People have begun to realize that integration is a key requirement for a successful SaaS application deployment. Since a SaaS application like Salesforce CRM resides in the cloud (it is hosted in a data center outside your company’s firewalls), customers need to move their critical corporate data like customer, product or pricing information into Salesforce before they can use the application and provide maximum value to their end users.
They also need to keep the data in Salesforce synchronized with the rest of their on premise applications in order to maintain operational efficiency and provide timely and accurate information flow throughout their enterprise.
So how difficult is it to integrate Salesforce with on premise applications, and how should it be done? Well, for starters, salesforce.com provides a complete set of well documented APIs that make it straight forward for a good software programmer to accomplish that task.
Those same APIs are also used by integration vendors to provide more flexible, powerful and manageable solutions that accomplish the same task without requiring the same level of programming skill.
For example, the Force.com AppExchange directory has more than 100 listings in the “Integration & Data Management” category where customers can find integration solutions for Salesforce CRM and the Force.com Platform.
Even though there’s a dizzying array of integration offerings on the AppExchange, they all fall into one of two buckets that I characterize as “inside out” or “outside in” integration. An inside out integration solution, also known as an on premise solution is one that is installed inside a company’s firewall on a server (or a vendor provided appliance) and maintained by IT.
Whereas an outside in integration solution, also known as an On Demand or Cloud based solution is installed in the cloud and maintained by the integration vendor. On premise solutions are a good fit for organizations where the Salesforce integration work will be implemented and managed by a skilled Systems Integrator or IT resource, whereas On Demand solutions are ideal for organizations with limited IT resources that will rely on their Salesforce Administrator or a line of business analyst to do that work.
Informatica has been focused on the salesforce.com market since 2005 and has the broadest portfolio of data integration offerings for Salesforce CRM and Force.com – Our on premise integration solution for Salesforce is deployed at many of salesforce.com’s largest customers around the world, and our On Demand Integration Service for Salesforce was designed from the ground up to address the needs of business users, and was recently voted “Best Data Integration tool of 2008″ by salesforce.com customers on AppExchange.
There are many considerations for selecting a particular Salesforce integration solution including price, ease of use, time to deployment, scalability, performance, number of end points, complexity of business rules, vendor expertise, vendor viability, references… but if you are considering an alternative to hand coding, you may want to start by deciding “inside out” or “outside in.”
What’s the right choice for you?