Cloud computing has become an everyday way of life for almost every business. According to research by Rightscale, 96% of companies use the cloud, with more than four out of five enterprises (81%) having a multi-cloud strategy.
However, with so much of modern business now dependent on these technologies, its vital that any cloud solutions enterprises deploy are able to fit seamlessly into the rest of the company.
This is where cloud integration comes in. This is defined as a set of tools, processes, and technologies that connect various systems and applications and allow data to be shared between cloud services in real time. It helps break down silos and ensure your cloud systems have access to all the data they need to work effectively.
However, it can be a challenge to implement such solutions effectively and with minimum disruption, so here are a few key pointers to help you ensure a seamless transition to cloud-based services.
1. Consider a third-party platform
Building a custom cloud integration platform from scratch may ensure you have everything you need, but it can be a hugely complex and costly option. Instead, turning to a third-party integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) can help you take control of the process in a more organized, cost-effective manner.
An iPaaS solution consists of a set of automated tools to connect applications that are deployed across different environments, both on-premise and in the cloud. This can let users develop, deploy and manage hybrid cloud environments more quickly and cheaply than would otherwise be possible.
However, when looking for such tools, there are many questions that will need to be considered. For instance, you need to understand how such solutions will support big data tools, what features are in place to allow multiple teams to work on the same project, and how you will ensure the quality of data used in the applications.
2. Choose the most appropriate tools
Many integration projects may be hampered from the very start because the cloud applications they are trying to connect aren't the best fit for the company's existing systems or way of working.
If businesses only choose a Software-as-a-Service offering based on the number of features it has, for example, and do not consider how the application will perform or align with the overall IT environment, they will be making their implementation ever harder than it has to be.
To avoid this, it's important that companies consider overall performance metrics and identify which functionality they actually need, rather than simply opting for the most feature-rich options that will add unnecessary complexity to the integration.
3. Make sure you can access your data in a single location
A key benefit of a cloud integration project will be to help break down the silos that can be created when multiple disparate clouds are being used within the same environment. However, it can only do this if it has access to a single, unified source of data for the entire business.
This can be harder to achieve than many firms realize, particularly if they haven’t taken care when selecting their cloud providers. Some solutions don't make it easy to extract data for use in other areas such as analytics, for example, by storing it in a different format to the rest of your business. Look for a provider that can guarantee their APIs will fit into your existing systems.
4. Ensure your connectivity can cope
It should go without saying that strong connectivity is a key foundation of any cloud network, but for many firms, this is an area that's easy to overlook, as they may not have complete visibility into their network in order to identify where any weak points or bottlenecks may lie.
Conduct a full audit of your network, focusing on any links between components or applications that cover two or more storage systems and those that cross on-premises and cloud systems. Do you have enough bandwidth to cope with any added traffic that the cloud will require? If you don't, it will be difficult to effectively run any real-time cloud integration with confidence.
5. Have clear governance agreements in place
When dealing with data across multiple departments and cloud providers, it's vital to have a clear understanding of who owns what information, and who is responsible for its safeguarding. Spelling this out at the start of an integration can help avoid any difficulties that may arise when data is being moved between different cloud platforms and your premises.
With regulators around the world cracking down on careless use of data, putting a clear plan in place for managing how information is transferred and stored during cloud integration helps the process proceed more quickly and ensures you are protected from any avoidable potential breaches.