Data integration and business logic are essential for business processes, from DevOps to customer service. Unfortunately, 89% of organizations currently have a data and functional integrations backlog.
Traditional integration uses manual coding and testing, which is both time-consuming and expensive. That’s why many businesses are looking to cloud integration as a solution. Cloud integration automates the process, making it far more efficient.
There are already mature data integration tools in public and private cloud platforms like AWS or CloudStack data centers. The challenge is when businesses use multi-cloud, hybrid cloud, or on-premises architecture and require functional/business logic integrations as well.
Cloud integration platforms like OpenLegacy use pre-built connectors and adaptors to integrate a range of cloud and on-premises environments. But what is cloud integration, and what are its benefits and challenges? Let’s find out.
What is a cloud integration platform?
A cloud integration platform connects separate cloud-based and on-premises systems by integrating data, business logic, and applications, and automating workflows. As such, cloud integration optimizes business processes and breaks down data silos.
When people think of cloud integration, they’re usually picturing iPaaS (integration platform as a service). Gartner defines iPaaS as “a suite of cloud services enabling development, execution, and governance of integration flows connecting any combination of on-premises and cloud-based processes, services, applications, and data within individual or across multiple organizations.”
Put simply, this means iPaaS providers offer cloud-to-on-premises and cloud-to-cloud integration. This makes them perfect for businesses that operate in multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments.
Two categories of cloud integration platforms
Within the wider umbrella of cloud integration platforms, there are two key types: EiPaaS and DSiPaaS.
EiPaaS (enterprise integration platform as a service)
Enterprise integration platform as a service (EiPaaS) is designed with enterprise use cases in mind. This means they’re high-functioning, flexible, and have advanced integration capabilities, making them suited to handling various integration processes.
EiPaaS is most commonly used by midsize, large, and international organizations, such as SaaS applications (software as a service apps) and retail institutions.
DSiPaaS (domain-specific integration platform as a service)
Domain-specific integration platform as a service (DSiPaaS) solutions focus on verticals, processes, ecosystems, and regions. They’re high-productivity solutions that target specific use cases and niche markets, such as Big Data, B2B integration, data pipelines, IoT, and healthcare.
The benefits and challenges in deploying cloud integration solutions
With the growing need for hybrid integration, many companies are turning to cloud integration solutions to integrate their cloud and on-premises systems.
Before you choose a platform, it’s important to weigh the benefits of cloud integration against its potential challenges. So, let’s look at the main advantages and challenges of cloud integration software.
The main advantages
Cloud integration offers several advantages over traditional data integration methods. Benefits include:
Updated and synchronized data
To make good decisions, you need data that’s up-to-date and consistent throughout the organization. But different data sources have varying protocols and business processes. This can make it challenging to synchronize data between cloud-based and on-premises applications.
Cloud integration solves this with automation and real-time synchronization. This eliminates data silos and ensures you’ll have access to the latest data in all your apps, helping to avoid compliance issues and costly mistakes.
An effective cloud integration solution should offer workflow automation to remove manual tasks and integrate online services like Salesforce with your existing systems.
For instance, OpenLegacy fast-tracks API creation with automatic code generation, meaning you can rapidly generate digital services from your on-premise systems一saving time and effort.
iPaaS solutions automate the data management process, from data entry to analytics. This reduces the risk of human error, so you’ll always be working with accurate data. Plus, by automating these repetitive tasks, employees can focus on more important things.
Removal of duplicate data
As a business grows, you can end up with copies of the same data sets in different systems and applications. In effect, each department becomes a silo that enters and modifies its own data. This leads to inefficiency, inaccuracy, and lost productivity.
Duplicate data can also harm revenue if a vendor receives the wrong invoice or you send a customer the same marketing content over and over (leading them to take their business elsewhere).
Cloud integration eliminates the problem of duplicate data as all data is updated and synced automatically. Ergo, your departments will all be working with the same up-to-date data.
Scalable and flexible
Cloud-based integration gives organizations the scalability and flexibility they need for sustainable growth. It’s easy to add or remove solutions and services, and you don’t have to pay for expensive hardware and labor.
For example, OpenLegacy’s hybrid cloud integration uses a microservices-based architecture that’s easy to scale with minimal disruption. It’s also highly customizable and flexible, so you can configure it to suit your current and future business needs.
Cloud-based integration platforms also improve visibility throughout the organization. Since the platform acts as a single source of truth, employees can see exactly what, when, and why something is happening. For instance, they can:
- Pinpoint issues like bugs or data loss
- Quickly solve customer issues and improve customer experience
- Promptly respond to clients or prospects
- Track performance in real-time
- Spot problems that were previously overlooked
- Generate novel insights and solutions
A good cloud platform should have easy-to-read graphics and dashboards so you can see what’s happening in real-time一helping you make the best decisions for your business.
Better cost management
One of the major benefits of cloud integration is its cost-efficiency. Cloud integration is far cheaper to deploy than in-house integration solutions. You don’t need to hire anyone to build it, and you don’t have to pay for hardware or middleware.
For instance, OpenLegacy’s patented technology connects directly to your on-premises systems一so no need for complex ESB/SOA middleware.
With cloud integration, your only cost is the pricing plan. Just make sure to compare providers so you get the features you need in the most cost-effective way.
The main challenges
For all its benefits, cloud integration can present challenges. These vary depending on your business and the type of solution you're looking at. Common issues include:
Cloud data integration only works if you can transfer data quickly and efficiently. If you don’t have a fast and reliable internet connection, it may not be workable. Also, apps often have different access requirements and data protocols, and some tools are better at coping with this than others.
Before you choose a cloud data integration platform, make sure your internet connection can support it and that it can cope with a variety of data services and APIs.
No standard process
Another factor to consider when moving to cloud-native solutions is there’s no standard integration process. Each cloud service has different formats and schemas for data and APIs. Some cloud applications use XML, while others use JSON. Likewise, certain apps use SOAP-based APIs for security and others use OAuth2.
The solution? You need a cloud platform integration tool that offers multi-cloud interoperability, like OpenLegacy. OpenLegacy also stays up-to-date with the latest connectors and open-source solutions. That means you always have the tools needed to connect disparate services.
Complex ETL workflows
73% of organizations use traditional ETL (extract-transform-load) for cloud systems integration. ETL solutions extract data from different sources, transform them into a cohesive format, and load them onto a single platform.
The problem with ETL is it’s often a source of latency and complexity, especially if your business works with large volumes of data. If you choose an ETL solution, make sure it won’t slow down your systems. Alternatively, use an iPaaS platform that can run, automate, and enhance ETL workflows.
Must-have features when choosing a cloud integration application
When it comes to choosing a cloud integration solution, first think about the type of integration you need一for instance, cloud-to-cloud or cloud-to-on-premises (and what kind of on-premises). Then, think about what features you require.
Not every business needs all the cloud integration features available, but there are a few must-haves you should look for, including:
Application and data integration
Data silos are a common problem, so you need an integration platform that seamlessly integrates apps and data across departments. A good cloud application integration solution will keep all your apps up-to-date with the same data. This eliminates duplicate data and streamlines employee performance.
For instance, you can integrate your CRM and customer support apps so your employees always have the latest customer data to hand. Customers don’t have to repeat information, and your team can easily view support tickets or past interactions. That way, they can address customer issues quickly and effectively.
Legacy systems connectivity
An often-overlooked feature of cloud integration is legacy systems connectivity. Some solutions use middleware to integrate legacy systems with the cloud, but this adds an extra layer of high complexity.
The best cloud integration platforms use pre-built connectors and adaptors to connect directly to legacy systems. For example, OpenLegacy offers direct-to-legacy connections that bypass complex middleware and boost API performance by at least five times.
You can configure your applications in only a couple of hours一just drag and drop the connectors to create the integration. If there’s no pre-built connector, you can build your own with no coding.
API integration and management
The most effective cloud solutions double up as API integration platforms. After all, APIs are widely used in cloud computing to integrate data, apps, and systems.
You need an integration platform that lets you create, optimize, and manage APIs across on-premise and cloud environments. For example, with OpenLegacy, you can govern large sets of enterprise APIs throughout their lifecycle. That way, you have all the benefits of cloud integration with the added functionality of APIs.
You can manage your internal and third-party APIs from the same platform. Plus, you can connect to any app or access data at any time. Everyone can see the latest analytics and insights一with no coding needed.
Seamless data transfer
Organizations say getting data from mainframe or legacy applications is their biggest challenge. In fact, 55% rate it as either “very” or “somewhat” difficult. That's a big problem given businesses need to regularly access, share, and transfer data.
For example, you might transfer transactions to a payroll provider or share marketing materials with a client.
iPaaS can handle these high-volume data transfers quickly and effectively (as long as you have a sufficiently good internet connection). This makes cloud integration ideal for managing and processing data, even at scale.
You need a platform with an architecture that suits your business. For instance, OpenLegacy uses a cloud microservices-based architecture ideal for software development. A microservice architecture is modular, meaning it’s flexible and highly scalable.
With a microservice architecture, you can swiftly adapt to changing market needs and build new products and services for a fraction of the time and cost. You can also deliver a unified experience across channels, devices, and locations.
Hybrid integration tools can integrate different file types to create a seamless experience. They can also retrieve, store, and transfer data between different databases and applications. This makes hybrid integration a must-have.
Many cloud integration tools also work with hybrid integration platforms (HIPs). Using hybrid integration lets businesses access their on-premises data and systems from the cloud. This allows you to modernize your legacy systems without having to completely overhaul them.
If you’re handling large amounts of data, you need strong security. After all, you don’t want hackers to access your sensitive business data.
Common security features for cloud integration include role-based access, support for enterprise authentication tools like OAuth2, and real-time access alerts. You also need specific API security features, as these are a common source of vulnerability.
With a provider like OpenLegacy, you’ll have robust security for controlling API access, data visibility, and user identity, so both your data and APIs are safe.
Maximizing cloud data integration with OpenLegacy
Cloud integration platforms like OpenLegacy streamline and automate the data and business logic integration process. As such, they synchronize data and apps, boost efficiency, and foster collaboration.
OpenLegacy uses patented API integration technology to bring the speed, simplicity, and standardization of the cloud to enterprises with on-premises systems. That means no time-consuming or costly overhauls of legacy infrastructure.
As a result, it’s easy for businesses to modernize their systems, empower their teams, and accelerate time-to-market. Plus, thanks to OpenLegacy's modular architecture, it’s simple to scale and customize, with no-code up to full-code development options.
OpenLegacy also integrates seamlessly with iPaaS platforms like Boomi, Workato, and Talend, enhancing your experience by providing superior access to on-premise data and systems.
Whether you want to modernize your legacy systems or integrate hybrid environments, you can do it with OpenLegacy一and future-proof your business.
FAQs about cloud integration
What is cloud integration?
It’s a system of tools that connect cloud and on-premises environments. Cloud integrations may be cloud-to-cloud or cloud-to-on-premises, but both involve integrating a business’s data and logic (such as that in COBOL applications) into a single user-friendly interface.
Cloud integration uses automation to synchronize data and applications continuously in real time. The goal is to create a seamless infrastructure you can access from any device and at any time over your network or internet connection.
What are the benefits of cloud integration?
With cloud integration, everyone can access the same data, meaning no more data silos or costly errors. Plus, since cloud integration synchronizes data and apps in real time, you’ll always have access to the latest data, helping you make better business decisions.
Cloud application integration and automation can improve efficiency and visibility in your organization. It's also flexible and highly scalable, which means it can grow as your business does.
What are the main requirements for cloud integration?
The first thing to consider is whether your network and server speeds are enough to support cloud integration. Since it happens in real time, it needs a fast and reliable connection. It also has large data requirements, so you need to ensure your systems can handle it.
Other factors to consider include your business’s size and complexity. For instance, how many applications, systems, and APIs do you need to integrate? What kind of applications and systems? If you’re thinking about cloud integration, there are a few questions you should ask:
- What are your current and future business needs?
- How much money do you have to perform system upgrades or pay a monthly subscription?
- How will your staffing needs change? (For example, you may not need as many IT specialists as before.)
- How quickly can you move toward full system integration?