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Integration Matters: Lessons Learned in the (Hybrid) Cloud

It wasn’t too long ago that cloud technology met with skepticism from established enterprises that were used to running their businesses on ERP backbones firmly planted on the ground. The cloud was OK for start-ups – but “real” companies needed the security and familiarity of on-premise.

Today, even the most old-school of companies find it hard to resist the call of the cloud. Easy deployment. Subscription model. Lower capital expense. Just sign up and voilà – you’re off to the races with new business capabilities.

Not so fast

I’m a big advocate of cloud technology – but the fact is, any new cloud solution that stands completely outside of existing business processes and enterprise data is of little value. This is why more companies are spending more time integrating new cloud solutions into environments that are better described as “hybrid” than “cloud-based”. No surprise, then, that leading analysts say, that by 2018, more than 50% of the cost of implementing 90% of new large systems will be spent on integration

Recommendations for cloud success

So, if integration is one of the primary challenges in the brave new world of hybrid/cloud environments, how do you proceed? In my work with SAP Services, helping customers maximize the value of their cloud investments, I’ve learned the following key lessons:

  • Use your vendor-recommended cloud integration architecture
    Don’t mix tools and don’t go “best-of-breed.” If you’re an SAP shop, use SAP tools for SAP solutions. Experience tells me it’s easier all around, especially in the fast moving enhancement of integration ability with cloud vendors. The invention cycles are months or even weeks.
  • Perform a tools and technology selection analysis based on capability mappings
    Know what your needs are – and then choose an integration approach that meets those needs. Doing it the other way around could cause trouble down the road.
  • Analyze interface and connectivity types, and perform a gap analysis
    Understanding what you have in place is a key part of knowing what your needs are. A gap analysis will reveal what’s missing from your existing capabilities belt. Ask for mapping tables and evaluation matrix. Focus on capabilities which are important for your environment and reflect how they are reflected in the tools.
  • Adopt a rapid-deployment methodology
    Avoid death by planning at all costs. Get going quickly and evaluate where you stand. Then you’ll be able to see what the real problems are – rather than wasting time and resources in the planning phase imagining what they might be.

To help you follow through on these recommendations, SAP offers cloud transformation services to help you make the right decisions regarding cloud architecture and integration. As part of these services, we offer specific tools, including:

  • Decision trees – To arrive at integration choices based on use cases that you define
  • Capability mapping – To generate capability matrixes that highlight whether or not integration tools under consideration meet your needs
  • Target integration architectures – To makes informed decisions about information flows and how systems connect
  • Cloud integration checklists – To track project details regarding data, applications, access, SLAs, security, and network issues

When it comes to cloud, the temptation may be to go it alone. I may be biased, but my recommendation is to get the help you need to ensure success.

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