The Cloud is Here – but is your Integration Strategy Ready?

Cloud IntegrationHybrid IT is here to stay – from Infrastructure and Platforms (AWS/Azure/Google) to SaaS (Software as a Service) and from Mobile to Social – companies are now heavily dependent upon data sources that sit outside of the traditional firewall. The move to the cloud is happening fast – perhaps faster than anyone could have predicted, but for most companies, they are still heavily dependent upon existing on-premise infrastructure for many core processes and applications.

Alongside this major architecture change is the changing user profile. The population of users interrogating corporate data is growing at an astronomical rate. Those new users (estimated to be 325m worldwide) are not all IT experts – but they need to connect to various company data sources with urgency and in a self-service manner.

This changing IT landscape and user base has a direct impact upon one significant area of enterprise IT – that of the data integration platform. Traditional on-premise-focused ETL and ESB platforms (and the experts that run them) sit at the foundation of so many IT landscapes – yet they are simply not geared to this new world. Not only do they invariably struggle to connect outside of the datacentre, they invariably reside on significantly specified, internally hosted hardware and are controlled by teams of IT integration specialists. This landscape is at odds with Gartner’s view which anticipates that by 2022, every IT user will be an integration user.

Transitioning to an iPaaS through parallel running

To handle the changing requirements, we’re seeing some organisations make wholesale changes by replacing on-premise integration technology with cloud (or iPaaS) integration technology. However, for many large organisations and those with significant existing infrastructure, this may not be quite so easy. Enterprise Architects and IT Directors are looking at how they can maintain the existing ESB/ETL architecture whilst also planning for a future where new data types are likely to be largely in the cloud. How are they doing this? They are running the two environments in parallel – keeping the on-premise integration platform (while it is needed) but also deploying a scalable and highly-available cloud integration infrastructure alongside it.

By deploying a cloud integration platform (also known as an iPaaS) alongside the existing on-premise integration technology, organisations can reap the benefits by:

  • Acting quickly to deploy new cloud applications in a timescale acceptable to the business.
  • Funding the initial cloud integration platform through a cloud-driven business requirement.
  • Starting to skill-up new users and cross-skill on-premise integration experts in the new cloud integration technology.
  • Beginning the transfer of jobs from the on-premise platform to the cloud (where appropriate) to begin the transition to a cloud architecture.
  • Proving the value of the cloud integration tool whilst sweating the asset of the ESB/ETL.

Getting started with a cloud integration platform

Setting up a cloud integration/iPaaS platform alongside your existing on-premise ESB or ETL environment could not be easier. It’s quick to deploy, simple to get started and commercially manageable and scalable. Indeed, Informatica’s Cloud platform is even available for free under an initial 30-day trial to enable organisations to get started on the journey.

Informatica Cloud’s infrastructure (the Gartner Magic Quadrant ‘leader’ and most deployed iPaaS in 2017) is built by deploying a Secure Agent environment. The Secure Agent is a lightweight application that (usually) sits within your firewall and is responsible for connecting to your back-office systems. For some customers, this may mean that it is deployed within the on-site datacentre, but often, it is also hosted in a cloud environment such as Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure or Google.

Informatica’s most popular iPaaS package comes with five end-point connectors – meaning that out of the box, any deployment can be up and running and connected to key cloud data sources (like Salesforce, Workday, AWS, Azure) and on-premise platforms (ERP, databases, files etc) in double quick time. This is usually sufficient to meet the ‘initial need’ for a cloud tool – which there tends to be in almost all cases. It also means that the implementation team can get hands-on with the tool extremely quickly and start to make real-world progress in days rather than months.

Experience of thousands of such deployments show us that once the platform is installed, the benefits become quickly apparent and lead to the following:

  • A rapid scale-up of the integration user community – members from the IT department and various data-facing line of business staff quickly start to use the new tool.
  • The iPaaS platform becomes the first choice, go-to platform for new integration jobs.
  • Customers start to look at which jobs can be taken off the ESB and moved onto the iPaaS and a steady transition starts to take place from on-premise to cloud integration environment.
  • The traditional bottle-neck of jobs requiring IT integration experts starts to flow more freely as IT are called upon to oversee and build compliance across the platform rather than creating and managing jobs.

As the balance of your company’s architecture increasingly transitions to the cloud, there has never been a more pressing time to get ahead of the integration conundrum by deploying an iPaaS alongside your existing ESB/ETL architecture.