Businesses and organizations of all types are embracing cloud integration because of its ability to transform data into business intelligence. Cloud integration enables us to connect data stored on local servers with data stored remotely, but it also provides a path to powerful data analytics platforms, CRM systems, and other applications hosted by third-party providers. These include data warehouses such as Google BigQuery, Snowflake, Salesforce, AWS, and Microsoft Azure.
In this article, we'll stake out the most important information related to cloud integration and provide some resources for anyone considering a cloud, hybrid cloud, or multi-cloud integration strategy.
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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.
Business and the cloud
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 auto-scaling, 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 auto-scaling 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.
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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.
Security and data privacy
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. Cloud providers know that their reputations and businesses are at stake, and they are continually evolving their data security measures to outpace emerging threats.
Legislation aimed at protecting users' data is nothing new, but the past few years have seen an increase in the number of laws and policies requiring compliance. These include GDPR, the California Consumer Privacy Act, and HIPAA. 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.
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.
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.
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What about 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.
Get ready to go cloud
If you're ready to see what's possible with the cloud, a data integration platform can make the transition seamless, fast, and efficient. Talend Data Integration Platform provides a complete, easy-to-use set of tools to get your data to its destination without the painstaking process of hand-coding.
Download a free trial and get your cloud integration strategy off the ground today.