In today’s day and age, the question is not whether an enterprise should keep its systems and business processes on-premise or in the cloud, but rather, what mix of enterprise and cloud-based applications should they have in place to best facilitate business-oriented outcomes? However, for a company to be able to successfully meld its on-premise and cloud applications together, it needs the proper cloud integration tools in place to do so.
And that’s where a cloud integration platform comes into play. The cloud offers a world of possibilities, but many companies are finding that integrating the cloud with its legacy software ends up being much more difficult than they anticipated. But thankfully, cloud integration services are evolving, including specialized cloud integration platforms with as-a-service capabilities to deliver solutions designed to better solve specific hybrid integration challenges.
What is Cloud Integration?
Cloud integration is a system of solutions and technologies that connects multiple cloud environments, applications, or systems for the real-time exchange of data and processes.
By unifying disparate information solutions, cloud integration breaks down data silos, enhances visibility, and streamlines business processes.
What is a Cloud Integration Platform?
To learn how to take advantage of the promise that a cloud integration platform brings, it is important to fully understand just what it does, and what it is capable of.
A cloud integration platform is a term often synonymous with the integration platform as a service (iPaaS) category under the application, integration, and middleware technology sector. Broadly, a cloud integration vendor offers an enterprise solution that provides features and functionality designed to enable integration between a company’s local data, files, and on-premise applications with cloud-hosted data and systems.
An integration platform needs to ensure seamless connectivity between the on-premise legacy environments and modern cloud-based applications. Without a proper connection in place, the company will be unable to successfully enable integration processes necessary to enable mission-critical business processes and deliver business value. A cloud integration platform that enables integration and process automation to make it much easier to integrate business processes.
A cloud integration platform provides automation tools that help connect software applications regardless of which environment that they are deployed in. Further, cloud integration platforms provide a centralized console to manage, govern, and integrate cloud-based applications, using tools that connect cloud applications and services, and control integration flow. A company can use a cloud integration platform for a variety of reasons, namely to scale performance needs, add product functionality, as well as secure data, trading partner (B2B/EDI), and application integration.
Differences between Cloud Integration Platforms and ESBs
Since we’ve already discussed the fundamentals of cloud integration platforms, let’s take a moment to go over the enterprise service bus, or ESB, for short.
Basics of an ESB
An enterprise service bus (ESB) is essentially an architecture that is a set of rules and principles to facilitate the integration of different applications together.
While often characterized as legacy technology, an ESB is designed to:
- Integrate different applications via a communication bus
- Decouple business processes from one another
- Create system independence
While ESB might seem a bit outdated, it is still recommended for certain tasks, including creating and aggregating services, and a lightweight ESB is designed for embedded integrations. Whereas cloud integration platforms are far more flexible and allow an enterprise to do things much more efficiently.
Cloud Integration Platform Categories
Under the integration platform as a service umbrella, there are a few different categories where distinction matters. While at its most basic form, a cloud integration platform is a way to integrate cloud-based applications with existing systems, and in certain highly-specialized instances provide domain-specific integration capabilities around ecosystem enablement, IoT, and mobility.
An EiPaaS solution is built to be high-functioning and versatile, able to do a variety of tasks based on enterprise-focused use cases. These tools are focused on enterprise-grade capabilities, and run a full spectrum of integration personas. The most likely companies to use EiPaaS are midsize, large, and global organizations.
A domain-specific iPaaS solution, on the other hand, is positioned as extremely high-productivity. DSiPaaS tools are also versatile but have a focused scope around verticals, ecosystems, processes, and regions. These are persona-oriented platforms that target very specific markets and use cases.
Examples of DSiPaaS specialization might include:
- B2B integration
- Big Data
- Data pipelines
How Industry Leaders Leverage Cloud Integration Platform Technologies
The cloud integration platform market is growing rapidly; in fact, the segment of the application integration technology market will expand at just over 34 percent year-over-year, representing dynamic growth in the AIM space. So it’s no surprise that companies are starting to recognize the benefits and looking to take advantage in many ways.
1. B2B Data Exchanges
By leveraging an iPaaS platform, an enterprise holds its integration technology hosted in the cloud rather than behind its firewall. This enables seamless data management by allowing a company to receive data in real-time, quicker than ever. Having data available at the right time and place is critical.
2. Embedded Integration Offerings
Companies can also take advantage of embedded integration technologies, another advanced cloud integration mechanism. SaaS companies often have trouble trying to come up with a way for their in-house private cloud technologies to natively communicate across business boundaries to ensure seamless data movement and integration between their services and customers. Embedded integration capabilities mean that the B2B tools and features that connect customer systems and create a secure data gateway are built right into a SaaS architecture. This creates a much more seamless customer interaction with faster and more reliable information exchanges.
Because so many B2B ecosystems are expanding faster than ever, it’s imperative to be able to connect with a new partner or customer instantly. Onboarding needs to happen within a matter of hours, ideally. But cloud integration platform solutions make that more efficient than ever before. Regardless of what type of business processes and systems your partners and customers have, leveraging a cloud integration platform allows you to rapidly connect, saving precious time and resources, and enabling faster time to value.
There will also come a time when some type of change in solutions that either you, your partners, or customers must enable. And when that happens, changes will need to be made in your integration solutions. The right cloud integration platform allows you to make changes on the fly and provides full configuration over your entire portfolio.
5. Save Money
A cloud integration platform is much easier and affordable to set up, manage, and deploy any type of integration. It’s far more cost-efficient than outsourcing to an IT specialist to build everything in-house or hiring more full-time employees to manage a solution internally. Traditional integration, by comparison, necessitates creating custom connections to a third party application individually, which can skyrocket prices and system convolution in a hurry.
Essential Elements of a Cloud Integration Platform
When selecting a cloud integration platform, it’s critical that an enterprise strategically knows what to look for and makes sure that they get it. Many vendors out there might latch on to a new hot buzzword, but beyond the hype are the fundamental elements that make up a cloud integration platform.
1. Robust Set of Connectors for SaaS and Cloud Services
The ability to add new services is one of the most essential ingredients that make up a cloud integration platform. An efficient cloud integration platform solution will come with pre-built connectors and integration features that can handle even the most complex environment.
2. Easy to Manage Virtual Infrastructure
The more trading partners and customers that an enterprise takes on, the more complex an environment can get. That’s why it is so crucial that a cloud integration platform solution takes that complexity away and simplifies things. The platform must be easy to scale and use, and require no custom code or specialized skillsets to manage a daily integration operation.
An effective cloud integration platform will seamlessly provide automation for several different tasks. These range from integrating between online services, such as Salesforce and NetSuite, and process automation. Instead of spending employee resources on mundane, time-consuming processes, a cloud integration platform allows companies to integrate and automate those tasks efficiently to deliver better customer experiences and improve employee productivity.
There is no such thing as an effective cloud integration platform if it isn’t going to remain secure and protect your data. Companies need to ensure that their solution will not compromise sensitive data, and will have enhanced security so that it stays that way.
In an enterprise environment, it’s an understatement to say that things change fast, and a company needs to be able to incorporate those changes from a partner or customer in a hurry. Quickly connecting all systems and applications, regardless of where they are located, is a must. It doesn’t matter what type of application type is being connected – speed is the name of the game.
The Most Flexible Cloud Integration Platform
The Cleo Integration Cloud (CIC) provides the flexibility that customers crave, everything ranging from B2B, application, on-premise, and cloud integration, to data lake ingestion processes for extensive ecosystem enablement. CIC gives its customers an edge in the form of a digital business platform that enables relationship management, flexibility, and agility. Further, self-service tools and real-time visibility provide unrivaled simplicity and business intelligence in ecosystem integration scenarios. By spanning all modern integration use cases, CIC centralizes the governance of partner, supplier, and customer interactions for frictionless business process orchestration.
Cleo Integration Cloud’s Key Capabilities
Cleo Integration Cloud gives its users a range of features that make doing business much simpler than ever before. But not only is CIC simple, but it’s also effective, affordable, and makes you feel secure.
Onboarding has never been easier through CIC. Set up a new partner or new application integration in a fraction of the time compared to traditional methods. As noted above, one of the most important features of an integration platform is the ability to set up new and connections quickly – and that’s exactly what CIC does. In fact, CIC allows your business to add highly-secure ecosystem connections in a matter of minutes – not months.
Robust Data Movement
The next feature that CIC includes is that it can extend integration capabilities out to partners and customers which makes it that much easier for an enterprise to do business with. The ability to move extensive amounts of data is one that cannot be understated, and Cleo Integration Cloud moves data of any size, volume, or type up to 345 percent faster than competitors.
Throughout a business process, from start to finish, enterprises want to have true, clear visibility into all of their data. CIC allows companies to access real-time visibility into all data being generated and exchanged throughout the entire business.
Do Business Faster With Cleo Integration Cloud Today
Whether it’s an easy-to-use interface, wizard, or template, CIC shields your business from the complexity of modern integration of any kind, regardless of cloud, application, or trading partner requirements.
By leveraging Cleo Integration Cloud, users can quickly and securely exchange, transform, validate, and integrate all of their data. Businesses can also optimize cost with a predictable solution TCO allowing new connections to be added rapidly to support a faster time to value. It’s integration anyway – and anywhere you want it.