When people ask  “what are your biggest concerns about cloud” you may think security, lack of standardization or reliability, but the real challenge is the same challenge that has challenged every enterprise; how do I get my applications to talk to each other and how to I respond to changes in my business?

The fact is that there are some major trends happening that are making integration an important if not the most important economic and business imperative.

Applications and Services

The growth in number and use of SaaS applications creates new integration challenges. Each SaaS application is a silo of data and/or functionality that you will need to integrate with. The fact that SaaS applications are so easy to consume means that we get even more fragmentation across departments in a single company, which means more integration points. The is the Cloud Silos effect that I have blogged about before. The number of organizations adopting SaaS and Cloud services is exploding, yet market surveys consistently show integration to be the number one challenge they face in adopting these technologies. According to a recent report from Gartner, an entirely new sector will emerge to address this issue, defined as integration platform as a service (iPaaS). By 2016, Gartner has predicted that at least 35% of all large and midsize organizations worldwide will be using one or more iPaaS offerings in some form.

A recent survey by Saugatuck asked executives about their concerns regarding SaaS deployment and use, a staggering 72% of respondent cited integration concerns (with Enterprise data and applications and other SaaS applications).

Furthermore, these concerns are having a negative impact on SaaS providers. Gartner ran a recent survey of 270 executives and found that the number one reason that organisations move away from SaaS is due to integration challenges.

Cloud and Hybrid Computing

We are shifting where our workloads run with IaaS and now how we build our applications PaaS. The enterprise center of gravity is shifting out from behind the firewall. Our data and applications now live on both sides of the wall. This creates a number of headaches but integration is still one of the most painful since we need to move data between these worlds.

Mobile

I have talked previously about the Consumer explosion, this right now is primarily driven by smart phones. Each device becomes a consumer of one or more remote services, whether it be Facebook, HBO on demand or Kayak. While mobile doesn’t add to the integration problem it drives the need for better solutions. A mobile device needs to consume data from various applications which means those applications must be integrate-able (typically through an API). This factor alone is changing the traditional application architecture model where the old logic tier now becomes a service tier that different consumers can interact with.

Social Media

For me social media is interesting because I see it being used to enrich and add context to existing enterprise data (though there are much further-reaching usages). This new data is enabling a new bread of application that is far richer in functionality than traditional applications. What we’ve seen a MuleSoft is our customers have been leveraging social media data to create better user experience, using networks like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and TripIt.

Big Data

The big data deluge has created new ways of dealing with massives of structured and unstructured data with Hadoop holding the torch.  As products like Hadoop and variants like Cloudera gain traction it becomes clear that once you can process a lot of data efficiently you want to start putting more data in. This data is often locked with an application or filesystem or database. Integrating these sources of data is challenging and new solutions are starting to emerge to address the problem in the cloud.

New problem, new solution

Each of these trends drives home the need for a new solution to tackle cloud integration. Platform as a Service is that solution. iPaaS is a dedicated platform for performing integration across a variety of cloud and enterprise services. iPaaS is independent of any particular SaaS application and application Platform as a Service. It needs to be neutral and open to facilitate communication between all the different actors in the cloud whether it’s a SaaS application, a custom application running on Azure or CloudBees, and mobile app or a big data cluster.

We’re busy ready for the public launch of Mule iON, the first integration PaaS that will redine what you should expect from integration. Watch this space.

Follow: @rossmason, @mulejockey


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One Response to “Integration is the biggest challenge in the cloud”

From the Mule’s Mouth » Zuora and MuleSoft: Integration Should Be This Easy January 24th, 2012, 11:03 am

[...] but one of the major hurdles to SaaS adoption is integration (which I elaborated on here [...]

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