Cloud computing is a computing model where users can store and access data and programs over the Internet instead of a computer’s hard drive. It involves using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer. Simply put, it is computing based on the Internet (The cloud).
An on-premise software is a software that is installed and runs on a computer in the premises (building) of the enterprise using the software rather than from a remote server, as in cloud computing.
Cloud computing has brought changes in the information technology and business landscape. Some of the advantages offered by cloud computing include increased flexibility, low costs per storage, near-infinite capacity on-demand, and distributed accessibility since anyone with Internet access can access the information stored in the cloud. Companies can therefore operate on a global scale without having to spend large amounts of money for expansion. This is a shift from the past when users would run applications or programs from software downloaded and installed on a physical computer or server. Using cloud computing, users can access and run the same applications and programs through the internet.
Modern businesses are increasingly adopting cloud computing. With increased volumes of data, there is a need to bridge the gap between internal systems, business partners and the cloud. Furthermore, cloud computing reduces the cost of information management, since companies are not required to own their own servers and can use capacity leased from third parties. This helps companies reduce spending on technology infrastructure, hardware, software and licensing fees.
However, full migration into cloud computing poses some risks for many companies due to concerns regarding security and control over data. Issues around maintaining legacy applications and governance have limited the utility of the cloud. There is also the issue of regulation as some countries forbid data to leave its country of origin. Companies are therefore turning to hybrid integration solutions to leverage cloud computing while maintaining existing infrastructure. They are opting for hybrid integration that provides a perfect middle ground, ensuring that data from on-premises legacy systems can integrate with cloud data without compromising the performance of the company.
A reliable hybrid integration solution solves the issue of taking existing information from on-premise systems and leverages new systems to make way for innovation, competitive advantage and new business models. It allows on-premise applications to seamlessly integrate with cloud based applications, a feature that would be reliable in the modern business world where companies want to connect their existing solutions and create a single platform for new services.
In selecting a suitable integration approach or solution, a company should consider some factors which include the resources and budget allocated for the process, the implementation time, the complexity of the implementation process, the range of integration scenarios supported, short and long-term viability, scalability and maturity.
Security is a major concern for companies when it comes to adopting cloud-based solutions, considering that information stored in the cloud can be accessed by anybody with access to Internet. Sensitive data residing outside the enterprise firewall needs to be controlled and managed or its access might jeopardize the company’s performance in the event of a security breach. Companies should therefore opt for an integration solution that is capable of authenticating and authorizing access to resources, both in the cloud and on-premise. They should go for integration solutions that are not only able to encrypt and store data, but are also a secure means of connecting the cloud to the company without compromising the firewall. A reliable integration solution allows a company to decide what data is stored in the cloud and what is stored on-premise, at the same time allowing control over data passed between specific applications, hence security and control over sensitive data is assured.
A reliable integration solution should also be an open platform that allows companies to easily migrate on or off and seamlessly integrate their applications and data, while also allowing them to freely choose and manage the information technology solutions that best fit their needs.
An example of an integration solution is Integration Platform as a Service (IPaaS). It is a set of tools that enables software users to deploy, manage, govern and integrate applications and services. It is a model of provisioning integration services as standalone platform, and it can carry out a variety of integration patterns and provide a secure means of accessing a company. Integration Platform as a Service serves as a central point of interaction for different applications and services across the cloud and a company.
The growing popularity of cloud computing models, mobile applications and social media platforms means that additional data and processes will be moving outside of company firewalls and into the cloud. Company leaders therefore need to think about how their applications will interact with each other and devise effective strategies for integrating both within the cloud and between the cloud and the business. They should opt for integration solutions or approaches that would offer secure and reliable means of storing the company’s data.