The ongoing value of purpose-built technology products stems from the savings in productivity and cost that come from delivering only the features and functions needed to get a certain job done. Purpose-built software solutions are an opportunity for cloud service providers to deliver well-differentiated services that are built on domain expertise for explicit problems related to specific industry scenarios. This approach often results in a strong competitive market presence for the cloud services provider.
As data management platforms and solutions continue to emerge as cloud services, purpose-built data management capabilities can be an important area both for the providers and consumers of cloud services. Data integration, in particular, has taken on immense importance due to the continuously proliferating data silos in the cloud and the need to integrate cloud data with on-premises systems. Purpose-built data integration is usually designed to meet a well-defined business need, with specific capabilities bundled in the solution, frequently delivered as an appliance.
Taking the purpose-built route for data integration services aligns with top advantages of cloud computing:
- Up and running quickly to handle integration tasks
- Enterprise-quality capabilities available to organizations of all sizes
- Always-on availability from any device or location
- The most current capabilities, without the need to purchase new licenses or new versions
- Pay-as-you-go, pay for only what is used
There is clear advantage for cloud services that support specific point-to-point integrations that can be performed easily and inexpensively, enabling less-technical business users to handle certain integrations between applications. A common integration need involves CRM and ERP systems, such as data flows between Salesforce.com and SAP. Services are built for focused use cases where business users do not have to make lots of decisions about how the integrations will be accomplished. Wizards are often employed to walk users through the process. However, business users must have good knowledge of the source and target datasets, and basic understanding of the data integration task, to work confidently and accurately through the purpose-built approach.
Cloud services for integration usually include data replication, migration, and synchronizations for customer data. Typically integrations involve certain cloud / SaaS applications as "pre-set" sources and targets, as well as on-premises systems. Data integration cloud services should also include data quality tools to involve business users in this important task.
Data integration solutions that can handle data located anywhere, as well as security and on-demand considerations, are important for connecting cloud services to on-premises systems. For many companies, the business technology that underpins those organizations is going through a transition from an infrastructure of all systems inside the firewall to more of a "hybrid" infrastructure comprised of part cloud-based services and part on-premises.
However, not all integration processes can be reduced to "simplicity". That's why data integration is still a tough nut to crack. In these situations, integrations will require the help of IT teams, consultants, and/or managed services using more sophisticated approaches. For organizations with broad needs, purpose-built data integration quickly becomes less useful as business needs change and the types of projects fluctuate. For such needs, a comprehensive and flexible data integration platform usually provides the best approach to handle current projects and to scale to address future integration challenges.
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About the author: Julie Hunt understands the overlap and convergence of many business processes and software solutions that once were thought of as "separate" – and how this impacts software Vendors and Buyers, as well as the strategies that enterprises implement for how technology supports the business and its customers. Julie shares her takes on the software industry via her blog Highly Competitiveand on Twitter: @juliebhunt For more information: Julie Hunt Consulting – Strategies for B2B Software Solutions: Working from the Customer Perspective