5 Approaches to Cloud Applications Integration

Solution architects must choose the right approach for their cloud integration projects.

Cloud-based applications are proliferating as organizations adopt software as a service (SaaS) and cloud-native development to enable digital business. At the same time, the number of options available for integrating these applications with each other and with on-premises systems is growing. This puts cloud integration on the priority list of every solution architect.

Gartner predicts that by 2021, over 75% of midsize and large organizations will have adopted a multicloud or hybrid IT strategy.

However, the vast capacity and computing power of the cloud comes at a price: Decentralization.

The key to success is to find the approach that maximizes the value delivered by each integration

“The decentralized nature of the cloud becomes a challenge when you need to integrate applications, for example, to optimize business processes or gain real-time access to data across various systems and providers,” says Kevin Matheny, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner.  

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Solution architects must decide on the best way to create integration between cloud-hosted, SaaS and on-premises applications. The key to success is to find the approach that maximizes the value delivered by each integration rather than trying to maximize the value of your investments in integration tools.   

Approach No. 1: Integration platform software

Integration platform software works best when a large portfolio of integrations needs to be managed and the data must be transformed or modified when it passes between the applications. Its core competency is the ability to handle complex integrations.

Approach No. 2: iPaaS

Integration platform as a service (iPaaS) delivers functionality similar to integration platform software, but as a hosted cloud service. It is a better option for organizations looking to outsource the operational aspects of their integration middleware, but has more limited functionality to integrate deeply with on-premises applications.  

Approach No. 3: SaaS vendor tooling

Many SaaS vendors offer out-of-the-box integrations, and third parties provide extensions or plug-ins that enable easy integration between applications. This approach works well for nontechnical users, as it is easy to implement and update. However, those conveniences come at the cost of flexibility and control.

Approach No. 4: Custom code

In-house development teams can always create a direct integration between systems, either as a stand-alone application or within one of the applications being integrated. Although custom code can be tailored specifically to integration needs, the skill set to execute such a project might not be available at your organization.

Approach No. 5: fPaaS

Some cutting-edge organizations are leveraging function platform as a service (fPaaS) to deliver a customized set of integration capabilities. This approach creates a suite of integrations rather than a single one. Using this approach requires substantial skill with function-oriented software development and cloud-native architectures.  

Gartner clients can read more in “Comparing Integration Options for Cloud-Hosted, SaaS and On-Premises Applications” by Kevin Matheny, et al.

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