Cloud integration and governance

During the Gartner Application Architecture, Development & Integration Summit 2013 in London, Massimo Pezzini (VP & Gartner Fellow) talked about the importance of integration strategy and governance in cloud and hybrid integration scenarios. He strongly advised that the integration of cloud services should be addressed just like traditional on-premises integration, using the same rigor and discipline.

With the advent of cloud computing and particularly SaaS solutions, the need to integrate has not diminished, in fact it has increased. Since SaaS by definition means that it is a one-size-fits-all solution, it is necessary to create added value to the organization through smart integration. SaaS solutions such as the products from Salesforce and Microsoft are also equiped with the necessary hooks to exchange information with other systems and services. These integation points are often based on standard Web Services or REST.

Also with the rise of apps for tablets and smartphones, the need for highly scalable cloud integration services is great. An app on a smartphone which is used for example to select and order your take-out dinner and have it delivered at home will not directly connect to the back-end system of the respective food delivery service or restaurant. First of all, this is not desirable from a safety viewpoint, but especially if it is a popular service or a “broker” that serves several restaurants it will be necessary to run it through a highly scalable cloud integration service.

With on-premises integration we already have to deal with all kinds of challenges around semantics (interpretation differences) and, for example redundancy of data (one version of the truth) but also around rules and regulations associated with the integration of the systems to provide a well functioning and predictable integration service. To provide a stable cloud integration platform these topics will probably be even more important. After all, with on-premises integration we are dealing with systems and services that we have in-house, or that at least fall under the same umbrella. And we have to deal with people we most of the times already know.

When integrating with cloud services we have to deal with systems we do not own, with people from third parties and “scary” things that happen outside our own firewalls. The forgiveness is much less present in these kind of scenarios, and providing a quick fix for failing components is also a lot less easy. In short, there’s probably even a greater necessity for strict governance than with on-premises-only integration. An overarching governance is important because hybrid integration is not something temporary but will remain necessary for the foreseeable future  (if not forever). I think Massimo has brought the message too carefully and that he actually meant to say: “Treat cloud integration not as a separate challenge with a distinct strategy, incorporate it into the existing integration strategy and make the approach and overarching governance even sturdier and more disciplined. “

My advice would be: make sure that the mandate of the Integration Competency Center (ICC) in your organization gets extended as soon as possible and incorporate the cloud integration strategy and approach. This prevents chaos and disappointments in the (very near) future.

Cheers, Gijs

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