Cloud computing has entered mainstream and is an integral part of functioning for many businesses today. It is deployed in different formats i.e. SaaS, PaaS and IaaS depending upon the need of the organization. Nonetheless, traditional on-premise solutions continue to play pivotal role for running critical applications and processes. The widespread use of technology in organization like multiple internet-connected devices, multi-cloud environment and virtual services are continuously generating a lot of data.

When such is the case, it is common to find data scattered across different applications, cloud storage and on-premise applications. Data becomes useful only if it can be used for gaining insights. To achieve that, data should be available in a structured format and collected from all sources where data is present.

This issue can be resolved by deploying an integrated SaaS solution. It can be built, bought or subscribed to. Integration is necessary to keep ever expanding data under control. An integrated SaaS solution not only integrates data but helps in overcoming organizational inefficiencies, improves productivity and plug in gaps in performance. The other important roles played by SaaS integration include data transformation, data migration, application synchronization, data cleansing besides maintaining data security. Customized SaaS integration solutions have gone ahead to integrate data across social sources.

SaaS integration is in the stage of infancy and 2015 will witness coherent integration practices propagated by out-of-the-box solutions by integration service providers.

Let us take a look at how SaaS integration is evolving in 2015 and what more can be expected out of it.

Becoming a priority among IT executives

A majority of senior executives have realized that integration is critical to business solution. They further realize that cloud-to-cloud integration and better mobile access has to be a priority. According to a research by Mulesoft, it is estimated that 1/6th of the money spent on software will be spent on SaaS solutions. It also found that by 2016, 35% or more of all large and mid-size organizations will be using at least one Integration Platform as a Service offering. A majority of executives believe that SaaS integration helps in winning new customers.

Integration support strategies are evolving

Integration strategies have evolved over a period of time and providers have understood the importance of big data. Cloud service brokerages and hubs need to be developed, offering IT services and APIs. Whether it is data from Internet of Things, on-premise solutions, cloud applications, social media or mobile endpoints; it is crucial to follow an inclusive approach. Internet of Things specifically demands a new level of high volume, external facing APIs that operate in real time.

Since business processes have to start to rely heavily on connected applications and data, integration solutions will become more and more accessible to an average business user. Business environment is rapidly turning dynamic with a lot of applications and data turnovers. Self-service integration modules by solution providers will empower a line-of-business user to selectively choose the solution that fits into their organization. This will curtail time and money spent on hiring IT specialists to accomplish the same task. It will also give them flexibility to realign their solution with the changing application and cloud mix.

To cater to the user demand for growing control over technology, integration service providers are opening up APIs to facilitate users across the business to easily connect new technologies with legacy systems. Cloud endpoints typically consist of tools and capabilities that allow the user to generate APIs from an App Engine application which simplifies clients’ access to data from other applications. SaaS integration can seamlessly manage the impact of endpoints and enables you to adopt platforms designed for running hybrid structures and ecommerce APIs.

Modern SaaS integration solutions can be subdivided into three categories:

Virtual integration

Virtual integration enables the cloud applications to access information from external systems without physical transfer of data from one application to another. It helps in delivering instant insight across the business. It also minimizes data storage requirements and annuls the need to synchronize unutilized data.

Virtual integration gives your cloud-based applications access to resources running in virtual networking environment. For instance, a cloud application can have an access to database or other web services running on virtual machines by implementing an integration solution.

Cloud-based integration or iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) solution

This is the modern way of integration and is going to sustain for long. This hybrid integration is carefully designed and managed on a single cloud platform to run securely within the firewall. iPaaS solution can seamlessly connect to SaaS and other cloud services besides securely accessing legacy applications and on-premise systems.

Cloud silos (information silos formed in cloud applications resulting in loads of fragmented data across the organization) are increasingly becoming a problem for organizations operating under the umbrella of cloud applications. iPaaS ensures that these cloud silos are dissolved through integration of information.

An ideal iPaaS solution must have a robust set of connectors to be able to add new services in the rapidly changing cloud environment. Developers should be able to build applications that are integration-friendly using familiar tools and processes. Apart from that, strong management tools with the solution will help the client to understand and monitor the performance of applications. A future-ready iPaaS solution will be the one which is highly scalable, flexible and API-ready to adapt to the changing business needs.

Managed APIs

As we know, APIs are becoming intrinsic to the success of a cloud-based organization; it is important to develop a powerful mechanism to control API access and manage multiple versions of an API. API management services help you to build a secure framework whereby you can track and monitor the performance metrics, analytics, and initiate a centralized lifecycle management. Managed APIs serves as an excellent method to control access to your valuable resources.

Role of integration service providers

SaaS integration helps you to integrate with your customers, partners, suppliers, cloud platform, SaaS applications, social media, and devices. Service providers make sure that IT organizations and line of business are able to connect faster, the adoption of cloud applications is accelerated and you get value for your money invested.

SaaS integration challenges

SaaS integration may sound easy to implement but there are some inherent challenges faced by businesses. Small business owners often show inclination towards custom coding that helps in creating connections quickly to meet business needs. But custom coding sounds impractical for an expanding business as it hinders integration efforts. Point-to-point infrastructure is complex to handle and needs frequent update for newer API versions. Trouble free transformation of data from legacy apps to cloud apps is a growing challenge. Apart from that, formation of compatible connections and exercising greater control on data security, data flow, data availability and data timeliness has often bothered many businesses.

Checkpoints for SaaS integration

Before you plan to implement a SaaS integration solution for your business, it is important to evaluate the service providers.

An ideal service provider will carefully understand your business needs and desist from using ad hoc practices for integration.

As the application portfolio is becoming complex, it is essential to follow a strict disciplinary code to circumvent integration issues that may arrive at a later stage.

Execution should only be done once the integration strategy is planned and laid out with a standard methodology.

Future capabilities of integration solution should be evaluated before investing in it.

SaaS integration is critical for your business

SaaS integration offers a cost effective, low maintenance and scalable solution to your business. It gives you an ability to synchronize specific business processes. Self-service cloud integration ensures that nothing goes beyond your control. It eliminates risks and errors in your data infrastructure. You can choose from a variety of packaged endpoints and plug-ins for cloud applications and databases. With appropriate APIs, you can seamlessly exchange information with your vendors and customers. Moreover, you don’t have to boost up your capital expenditure for implementing SaaS integration.

Gradually, SaaS vendors are competing with integration service providers. Instead of directing their clients to integration providers, SaaS vendors ensure that they are able to provide integration solution to their clients.  The scale of integration required in your organization depends upon your application infrastructure, number of users and data requirements. As the organizations struggle with big data, it will be unwise to evade SaaS integration

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