The cloud carries immense and immediate promise for enterprises of all sizes: greater agility, reduced costs, data-driven innovation, and smoother collaboration. “Cloud computing has reached an inflection point for enterprises — a comprehensive strategy for broad adoption and use is now required,” according to Forrester research.
But in the rush to leverage the latest cloud technology, many businesses overlook one of the most critical drivers of ROI: cloud integration. Without a solid integration strategy, businesses inadvertently start creating data silos and fragmented work processes.
Here are three tips for organizations looking to optimize their cloud experience:
1. PLAN AHEAD FOR THE “PROBLEM OF PLENTY”
Line of business (LoB) leaders often procure cloud applications to address specific departmental or project-based needs, but don’t communicate that to each other — or even to IT. By adding cloud technology on an ad hoc, a la carte basis, organizations create unnecessary complexity, which is a sure path toward future headaches and inefficiencies.
This “problem of plenty” — too many separate solutions, leading to siloed data spread out across disconnected departments — can sneak up on businesses quickly. Taken individually, each solution adds value; taken in combination, trouble sets in. As I’ve noted in a previous post, avoiding this dysfunction and thinking proactively about cloud integration is a critical priority for businesses making the transition to cloud.
A first step is knowing how what you already have fits into your plans for the future. “You want to reuse and leverage your existing investments that you have on-prem[ise], you want to leverage some of the investments you have as a managed service, and you want [a seamless transition] in terms of moving to the cloud,” says SAP’s Sindhu Gangadharan, VP and Head of Product Management, PI, HCI, and FSN. “Integration is key to making that journey comfortable for the customer.”
Data silos defeat the whole purpose of the cloud. To break down these walls (or never erect them in the first place), LoB leaders must open communication lines with CIOs and enterprise architects. Just because LoB decision makers may have purchasing power when it comes to the cloud, that does not mean that they should be cutting IT out of the conversation.
2. AVOID POINT-TO-POINT INTEGRATION
When only a handful of systems are involved, point-to-point integration may seem the best way of bridging the gaps; virtually all SaaS vendors provide APIs which invite P2P integration. But there’s a downside: Each additional system or application adds exponentially to complexity. Adding a tenth system, for example, requires the creation of nine new connection points. The failure of any one of these points can reduce your agility and expose you to security risks.
3. PRIORITIZE PAINLESS MIDDLEWARE
Cloud integration should be so painless that it practically feels like a non-topic. Rollouts that might take 4-5 years to complete on-premises are often taking only 4-6 weeks with cloud services.
To ensure and expedite a successful integration, it’s critical to standardize on one middleware early in the cloud journey. I will explore the nuances of ideal middleware in future posts, but there are a few key qualities to keep top of mind as you begin your search. Your solution should:
- Cut time and cost by bundling technology with broad selection, pre-packaged content.
- Neatly integrate existing assets and investments.
- Empower your business to manage integration on your own.
- Be part of an overall application platform-as-a-service that helps your organization customize and integrate prepackaged cloud and ground applications.
Companies that follow these guidelines and treat cloud integration as a high priority will achieve a significant competitive advantage, extracting much more value from the cloud overall.
To learn how SAP is helping customers reap the benefits of cloud integration, read Getting Started with SAP HANA Cloud Integration (HCI).