Once perceived as a risky prospect, the cloud is now at the helm of every almost aspect of our business lives. So much so, that on top of the 77% of organizations currently using at least one cloud-based application, a significant number of enterprise companies in tech-dependent industries are facing intense pressure to move entirely to the cloud.
There’s a solid rationale for this transition too. With the cloud providing significant business opportunities, data convenience, visibility, and cost savings, enterprise organizations currently integrating with cloud applications or cloud computing have an edge on their competition. That means if you don’t have a cloud integration plan in place, you may be doing more than missing out — you’re losing out. In this article we will discuss cloud integration, its benefits, and how to create a successful cloud integration plan.
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Cloud Integration: understanding fundamentals
Before we dig deeper into the benefits and choices available, let’s take a look at what integration means. The process of integration was originally developed to help break down data silos—business data stuck in unshareable storage. Cloud integration, in particular, employs tools and technologies to connect previously unshareable storage, different cloud platforms, and cloud-based resources with on-premise systems. Additionally, cloud integration enables the sharing of applications, systems, and IT environments. With cloud integration in place, businesses can manage, clean, and integrate data and processes in real time and in a single environment.
For example, a business might use its customer data in billing and invoicing, as well as for warehousing and company decision-making. When these processes talk to each other seamlessly within the cloud, organizations experience increased employee productivity with less time spent on tasks like the manual re-entering of product information, expense approvals, or fulfillment. Further, when business tasks overlap, but don’t actually work together, key business opportunities and performance is lost.
When a business chooses to integrate data in the cloud, a process called data migration occurs. Data migration is a regular IT function that involves data between computers, storage devices, or formats. These types of data can include everything from storage, database, application, and business processes. Although standard data migration is often used for data maintenance, website consolidation, or equipment relocation or replacement, cloud migration means moving data and processes to a cloud-based environment — allowing for a more interactive use and real-time application of an organization’s data.
While there are different types of cloud integration software services, Integration platform as a service, iPaaS, is commonly used by businesses. Sometimes referred to as a “suite”, an iPaaS enables the connection of software applications with data and applications stored in cloud environments. This integration tool allows businesses to develop, execute, and govern data integration flows from a myriad of sources.
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Why cloud integration and why now?
Cloud computing is a necessity for today’s successful and growing businesses. However, if the data in the cloud isn’t accessible for use across departments, for decision-making, or with a company’s legacy systems, organizations stand to lose out on time and business opportunities. If that’s not reason enough, here are several reasons you need to incorporate a cloud integration platform into your business plans moving forward.
- Compliance and Security: From fraud detection and intruder alert and response to auditing and reporting screens, many cloud integration software address industry compliance specific to your business.
- Leveraging Data Sources: The ability to integrate existing and potential customer data, garnered from resources like social media, is crucial to business growth. By 2021, it’s estimated that 3.02 billion individuals worldwide will use social media, increasing the already large database of information businesses use for growth and accurate business planning.
- Machine Learning: Machine learning is a technology that uses recognition and computational learning to make predictions based on patterns in the data. The cloud makes machine learning more affordable and accessible by reducing the initial investment in hardware, lowering cost of storage, and providing enterprise access.
- IoT: Connecting our devices to the internet for performing tasks is referred to as the Internet of Things, or IoT. The cloud allows tasks, such as making purchases or collaborating on a project at work, to be completed fully on the internet without memory and space constraints.
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Achieving cloud integration with the right solutions
By leveraging the growing number of cloud-based systems, and integrating cloud-based applications, organizations can streamline operations, reduce their costs, and significantly improve the customer experience.
Cloud integration allows a business to share data and applications seamlessly within the cloud. The ability to function without space, time, and speed constraints helps to optimize business functions and, ultimately, makes a business more competitive in the fast-moving market. By sharing data between multiple sources and locations, information becomes accessible.
Departments like billing, sales, warehousing, finance, and marketing can work together easily and improve performance. Orders can be entered, inventory checked, billing notified and sent, as one process. Further, previous customers can also be linked to marketing for new or complementary products or services automatically as well. The opportunities are endless and easily accessible once all your business processes are connected through the cloud.
However, these benefits may be missed without the appropriate software solution. When choosing a cloud integration solution, key functions like connecting your virtual machines, servers, and network devices are crucial to the outcome. Data management, cleaning, system updates, and creating real-time business intelligence will help you improve the bottom line of your business.
In order to find the right cloud integration solution for your business, consider the following requirements:
- It must connect data and applications in real-time.
- It must access, cleanse, transform, and share data.
- It must manage and distribute from all data storage options no matter the size or speed.
- It must facilitate time-to-market and business development opportunities.
These capabilities are simply the minimum functionality. In order to determine which other capabilities you might need, explore your business requirements and goals to identify a cloud integration solution that can assist in achieving them.
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Create a cloud integration plan
The cloud host you ultimately choose will certainly take you through the specific steps to prepare for your cloud transition, but here are few ways to get ready.
- IT Team Training: Whether you have a dedicated tech team or just one person, staff require training. The department will need to continue to focus on specific business needs like in-house servers and networks, as well as cloud-specific information.
- Data Management: While data storage needs will drift from the forefront, the IT team will need to focus on access and management, especially with older systems during the integration.
- Security: The cloud host will inevitably be responsible for security and compliance but it’s a good time to review the needs of your particular industry and company. At the end of the day, anything that falls under a secure and compliant environment affects you and your business.
- Automation: Training your IT staff in systems automation is crucial to getting the most out of your cloud integration software. New workflow processes or changes to existing structures will be implemented more quickly and increased accessibility makes it easier for employees to get up to speed. Further, cloud integration means that workflow solutions can typically avoid the cost and time of IT team involvement.
After reviewing the benefits of cloud integration it’s difficult to look the other way. Productivity, security, marketing resources, speed to market, and impeccable data management are just some of the benefits your company will reap.
The next step? Choosing a cloud integration platform that meets your specific needs with a team that can get your business floating on the cloud quickly and cost effectively. Begin your journey by downloading a free trial of Talend Cloud.