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A Minimalist Guide to Cloud Integration – Challenges and Benefits

Cloud

November 29, 2022

For today’s enterprises, it is not a question of whether they should keep their systems on-premises or on the cloud. It is more granular than that. It means which systems and services would be best served in which environment for optimal returns on every parameter – leading to a hybrid model combining both on-premises and cloud applications. This approach makes plain business sense. But to accomplish this successfully, enterprises need cloud integration.

What is Cloud Integration?

Simply put, cloud integration is a system of solutions and technologies that connects multiple cloud environments, systems, and applications so that data and processes can exchange information and process it in real-time. Thus, by unifying many disparate information solutions, silos are broken down, visibility gets enhanced and business process streamlining is achieved.

Integrating the Cloud in a Minimal Manner

Because of its very nature, cloud integration can be of multiple types: cloud to cloud integration, cloud to on-premises, or even a combination of both. Irrespective of the type, it is worthwhile to note that both data and applications can be integrated using industry-proven methodologies and tools. When it comes to data integration, synchronization of data assets is critical, since, during the integration process, data may be stored, transported, and/or converted into any other form. For application integration, one needs to connect different systems and processes seamlessly for continued interoperability and flexibility, while avoiding disruption at all costs – thus making it a more complex process and a time-consuming journey compared to data integration.

Challenges of Cloud Integration

The cloud also offers a variety of business applications available that are designed to address every conceivable roadblock or inefficiency. Most are easy to deploy and use and need no training! But there is a caveat. All these apps come with their own data and processes working in siloes and operated on by different departments with different levels of security – a stark contradiction to the term ‘integration’. With data growing by the day, it becomes messy and time-consuming to manage these fragmented assets and data – easily leading to errors and opportunities lost. To thwart this, the cloud integration process becomes an essential conductor and comes with different tactics – each posing a separate challenge.

Vendor-Built or Native Integrations: Most software includes out-of-the-box native integrations allowing users to quickly connect with specific applications – very convenient, cost-effective, and quick to deploy. Nevertheless, the challenge with native integrations is that they are not custom designed and hence, may fail to address specific business cases. Plus, they are not flexible enough to meet changing needs.

Do it Yourself (DIY): Almost anyone can build their own core integration – an approach preferred by many in-house IT teams. But these teams need to be highly trained, and the process is a long drawn one, with results that may turn out to be patchy. Beyond deployment, further resources are also required to maintain them for a flawless user-experience, further adding to the resources required.

Third-Party Point-to-Point (P2P): Similar to vendor-built integrations, point-to-point connectors can also seem easy and cost-effective. But delve a little deeper and one will see how they are typically domain-specific – thus hampering flexibility and ability to manage complex processes. The choice is further complicated in the cloud app marketplace, with thousands of cloud apps available today. It’s a task unto itself to pinpoint the correct individual point-to-point connectors that match individual enterprise needs.

Benefits of Cloud Integration

Cloud integration is not just a short-term technological or tactical tool to overcome a business challenge. Since it involves a considerable amount of deliberation and investment in terms of costs and manpower to oversee the process, it should be approached as a holistic digital transformation catalyst whose many benefits listed below will continue to be reaped well into the future. Bottomline: it’s worth it!

Mobile Accessibility: Anytime, anywhere access to data and applications becomes the first advantage upon a successful cloud integration, allowing teams to stay connected and collaborate from almost any connected device.

Reduced Costs, Enhanced ROI: Next, it’s savings+returns. With most cloud models working on a pay-as-you-go basis, enterprises save on huge CAPEX and OPEX expenditures. SaaS licenses are available per use or for a pre-defined period.

Provides Portability: Business dynamics can change in the blink of an eye – and so does the IT requirements. There is no linear way to approach this challenge anymore. One of the biggest advantages of cloud integration is how it can auger greater application and data portability, thus befitting all stakeholders.

Introduces Newer Tools: The freedom to choose can sometimes unlock newer possibilities and avenues for growth. By unchaining or unlocking from a single IT environment, cloud integration can help adopt newer cloud-native applications, services, and solution providers. Options are galore, and you stand to get what you want, when you want, from where you want.

Simplifies Maintenance: For providers of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS services, managing and maintaining the IT infrastructure is part of the job. By veering away from this resource-draining responsibility, enterprises can focus on their own core competencies and fulfill the business objectives of today and tomorrow.

Revs up Reliability: When it comes to matters of security, a cloud infrastructure is simply a better alternative than on-premise legacy systems. This reliability means that service interruption or even a speed reduction is rare for those using the cloud.

Introduces Efficiency in Data Storage: Many enterprises have a tendency for data to be spread across different storages or silos. Not only does this practice make duplication a challenge, but also creates a hindrance to accessing it. With cloud integration, data is synced and redundancy is eliminated, leading to not just savings, but better allocation and a secure IT environment, both within and outside the enterprise.

Boosts Security: Cloud-based data and applications back up frequently to address any breach or interruption quickly. Additionally, cloud providers and software publishers handle the physical security of infrastructure and at least some level of application security.

Embraces the Future: Evolving objectives need an internal IT evolution as well. Thanks to the cloud, you are no longer restricted to the availability of today, since the door is always open for any integration in the future. Maximum efficiency is guaranteed even as your needs grow.

The Easiest Way to Execute Cloud Integration

If cloud integration is a decision that is already agreed upon, the next question would be how to go about it. Sure, the question is a tough one, but thankfully, the answer is not. Enter Integration platform as a service (iPaaS).

iPaaS is a relatively new automated toolkit that can integrate software applications across different environments. For large enterprises that have deployed complex and geographically spread systems, iPaaS offers an unmatched way to integrate applications and data on both public and private clouds. iPaaS comes with pre-built connectors, business rules, maps, and transformation processes to make it all happen. For those who need it, there are also bespoke development kits to modernize legacy applications while adding next-gen capabilities. Although it’s possible for IT departments to handle integration themselves, it is sometimes more efficient and economical to take that management obligation away from IT staff and shift it into the hands of a third-party iPaaS provider.

The Criteria to Choose a Trusted Cloud integration Partner

The parameters to choose a trusted cloud integration partner are just a few. Yet, for enterprises seeking an effective cloud integration journey, each and every one of them is of paramount importance, because it can make all the difference between success and failure.

Industry Expertise: Even the simplest cloud is an amalgamation of highly varied technologies that are evolving almost continuously. In light of this, your cloud integration partner should possess experience that is industry-proven and is absolutely on the same page as the enterprise’s own unique needs, strategies, and long-term vision. Ask questions and keep asking until you find the answers that satisfy every checkbox, including team skills, industry exposure, and case studies of integrations managed in the past.

Technical Expertise: As mentioned earlier, with the cloud’s constantly evolving nature, technology upgrades demand upgrading skillsets as well. For a partner, this becomes a make-or-break parameter. From understanding business objectives to ensuring that the right technology with the right skill set is available on-demand, a cloud integration partner can help asses planning and execution in a disciplined manner across phases so as to minimize disruption. From meeting the needs of today to anticipating those of tomorrow, can the partner stay in step all along the way?

Customer Service Expertise: Next to cloud technology know-how, this may seem quite secondary, but it is far from. How a cloud integration partner can provide the highest customer satisfaction can mean a stress-free journey from day one. Questions to ask should cover responsiveness, challenges overcome, dedicated team deployment, etc.

Certifications and Standards: In an environment of growing regulatory compliance that differs from region to region, the cloud integration partner should know and practice all legal obligations with certifications and standards that ably demonstrate their obligations to all current industry best practices, while keeping an eye on the changing regulatory landscape.

Security: It’s a fundamental rule that should be followed with zero tolerance for any shortcomings. The measures taken toward data security are a key differentiator when selecting a cloud integration partner. A 24/7/365 monitoring system, state-of-the-art tools with failsafe procedures, and threat response mechanisms are an absolute must.

Hexaware: We do Cloud Integration Right the First Time, Every Time

As a trusted partner to some of the world’s leading enterprises, Hexaware’s cloud integration prowess is second to none. With its automation-first approach, Hexaware’s Patented IP platform amaze® for applications, enables rapid assessment of legacy applications irrespective of their complexity and performs an in-depth analysis to identify integration patterns and application interdependencies. Along with suggesting new integration methods, amaze® also helps in identifying road blockers, creating wave groups, and tailor-made cloud modernization roadmap.

Across industry verticals and geographies, amaze® has helped amplify the business benefits of the cloud by focusing on accelerated digital transformation. Our cloud integration practice is further strengthened by partnerships with leading product vendors and Cloud service providers to help realize optimal outcomes across the entire cloud integration journey and beyond.

For more information, please visit: https://hexaware.com/services/digital-core-transformation/enterprise-integration/

About the Author

Karan Pithadia

Karan Pithadia

Karan Pithadia works with Hexaware’s amaze® R&D Engineering function as a Sr. Functional Analyst. He is responsible for product marketing activities, like creation of go-to-market assets and its promotion across different social media platforms. He demonstrates multi-tasking in managing various marketing deliverables. He is actively involved with SMEs to plan & execute contents for communicating Hexaware’s amaze® product suite services to the external world for better brand recognition.

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