Connecting Hybrid Environments Requires a Well-Planned Approach

    

Hybrid Cloud EnvironmentConnectivity between systems is as much a part of doing business today as installing telephone lines was decades ago. Data from legacy systems, Software as a Service (SaaS) products, mobile devices, and even Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled devices needs to be collected, analyzed, and leveraged to get the most value from it. 

However, this poses a challenge for most organizations. A mix of complex in-house cloud-based software, solutions, services, and infrastructure can be difficult to connect and integrate. Add in the need to connect partner systems to unlock new opportunities with data, and it may seem like an impossible task. 

Many legacy systems weren’t designed with a connected future in mind, and connecting to SaaS products requires a flexible, agile approach to maximize the investment in these existing solutions. 

This means embracing a hybrid environment, where some systems are in the cloud, some are on-premise, and all of them are successfully integrated.

Hybrid Environments and Integration Have Changed

Hybrid environments have become a must as business users clamor for solutions that are easy to use and easily accessible from anywhere. Additionally, customer interactions through mobile, web, and even in brick-and-mortar locations create more data that needs to interact with systems of record. In the past, introducing point-to-point connections or enterprise service bus (ESB) solutions would allow these systems to interact.

The rapidly changing IT environment, coupled with employee, partner, and customer demands, means that these connections are fragile and cumbersome. Multiple point-to-point integrations require constant maintenance, and shared services are complex and brittle—and require specific skillsets like SOA scripting, including SOAP and WSDL. Younger developers often do not have these skills, but the need to repackage shared services as APIs is still prominent.

Connecting Hybrid Environments Requires Careful Architecture Examination

Hybrid integration requires a well-planned approach encompassing solid architecture and middleware. When connecting different systems, examining architecture, security and compliance, and scale and time-to-value will be critical, not just for today but for future needs.

Architecture is the organization’s center of systems gravity. Operating a hybrid cloud environment makes it harder to determine where to deploy an integration platform, and it may make sense to co-locate the solution in the cloud and on-premise (the possible centers of gravity, which are obvious if you’re purely in the cloud or on-premises).
 
While you’re doing that, it’s also important to consider the future, especially as you deploy more cloud solutions and retire legacy systems. Any integration solution you choose needs to help you shift the center of gravity as your business and IT needs change.
 
Security and compliance always come into play with any kind of connection, especially those that might expose data. Historically, IT has kept data behind impenetrable walls, but APIs may seem to do the opposite: opening up data stores to be used by different systems and even partners outside the organization. Having data in the cloud introduces new concerns about the security of the systems being used as well. Integration solutions need to encrypt data in transit, at rest, and at every touchpoint to ensure its safety.
 
Scale, time-to-value, and value potential may be the most difficult part of choosing an integration solution. Typically, organizations will need to define the scope of the project, organizational goals, geographic scale, and timelines.
 
You’ll also need to consider future needs and the time required to maintain the integration solution. Anything that requires brokers for queuing or server management could be a non-starter, as integration needs to scale right away, allow for API management, and help realize the value in existing applications.
 
To do this, and to avoid needing to hire professionals with SOAP and WSDL backgrounds, organizations often turn to unified platforms to connect SaaS applications with on-premises systems. These unified platforms allow developers to package SaaS and enterprise data into APIs that can be consumed by third-party developers.
 
They secure data and scale to the organization’s needs and can be hosted on premises or in the cloud. Ideally, the platforms provide a single view of the entire ecosystem, as well as offer a single IDE for developers and a deployment platform for DevOps.
 

Regardless of how many systems are running in the cloud versus on premise, integration is a must. Check out the report below from IDC to learn more about Hybrid Integration and gain insights for refining your approach. 

The Urgent Need for Hybrid Integration

To learn more about how Lightwell can help with your hybrid cloud integration strategy, including the hybrid cloud solutions we offer, contact us today.

About the Author

Lori Angalich

Lori Angalich is the VP of Marketing at Lightwell. She enjoys exploring new technologies and business models, learning how things work, solving problems, and developing new ideas with others. She has a Bachelor of Science and an MBA in Marketing, and she enjoys applying her knowledge from both each and every day.  Lori has a passion for travel, art, wine, music, wildlife (including her two dogs, who are a bit on the "wild side"), and most of all, creating great memories with her family. 

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