In a recent Sand Hill article, Jeff Kaplan, the managing director of THINKstrategies, reports on the recent and changing state of data integration with the addition of cloud computing. “One of the ongoing challenges that continues to frustrate businesses of all sizes is data integration, and that issue has only become more complicated with the advent of the cloud. And, in the brave new world of the cloud, data integration must morph into a broader set of data management capabilities to satisfy the escalating needs of today’s business.”
In the article, Jeff reviews a recent survey conducted with several software vendors, concluding:
- Approximately 90 percent of survey respondents said integration is important in their ability to win new customers.
- Eighty-four percent of the survey respondents reported that integration has become a difficult task that is getting in the way of business.
- A quarter of the respondents said they’ve still lost customers because of integration issues.
It’s interesting to note that these issues affect legacy software vendors, as well as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) vendors. No matter if you sell software in the cloud or deliver it on-demand, the data integration issues are becoming a hindrance.
I see much the same thing as I design and build cloud-based systems. These are problems that are both easy to spot, and easy to solve. It’s perplexing to me why few are taking steps to solve them.
At issue is the diversity of data sources and applications that add a new layer of complexity to the integration task. IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS clouds typically leverage uncommon APIs for accessing data, and each cloud has its own approach to data storage and data access.
The data integration vendors become an important component in abstracting these complexities for those doing data integration that includes one or more cloud-based platforms. The technology available today is head and shoulders above the technology available just a few years ago, when public cloud-based platforms began to emerge.
“As a result, the leading data integration players are redefining their functional responsibilities and repositioning their value propositions. Data integration is becoming a part of a lifecycle of data management capabilities, ranging from data warehousing, archiving and replication to data mapping, orchestration and governance.”
However, providing these capabilities does not mean that the market will adopt them. Most enterprises have a long way to go in developing data integration capabilities, including the implementation of technology.
The cloud does a few things for us here. First, the use of cloud-based platforms shines a new light on the problem of data integration. Almost 100 percent of the time, data integration issues come along with cloud migrations or new development. Second, the use of cloud-based platforms brings with it a new set of value propositions and a much better business case for the use of the cloud, as well as the data integration technology that’s required to make the cloud work for an enterprise.
The trick is to learn about your own data integration requirements, and the technology that has the ability to solve these problems. As cloud computing continues to emerge these are no longer problems you can avoid.