The biggest risk businesses face when migrating to cloud computing, is disruption of process. No matter how businesses attempt to improve their technology, processes must continue uninterrupted. It has always been so. The cloud doesn’t change this. The age old question is still the most important question: How do we get from here to there, while continuing to execute vital business functions?
Invoices need to go out. Customers need to place orders. Shipping needs to ship. Claims need to be processed. Financial reports need to be delivered. If business needs to change tires in the middle of the race, it must do so while the car is moving!
Cloud Integration Takes Time
Smaller businesses may have an easier time migrating functions to the cloud, but even many small businesses have spent considerable time and effort in integrating their systems and data.
After spending many years helping businesses of all sizes integrate systems, I finally came to the conclusion: Systems integration takes time, and lots of it! We have made great strides in the way we go about integration. We have deployed new technologies and standardization to integration methods, and those methods have matured and have proven themselves.
Middleware has helped us to marry disparate systems. ODBC helps us to connect different databases within a single application. XML and Web Services help us connect applications. SOA, with workflow orchestration and messaging, helps us connect processes and systems. These are tried and true methods of integration, and many businesses have successfully utilized them to improve their systems and processes. What these businesses all have in common, is the investment in time that was required to get to where they are today.
I have no doubt the cloud will eventually offer any business many advantages. Scale and operational discipline will substantially lower the costs of data processing. The ability to ramp up processing power and prototype quickly will provide many businesses with a degree of agility, otherwise impossible to obtain. However, businesses cannot make a pit stop; they must refuel in the air, while on their way to their cloud destinations.
The cloud adds degrees of complexity if the integration must marry on-premise and cloud applications and data, especially if workflows are defined between systems. However, new tools and technologies are emerging that can help.
Information and Resources for Cloud Integration
Jitterbit - On-Premise and Cloud Integration Made Easy
Dell Boomi - The #1 Integration Cloud
Snap Logic - Enterprise Cloud Integration
Tier 3 - The 4 Cloud Integration Dimensions
IBM - WebSphere Cast Iron Cloud integration
Oracle - Cloud Integration – A Comprehensive Solution (PDF)