Businesses Must Answer the Call for Cloud-Based Integration

Organizations are expanding their cloud ecosystems, making the need for thorough integration more pressing than ever, according to a new report from Constellation Research. Integration must be more far reaching than traditional application-to-application connectivity, however, and should facilitate the high level of data accessibility that modern enterprises need to operate their businesses. "Massive connectivity is required to enable the digital business requirements customers seek," Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research, wrote in the report.

According to Wang, there are three primary forces driving the need for integration, with the first being that cloud applications have shifted dramatically from early adoption to mainstream use. Constellation estimates that there are more than 2,300 cloud software applications available for the enterprise, and recent surveys of Constellation's research board members show that the average organization uses more than 23 enterprise cloud software applications, the report states. "With few to no software start-ups funded as on-premises, cloud is the go-forward delivery platform for enterprise software consumption. Cloud integration tames the chaos of cloud proliferation," Wang explains.

The emphasis placed on having access to data rather than owning it also contributes to the prioritization of cloud integration. With more than 90 percent of the world's data having been created in the last two years, "digital business requires right-time access to this large variety of external sources," Wang says. Having quick and easy access to the right data at the right time is more crucial than owning all of it, he explains, which positions the cloud as "the foundation for pulling in the context required for relevancy and right-time delivery of information."

The report also cites the Internet of Things as a key driver for cloud integration, namely because "the growth of sensor and analytical ecosystems results in everyone and everything requiring IP addresses," Wang says. Between mobile devices, wearable technology, and other types of sensors, Constellation Research predicts that there will be roughly 47 billion connected endpoints by 2020. "To achieve business value, these networks require connectivity to integrate at not only the data level, but also the meta data and process level," Wang recommends.

For companies that have recognized the need for deeper, more effective integrations and have already begun to tackle their cloud integration challenges, the report offers some strategic advice. For example, CIOs should keep in mind that analytics drive a lot of integration requirements, according to Wang. The caveat here is that while many cloud solution providers offer reporting capabilities, most do not offer analytics solutions. This, Wang argues, will "prove to be the biggest challenge enterprises face in the next decade."

Though a daunting task, cloud integration is a core requirement for digital business effectiveness, the report asserts, and chief integration officers must step up to meet this need. "With data being the foundation of digital business, all executives must prepare for a world of massively connected systems and big data business models from sensor analytical ecosystems if they intend to succeed in transforming their businesses to support new digital business models," Wang says. "Understanding cloud integration is a requirement for that success."

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