Cloud Integration 101: From iPaaS, to SaaS, to Security

Cloud integration enables your local data to work seamlessly with your information and applications in the cloud.

As cloud technologies move into the mainstream at an unprecedented rate, organizations are augmenting existing, on-premise data centers with cloud technologies and solutions—or even replacing on-premise data storage and applications altogether. But in almost any modern environment, data will be gathered from multiple sources at a variety of physical locations (public cloud, private cloud, or on-premise).

The practice of cloud integration has been well-mapped, and a wide variety of tools and services exist to help with it. At the individual organization level, companies have to then make critical decisions on how to use the data they have. Let’s take a look at both.

The Advantages of Cloud Integration

Traditional business development produced data silos, which compartmentalized specialized knowledge with the specialists who used it. Departments like warehousing, sales, marketing, finance, and others depended on separate silos to do daily business.

But with the advent of business intelligence, organizations learned to mine, discover, and share data across departments to improve overall performance. Cloud integration bolsters business intelligence by blending local data with important information from cloud applications, including, but not limited to:

  • Network traffic patterns
  • User behavior
  • Security events, both external and in your environment
  • Compliance information
  • Errors and anomalies impacting performance data
  • Resource usage

With cloud integration, organizations gain a holistic view of all the important—and often highly complex—interactions within their business environment and can use insights from this process to create and maintain a competitive edge in their market.

Cloud Integration in Modern Business and IT

Beyond basic goals of business intelligence and staying up-to-date with increasingly complex compliance regulations, today’s leading industries use cloud integration to achieve breakthroughs in areas like:

  • Lowered expenses - By diving deeply into data from individual sources, then comparing it with information, it’s possible to reveal where resources may be over- (or under-) committed and prepare a cloud integration approach that fits business needs.
  • Maximized human capital - Not even a crack team of IT pros could possibly ingest and interpret the amount of data flowing through an entire organization. With the right integration tools and design, proper task automation, and comprehensive reporting options, people are more empowered than ever to make business-impacting decisions.
  • Autoscaling - Another potential cost-saving benefit of cloud integration comes in the form of autoscaling, which allows your environment to respond intelligently, adding resources during peak times and shutting them down for slower periods. As more organizations move part, or all, of their operations to virtual platforms hosted in the cloud, the autoscaling decisions unearthed in cloud integration can become critical business intelligence.
  • Faster delivery - Maybe literally, if your industry involves shipping goods. But even digital delivery is expedited with cloud integration that instantly exchanges data and helps you make decisions that will deliver to market

That last consideration is especially important as industry leaders and cutting edge companies push forward with approaches like continuous delivery and DevOps. A prime tenet of these philosophies surrounds the use of automation to produce ever-decreasing delivery cycles. This inevitably involves new thinking about the definition of modern cloud integration.

Defining the Future of Cloud Integration

The optimist looks a decade or two to the future and sees the potential to channel automation toward new possibilities, like instant release cycles and maybe even applications that can overcome performance and support challenges in an ever-scaling environment by designing its own helper applications.

A realist understands the potential pitfalls of such a world. Who will outline the automation that guides such development? What role will humans play in such a continuous cloud integration cycle, and how will we keep the reigns in such a fast paced data race? Bleeding-edge tech juggernauts will have to balance these and other questions during the next generations of technical advances.

What’s not in question is that data integration will play a pivotal role in the evolution of cloud integration. Within a cloud environment, data integration lives at the intersection of big data, advanced analytics, business intelligence, and data governance.

Cloud Integration Challenges

Unfortunately all the benefits and advantages of seamless cloud integration don’t come as easily as flipping a switch. Even experienced, well-staffed organizations can struggle to build the model that’s right for them. Below are some key challenges to address during the journey.

  1. Security - Rarely does a news cycle go by without word of some new and significant breach in security. Major companies, financial institutions, and even political institutions all face severe risks from an ever-growing list of online threats—including digital information theft, ransoming, and destruction. Without proper security, an organization is at risk of even worse things than bad business intelligence.
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  2. Compliance - In large part because of the above, groups like the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council have evolved. An international alliance of experts from across industries and disciplines, PCISSC, and groups like them, have developed a list of globally accepted security standards—many of which make up the background for existing national and international eCommerce laws.

    Additionally, the GDPR sets specific data protection standards for members of the EU.

    Staying compliant with these laws requires not just adherence to all adopted standards, but periodic proof of it in the form of audits and reporting. After making sure a cloud integration model is secure, keeping it compliant must be a core consideration.
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  3. Expanding data - An inescapable truth of the modern age is that data is everywhere, and data breeds data. As we shop, tweet, create and store, the electronic trails we leave—and the new trails they open in your cloud integration—creates a mind-boggling amount of information.

    A proper automation approach is key to making sure an organization has the room it needs, but doesn’t pay for any resources or storage not needed at a given time. Though it’s easy to err on the the traditional side of ‘more space is better,’ the cost of maintaining acres of idle storage can quickly bloat ownership costs without proper management.
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  4. Human know-how - In an environment changing this rapidly, finding capable, proven, trustworthy professionals is a fundamental challenge. The choice between investing in existing employees and outsourcing some or all cloud integration design and operation depends on individual size and needs.
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  5. The right tools - Every job’s easier with the right tools, but with an internet full of overlapping and confusing information about the right way to manage cloud integration, selecting the right tools can be as intimidating as the task itself. Many businesses are turning to battle-tested partners to help assist with cloud integration on a budget. 

If you’re reading through that list of challenges and find yourself wondering where to even begin with cloud integration, you may be among a growing number of decision makers who begin their focus on #5, and deploying the right tools and partnerships.

More and more organizations are maximizing their budget and brain power by opting for integration-platform-as-a-service (iPaas) solutions.

What is iPaaS?

Integration platform as a service (iPaaS) is a straightforward solution for hosting, developing, and integrating cloud data and applications. The best iPaaS solutions include easy, graphic tools to help visualize and work with your overall business intelligence picture.

Many small to mid-sized organizations simply don’t have the infrastructure, security environment, compliance awareness, and other expertise necessary to build a holistic cloud integration architecture. iPaaS can bridge gaps and open the way to all the benefits with little or none of the assumed risks.

An iPaaS solution can solve cloud integration challenges by providing both the platform and tools for hosting and managing:

  • Virtual infrastructure - Spin up, deploy, and manage virtual machines, servers, network devices and more to build and tune your environment.
  • Data warehousing and integration - Create, mine, and move data throughout your enterprise for real-time business intelligence.
  • Application development and continuous delivery - Development teams can collaborate with the cloud in a hybrid environment or develop and deploy entirely on iPaaS tools.
  • Security and compliance - The right iPaaS partner offers critical business security like fraud detection and proactive network, as well as complying with all applicable industry regulations. Performing mandatory audits and visualizing threats on iPaaS-provided interfaces are big parts of a service approach to cloud integration.

As with most business decisions, the choice about iPaaS is usually measured with budgets first in mind. Any solution that outsources the heavy lifting and simplifies integration will come with a price, so the secret is knowing what to shop for and how pricing structures work.

The right partner will deliver all of the above and more, resulting immediately in better business intelligence and cost savings that can be substantial. That’s where Talend comes in.

Getting Started with Cloud Integration

Whether your organization is currently operating in a hybrid environment or you’re looking to move entirely to the cloud, Talend’s service-oriented architecture empowers partial, hybrid, or complete cloud integration platform solutions.

Check out Talend’s available resources and download and test our free integration solutions today to get started on your journey to better, more affordable cloud integration.

| Last Updated: April 23rd, 2018