Common integration issues #2: flying off into the sunset...err... clouds
In this blog, we reflect on integrations 'on the way' to the cloud - a journey a lot of organisations find themselves on. We find that a strategy in relation to a move to the cloud can be lacking, with unpleasant surprises as a consequence. This can apply broadly, in terms of the holistic cloud strategy, but more often we experience it regarding integrations. We share our best practices and lessons learned.Scroll to next section
The journey into the cloud
Often when we start something new, we say “Start with the end in mind.” However what we preach, we don't always practice.
We find that a strategy in relation to a move to the cloud can be lacking, with unpleasant surprises as a consequence. This can apply broadly, in terms of the holistic cloud strategy, but more often we experience it regarding integrations.
Why is this the case?
We find that computing, storing and developing applications in the cloud, vastly differs from traditional on-premise environments. You may find this statement shockingly obvious. In that case, you’d be surprised by how many organisations just “start somewhere” and move certain aspects of their IT environment to the cloud, “as is”.
The broadly accepted belief that cloud is a cheaper way for computing and storage is well-known, and although this can definitely be the case, if there is no solid translation to best use of cloud, it’s not. There is a lot of knowledge lacking about what drives cost in the cloud, and how to get the most out of it.
The benefits of:
- And lots of modern applications and options for modern tools/ IT architecture
That are only available in the cloud, should not be missed! And integrations can definitely help with that. Failing to incorporate an integrations strategy on the other hand, is therefore a common integration issue we see in our day-to-day work.
Because a lot of cloud journeys try to replicate the on premise environment in the cloud, and trust stakeholders will speak up along the way regarding any issues, there is often not a lot of thought put into how integrations can facilitate the process and generate some of those much desired savings.
Where really, if you are re-architecting your IT infrastructure (and beyond) to suit a cloud environment, there is no better time to plan for integrations saving money, time and frustration. The cloud and cloud ready/native applications are game changers for integration technology and missing that opportunity is a big loss for anyone involved. Adopting the philosophy of “walking before running” the journey to the cloud is broken into steps and integrations come in sight somewhere near the end destination.
So, what should you do?
With a transition from an on-premise environment for integration to cloud integration services, the first question you should ask yourself is how to manage your risks appropriately. Where do you want to be vulnerable?
Integration software / platforms are commonly offered as middleware, therefore have the potential to create a much larger attack surface as well as data privacy and sovereignty issues.
In addition, you need to consider what the cloud ready / native equivalents are for your IT stack and specific circumstances. Maybe some applications don't have one. In that case, maybe you need to plan for IT changes as well. IT changes can have knock-on effects and therefore, the end picture of what your IT environment looks like in the cloud might vastly differ from your current IT environment!
If the organisation feels like a holistic strategy for the journey to the cloud is too much to manage, starting with a pivotal point in your IT environment, for example, moving your active directory or moving your email client to the cloud is a great move.
Pausing and reflecting on subsequent baby steps to build up your cloud landscape around those key / pivotal applications means the world is your oyster, and step-by-step the organisation will see how much you can do compared to what you were able to do before.
Tips for setting up integrations in the cloud
Once you are ready, big bang or baby step-wise, these are our tips for setting up integrations in the cloud. Or for how to think about them, when you are formulating your cloud strategy:
- More so than on-premise, you want to think about application security in general and integration security in particular. In the cloud, there is much less of a physical ability to control the perimeter. There are also different cyber security risks compared to an on-premise environment.
- You should apply the least privilege principle to your APIs and integration technology just like you do to any other user or group. You need to limit the integrations’ permissions to the minimum they need to function properly.
- Depending on whether your organisation follows a ‘best of breed’ or a ‘best of suite’ school of thought, you may have a lot of integrations available out of the box. Even if you were a ‘best of suite' company on-premise, it is worth exploring what extra integration options you will get by cloud ready / native versions of your applications.
- Conversely, the development of standardisation in API (Application Programming Interface) technology is now also enabling equally great integration technology for ‘best of breed’ companies. You will just need something like the Harmonizer Worry Free service, to make your applications talk and do your transformations / automations in the middle.
- For what it’s worth, we do see a trend towards using ‘best of breed’ applications. Because integration technology in the cloud supports any integration now, this major impediment that existed in previous on-premise environments is no longer there. There is also less of a lock-in to existing technology on the ‘monthly subscription’ based model. This means companies can leverage whichever application is best for their business, and they are no longer bound by a single vendor or stack over time as such. As a metaphor, the ‘locks’ on and around applications have been removed by going to the cloud.
The cloud offers many more options and opportunities for integrations, saving organisations time and money. Incredible technology is available nowadays at very modest pricing, to the point that its functionality and affordability was unimaginable 15 to 20 years ago.
However, to harness this, you need to plan ahead, or take very sensible baby steps - not any order of events and approach will work, and yield the result the organisation hopes for. Going to the cloud literally ‘as-is’, will likely result in a cost increase and no added functionality or any benefits. That is a real missed opportunity.
It therefore boils down to thinking (a lot) before you start, and don’t be shy about enlisting help from your (external) IT advisors. This is not us, or a marketing ploy. This is heartfelt advice; and if you need a recommendation, we have plenty of great Cloud Consultants in our network that we would be happy to introduce you to!
The bottom line is: With quality integrations, your journey to the cloud can be a true 1+1 = 3 situation, in terms of time, money, and value!
Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash