Author: Colm Finn, Chief Engineer – Microsoft

The last twenty years have witnessed the rapid adoption of technology that has changed our lives. As consumers demanded faster, smarter and safer interactions, enterprises have responded by creating systems that met the changing needs of their customers.

While this has worked to some extent, increasingly, organisations are faced with legacy systems speaking different languages, multiple vendors with different technologies and standards, and environments relying on a cloud versus on-premise infrastructure.

The opportunity to harness modern integration is easier than ever and provides numerous benefits – many lowering the risk of continuing to operate with patched plumbing, without having to down tools or risk losing data. There are a range of benefits of modern integration and it can make a difference to your organisation. 

 

The nuts and bolts of integration

With multiple vendors, streams of data and disparate systems, the need for cloud data integration is based on the goal of creating unified data stores that provide transparency and efficiency, and can be used by all. In essence, integration enables consolidation of information from multiple sources into one view.

Although this may sound relatively easy, the real challenge begins when organisations begin to integrate and this process is often a barrier to getting started. With many legacy systems to contend with, hybrid cloud environments and the lift and shift of workloads into the cloud, the lack of automation and centralisation can make this a mammoth task.

However, the opportunity to use tools like AWS or OpenStack data centre for public cloud providers or private cloud platforms, or Integration Platforms as a Service (iPaaS) make things easier, less prone to errors and duplication and can provide significant business benefits.

 

The benefits of integration 

Cost saving: This may not be an immediately obvious benefit, but the cost of replacing new systems and upgrading software is high. Investment in technology is essential, however the implementation and management of multiple vendors is often a double edged sword.

With many different systems to manage and maintain, the growth of your technology and ultimately your business is dependent on vastly different capabilities and enabling these systems to talk to each other and share data efficiently.

By connecting systems to each other you’re not replacing multiple platforms at different stages of their lifecycle, instead creating a central pipeline that harnesses both old and new. You can keep your existing infrastructure and add functionality when required – thereby producing a cost-effective integrated hybrid system where diverse solutions work together.

Optimise processes: Eliminating bottlenecks and reducing duplication is a significant plus point of integration. Organisations can create central software architecture that seamlessly connects between software and systems, reducing the inefficiencies of handling multiple software solutions and backlogs such as data transmission and conversion.

Integration reduces errors by eliminating delays such as ineffectual communication and increases accuracy enabling the business to run instead of walk, with far less human error.

With integration comes innovation: A little known benefit is the opportunity to innovate and create new products or services via some of the features of integration.

Industry and operations dependent, this could look entirely different from business to business, but the opportunities could range from supporting employees within streamlined processes that enable them to log timesheets, or collaborative tools that enable third parties to share data and knowledge.

This could provide a huge competitive advantage to your offering for both talent and partners, as it could reduce the need to rely on legacy systems that have repetitive tasks or cumbersome manual processes. The significance of speed and ease of working, particularly with revenue-driving parts of the business, could be an additional string to your bow.

Leverage the technology of the cloud: There are numerous benefits to cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS), not to mention the ease at which you can access the world’s best technology and infrastructure without the complexities of resourcing and running it in-house.

The cloud has revolutionised the way organisations operate and indeed how these services communicate and share with one another to facilitate the burgeoning needs of the customer.

Cloud services provide the foundation for your existing technology – systems, people, and processes to connect and exchange data. It allows for best practice implementations that can scale on demand and are highly available. This is a significant bonus when scaling your business and customising your system investments according to your requirements.

Improve business decisions: Most people will agree that they prefer to make a decision with all the facts – relevant, timely, accurate, detailed facts that shine a light on behaviours, trends, sales or growth.

Despite this need, one of the biggest challenges businesses face is the inability to get a handle on one view or even a streamlined view of the data – as it’s rarely held in one place. Ownership is often spread across multiple teams and may be fragmented.

Integration enables applications to work together and brings together various systems into one ecosystem – providing a consolidated view of numerous data touch points. This enables an organisation to interpret accurate analytics and make better decisions with input, context and awareness from relevant teams, which can ultimately lead to cost-effective improvements across the business.

Create an agile and adaptive business: These days, it takes more than just an intuition and an eye on the market to make decisions that reflect the changing landscape of the industry.

Speed, insights and agility enable any business to make change at pace, alongside being armed with the right data to appreciate and acknowledge what needs to be removed or improved.

Integration provides enterprises with a connected view of their entire ecosystem and enables connectivity at every touch point, which means customers, employees, partners and other parties can collaborate and engage. Integration allows you to make changes at pace, and introduce new software, processes and people into the business in a flash.

 

So there you have it, the nuanced world of cloud integration broken down into bite size benefits that could have a hugely positive impact on your organisation. 

Want to learn more? We have significant experience in modern integration and modern solution architecture. Our architecture principles always look to modern best practices with regards to designing in-line with DevOps/CD and loose coupling of components.

We are technology agnostic and always ensure the right technology or pattern is selected for the right purpose. This includes cloud architecture and infrastructure design across multiple cloud providers. Contact us today to set up a discovery call to go through your needs.