How to Build Cloud Integration Architecture for your Business?

Cloud integration
Aran Davies
Blockchain Expert | Developer | Writer | Photographer

Looking for information on cloud integration architecture, strategy, patterns, etc? 

Look no further as this is what we will cover here.

In this article, we aim to give an overview of cloud integration, both in terms of its architecture and the best strategies for implementation. 

We intend to begin with a brief explanation as to why choosing the correct method for cloud integration is so important, before going to cover the different types of cloud computing architecture in more depth.

Cloud integration: Strategy for implementation

In his article ’5 steps to guide your cloud integration strategy, David Hoff outlines 5 key approaches to successful cloud integration:

  1. Adopt a business-centric approach
  2. Emphasize the importance of data quality
  3. Think enterprise-wide
  4. Consider external requirements
  5. Establish a well-defined governance structure

We would argue that there should be one major addition to his list which I will talk about here:

A woman doing yoga

  1. Flexibility

The ability to adapt plans and implementation models quickly and effectively is key to any successful implementation. In our time, we have seen too many examples of unsuccessful or really painful cloud integration attempts. 

These resulted from teams doggedly sticking to set migration plans, even in the face of overwhelming problems. We recognize that this often results from a failure in the chain of command, where despite having clearly identified the problem, lower-level technicians feel unable to overrule those in control of the project.

We apply the term flexibility to any aspect of the project‘s management/implementation that can and should adapt in order to ensure the overall success of the project.

This can be anything from replacing ineffective APIs to adjusting timelines and team members’ roles/tasks (though the latter should be a last resort).

To David Hoff‘s point regarding the need to ’establish a well-defined governance structure‘, we would add the need to ensure staff is fully trained, competent, and knowledgeable in what they are required to do. An obvious point we know, but one that is often overlooked in an attempt to save money.

The two main types of SaaS integration:

  1. Cloud application integration

When you take a moment to consider just how many different requirements companies and individuals demand of applications, it is not hard to see why application developers are in a constant battle just to keep up.

The main challenge of application integration is that in today‘s world, most applications interact in some form or another with other applications. 

Examples of this cloud architecture integration can be anything from stock changes being transferred between itinerary programs as orders are fulfilled to customer service agent‘s notes being transferred to applications used by sales reps.

I remember a rather nasty incident when during my first job after leaving university, I took a call and finalized an advertisement someone wished to place in our company‘s publication. 

Well, no less than 30 minutes later I was summoned to a meeting with the head of both my department and that of customer services. I was accused of deliberately stealing a co-worker’s client (and therefore her commission) and was threatened with disciplinary action. 

I protested my innocence but to no avail. It wasn‘t until both departments examined the customer‘s file on their respective systems and discovered that due to some application update issue, the notes had not been transferred to my application that my innocence was proved. 

I give this example to highlight just one example of the consequences that this kind of data transfer problem can cause within a company.

Well, unfortunately, many years later and latency is still a huge issue. Cloud developers have, however, come up with a range of tools to try to overcome this and other systems integration issues. 

These include asynchronous ’callbacks‘ where data is transferred to a pre-established location that is being monitored by the recipient application, and the more scalable ’send and forget strategy‘, which is more straightforward to implement and so is a better alternative for many kinds of companies.

The task of cloud application implementation can be made a lot easier if you are intending to simply transfer over from a ’traditional application‘ over to its cloud counterpart (Microsoft Word for example). 

Since the data source will be ’well-known‘ to the cloud application, this kind of migration is usually quite straightforward.

If you intend to make the transfer from a non-traditional application to a non-related cloud application then you will need to do your homework. 

You should research compatibility as well as general integration issues such as the data transfer method. If in doubt, give customer service agents of your cloud platform a call so you can find out for sure.

  1. Cloud data integration

Data integration processes usually refer to the transfer and synchronization of large amounts of data between repositories or data centers where it is stored for later analysis. 

Since this data is being processed by very few applications and is not subject to real-time alterations, latency and other such problems are not really an issue.

The real hurdles come with the mass transfer of huge amounts of data which can often clog networks and eat up all the available bandwidth. 

Feasibility studies of cloud infrastructure by cloud providers are essential before attempting to implement this kind of cloud integration solution. These studies should consider the aspects of existing network architecture that are required to transfer such large amounts of data to evaluate if they are suitable or will need upgrading.  

There are many solutions to these issues including implementing ’Cross Connect Architecture‘ and ’Data integration Solutions‘ to help ensure efficient bandwidth allocation and to help clean/standardize data before it is transferred.

Using Cloud Integration Patterns to overcome integration problems

Cloud integration patterns are commonly used to negate integration problems. They allow the creation of a framework to design and implement integration capabilities between different applications, environments, and networks. 

Since these patterns, once created, are available to other users, they dramatically reduce problems and offer great cost and time reductions.

Main types of cloud integration patterns:

  • Shared Databases – Designed to facilitate data integration flows between multiple applications
  • Asynchronous Messaging – The source application is not connected to the receiver(s) application. Rather data is sent to a predetermined destination, a middleware, that is monitored by the receiver application(s). Once detected it will then be transferred to the receiver‘s database.
  • Remote Procedure Call – A protocol that facilitates data requests by programs on the network.
  • File Transfers – This allows the mass transfer of data that is then available to multiple users and multiple applications.

Our Final Thoughts on Cloud Integration

While it is true that building or migrating to a cloud integration architecture is certainly no easy task, the main ingredient to success is to keep focused on the overall long-term benefits that it will bring to your business.

If you are at a stage (which most medium to large-sized companies should be), where you are strongly considering a move to partial or full cloud integration, then in our view, the sooner the better. 

The best advice anyone can offer in regards to cloud integration architecture is to keep in mind your goals, do lots of research, make sure to get lots of second opinions, and always remember to build flexibility into your cloud integration strategy. 

If you do all that, you are certain to succeed. Just in case you should run into difficulties and feel like you want to destroy every computer insight, here is a reminder that you are not alone.

If you are about to embark on a cloud integration project and don’t have the required skills and experience then why not reach out to DevTeam.Space by letting us know a few details of your needs via this link.

Once you have, an account manager will reach out to you to answer your questions and show you how we can help with cloud applications development for your business processes.

 Frequently Asked Questions on Cloud Integration Architecture

What is cloud integration?

This is the process of integrating cloud-based services into pre-built on-premises applications. Use cases include the use of cloud storage to backup files and access remotely or a cloud app, like Salesforce, to integrate into your business workflows.

How cloud computing affects the advancements in technology?

Cloud computing is encouraging innovation and increasing profitability by enabling businesses to implement advanced technologies like DevOps, automation, and IoT through secure cloud resources with no requirement of spending on hardware and software components. Businesses can opt for a public, private, or hybrid integration platform.

What is the best integration platform?

IBM App Connect is highly recommended by many developers. It has features like smart connectors to work easily with multiple information systems, multi-cloud integration tools, etc. You can know more about its pricing here.

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