Using Cloud for Breaking Data Silos

By CIOReview | Monday, May 8, 2017
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As companies grow and evolve, they start adding new applications to meet specific business needs that arise along the way. In most cases, this process is fuelled with sharing data between applications and implementing cloud-based integration. In today's connected world, all kinds of applications—sales, inventory, payroll, warehousing and accounting, for starters—are constantly exchanging data with one another to enhance customer service, streamline business processes and generate new revenue. Smart businesses are adopting new cloud-based integration strategies to boost interaction between applications irrespective of the fact that they are running on—on-premises systems, through software-as-a-service (SaaS) subscriptions or on cloud platforms. However, sometimes doing so can result in scrapped software that can be so customized that it cannot be easily updated with a cloud-based service.

The cloud silo trap is an easy trap to fall into. Each solution may have different security and governance considerations, which can further add complications to the integration approaches to get the disparate apps working together. Enterprises can easily sign up and deploy new applications owing to the cloud's service-based delivery model. As it is easy to sign-up and deploy, it can lead to silo proliferation. Adding a complex layer of cloud-based services on top, there is a high possibility for organizations to adopt completely new SaaS and mobile applications, built specifically for the cloud. The response from the software industry to that demand has been increased specialization.

Adding to the difficulty of integrating applications and data from multiple sources is the increased use of mobile computing. According to market researcher Gartner, mobile apps are having a profound impact on IT infrastructures. Further the research firm also predicts that by 2017, wearable devices will drive 50 percent of application interactions. This is mainly because they require data from more than one system pushing the importance of data integration to the forefront.

Breaking Down Silos

Sometimes, an offshore IT consultancy can be approached to determine that little maintenance is required to be performed on the server over its lifetime. Ultimately, it is not only about the applications, it is the data that's in them—getting to it and using it. While it is easy to get the data conduits between cloud and on-premises applications working, on the other side it is difficult to do so in a way that can handle both the volume of data and the speed at which it travels.

Underlying client-server architectures often are not conducive to cloud migrations—as a result, companies can run into roadblocks when attempting to move back-end business applications to the cloud. An application that is not capable of running inside a web browser is not suitable for a cloud server as well. On-premises installations of software from established vendors such as SAP, Oracle, Microsoft and Kronos—and millions of homegrown applications built by IT departments —might not work well in the cloud.

If a company wants to move toward the cloud, these applications might need to be replaced—or can be functioned with new apps designed for the cloud age through a well-planned integration strategy. That requires a detailed understanding of the capabilities and operating requirements of every single application in the organization. A cloud-based integration initiative can also be time consuming and can take a lot of effort and money. But getting the initiative right can bring an organization's business processes and operations closer together making it worth every penny. The ultimate goal is to break down silos present in among various applications.