 

Take for example the RightScale’s 2015 State of the Cloud report, which surveyed 930 IT professionals about their current adoption and future plans involving cloud computing. The study shows, 88 percent of businesses are using public cloud technology and 63 percent are using private cloud. Eighty-two percent have a hybrid cloud strategy, up from 74 percent in 2014, a clear indication that the cloud has quickly become an essential ingredient of modern IT. Despite that the majority of the businesses in the study are reeling under the challenges of initial migration and integration.

The Rise of Cloud Applications 

A study done by CompTIA on Cloud Computing trends and challenges also sugests that the initial migration and integration posed the largest obstacles to smooth cloud operations. According to Seth Robinson, senior director, technology analysis, CompTIA, “The bulk of the cost and effort for any IT project is typically consumed by integration and cloud computing is no different,” He explained that this gets even more complicated as cloud integration requires web APIs that may be unfamiliar to the technical team,” 

Seth also reveals that with more enterprises using cloud for storage, for business continuity and disaster recovery and also for security, there is increased pressure on CIOs to ensure their cloud architecture is secure, accessible and is efficient, and that it seamlessly integrates with other technology.

In fact, a research from Gartner has shown that up to 90 percent of the total cost of ownership from custom applications comes after the initial development and deployment, and integration is no different.

Dedicated cloud architect

What creates even greater integration hassles is that most non-IT end-users aren’t skilled at integration, scaling, provisioning and administrating technology, believe experts. Needless to say, companies that successfully navigate the initial migration and the secondary integration challenges often have a dedicated cloud architect invaluable.

Here’s how a Forbes article explains cloud architectural skills in one job description: ”Leads in the development of the technical solution or offering, in translating the business needs into technical requirements. Identifies gaps, strategic impacts, financial impacts and the risk profile in the technical solution or offering, and provides technical support.”

Read more: Oracle vs Amazon: The Cloud War Is On

What CIOs need to know

Experts believe, in order to achieve cloud integration, companies should create a framework so that IT should be able to work across multiple applications. In other words, CIOs must ensure that all aspects of cloud integration align with their strategic vision for IT - to achieve greater flexibility at lower costs.

Peter Chase, Founder and VP of Business Development, Scribe Software explains in a blog, “To reach the connected enterprise nirvana, IT needs to reevaluate its underlying approach to integration.” He mentions that with cloud solutions being updated at 5 to 10 times the pace of traditional on-premise apps, the resulting integration challenges and application silos are making IT and business professionals alike pull out their hair in frustration.

“In order to consistently provide the seamless connectivity expected by line of business users, enterprise IT needs to focus on the long-term success of an integration. The first step in that process is recognizing the limitations of custom coding to APIs.” His suggestion is that integrations must adapt constantly over the entire lifecycle of connected applications… and while custom coding allows for some flexibility during the initial integration, on-the-fly changes are much more difficult due to a lack of agility.”

The other approach is the integration lifecycle management, often touted as a long-term approach that’s aided by the use of integration platform as a service (iPaaS) to provide IT and SIs with the tools needed to account for each stage of the lifecycle – that focuses on every stage of integration - from design to development and deployment and beyond.

Answer to the problem

Cloud connectivity challenges may soon be solved with flexible, agile out-of-the-box integration capabilities as more SaaS providers embed integration technology into their applications, but this may be a gradual shift, believe experts.

As the pace of cloud adoption picks up, the right integration approach will become increasingly important in the coming years. Though integration challenges are not new in the history of cloud computing, it’s clear that businesses who ride out the current storm and find the right balance of public, private and hybrid cloud solutions will gain a unique advantage over the competitors.

As Chase concludes in his blog, enterprises need to consider adapting now in order to set the company up with the right connected infrastructure before it’s too late.