The Synergies of SaaS and Data Integration
Loraine Lawson provides some great insights into the world of data integration, and this article is no exception. The topic struck me due to the fact that we’ve wrestled with SaaS integration issues for about 10 years now.
Back in 2004, we saw the rapid growth of SaaS providers such as Salesforce.com. However, there was typically no consistent data integration strategy to go along with the use of SaaS. In many instances, SaaS-delivered applications became the new data silos in the enterprise, silos that lacked a sound integration plan and integration technology.
10 years later, we’ve gotten to a point where we have the ability to solve problems using SaaS and data integration problems around the use of SaaS. However, we typically lack the knowledge and understanding of how to effectively use data integration technology within an enterprise to integrate SaaS problem domains.
Lawson looks at both sides of the SaaS integration argument. “Surveys certainly show that integration is less of a concern for SaaS than in the early days, when nearly 88 percent of SaaS companies said integration concerns would slow down adoption and more than 88 percent said it’s an important or extremely important factor in winning new customers.”
Again, while we’ve certainly gotten better at integration, we’re nowhere near being out of the woods. “A Dimensional Research survey of 350 IT executives showed that 67 percent cited data integration problems as a challenge with SaaS business applications. And as with traditional systems, integration can add hidden costs to your project if you ignore it.”
As I’ve stated many times in this blog, integration requires a bit of planning and the use of solid technology. While this does require some extra effort and money, the return on the value of this work is huge.
SaaS integration requires that you take a bit of a different approach than traditional enterprise integration. SaaS systems typically place your data behind well-defined APIs that can be accessed directly or through a data integration technology. While the information can be consumed by anything that can invoke an API, enterprises still have to deal with structure and content differences, and that’s typically best handled using the right data integration technology.
Other things to consider, things that are again often overlooked, is the need for both data governance and data security around your SaaS integration solution. There should be a centralized control mechanism to support the proper management and security of the data, as well as a mechanism to deal with data quality issues that often emerge when consuming data from any cloud computing services.
The reality is that SaaS is here to stay. Even enterprise software players that put off the move to SaaS-delivered systems, are not standing up SaaS offerings. The economics around the use of SaaS are just way to compelling. However, as SaaS-delivered systems become more common place, so will the emergence of new silos. This will not be an issue, if you leverage the right SaaS integration approach and technology. What will your approach be?