To make the clouds Talk

Some days ago, I was talking to an IT manager form a manufacturing company. He has one concern:

Earlier it was the IT team which used to be instrumental in selecting first the IT products and thereafter the vendors to support them. The IT systems were centralized or at least synchronized by the IT team.
However as more and more departments have started moving onto cloud based SaaS products, the trouble for the IT team is to ensure that all such systems are synchronized. Various clouds –a melee of public, private or hybrid clouds need to be integrated and that is a complex job.

The situation is not unique for the company. The same problem is being faced by many other companies. Almost half of the organizations, opting for cloud platforms in the last 3-4 years had to give up their effort due to lack of secure, operational and effective integration. More than 50% project deadlines have been missed in recent past since integration was not thought through and umpteen number of security breaches have been associated with an improper and unreliable integration.

In the dynamic world as today, where disruption is the in-thing, we still want our integrations to be stable and non-disruptive. Following points may be kept in mind to put in place an integration which is operational, easy to maintain as well as secure or in short integration, which organizations would desire for:

1. Keep it Simple: Most important aspect of any integration is stills simplicity. The simpler the integration, the easier it would be to manage the same. So, it’s always better to select simple and operational platforms – and the one in which expertise exists. SOAP, REST, SFTP are some of the integrations protocols which can be used, that are easy. However depending on the products and ease of implementation, a platform should be selected. Unnecessary validation and complex coding methods may add to the complexity of integration. The thumb rule should be ‘Simpler the better’
2. Pre-built or Re-build: While developing the integration, some research may come handy. Existing adaptors for integration between two products may 1. Make it easy to develop or configure the remaining code and 2. Can have faster turnaround. So, before you take a decision on whether to build and integration from scratch, check of existing adapters if any exist.
3. Keep it visible: Once the integration is operational, the same needs to be maintained and/or improvised upon. Anything that cannot be measured cannot be improved upon. Anything that you do not have visibility in is almost impossible to be measured. So, it is imperative to use tools which would give as much visibility to integration as possible. Visibility is needed in services availability, availability of node and adapters being known and ease in tracking source of failure if any failure occurs.
4. Adapt to change and change to adapt: More than the technical bottleneck, the real challenge comes in form of attitude of people handling the technology. So it is very important to train the user community as well as IT team to change their approach so that they can adapt to the changes.
5. Recommendation: when you are unsure, it always helps to get recommendation from people you can trust. These sources could be a reliable vendor, business partner, customers of the vendors or reliable literature.

So, in short, before you make the clouds talk, it’s always better to talk

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