Thanks to the cloud, integration is back -- with a twist

With rise of the cloud, enterprises finally rethink role of integration, which is both more important and easier than ever

It's like 1999 all over again. The rise of the cloud, and thus the movement to the placement of data and applications outside of the firewall, leads to the reemergence of application integration. That's why several new companies are coming online that support cloud computing integration directly, and why existing enterprise application integration (EAI) providers are dusting off their integration technology and pushing it at the cloud.

I get a kick out of these small companies that believe that integration is something they just thought about. Indeed, I hear many of the same arguments from then that now-traditional enterprise providers made back in the late 1990s when integration debuted as an architectural discipline.

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Things have changed. What was once, at the very least, a million-dollar solution is now a fraction of that cost. Moreover, standards have emerged, such as Web services, that make integration a much easier task. Finally, cloud computing requires approaches and technologies that are relatively new, so the older technology is not exactly cloud-friendly.

This cloud-driven integration need is an opportunity for most enterprises. Many in IT have not done a good job in linking systems over the years, which would have allowed them to share behavior, transactions, and most important, data. Through the rise of the Web, ERP, CRM, and even cloud-based systems, we've been building more silos, largely without a sound integration strategy.

But the overall cloud transition is changing all this. Data relocated outside of the firewall should sync up with other data to have value. That's why many in IT are rethinking their old integration strategy -- or trying to creating new ones -- with the objective of "operationalizing" new cloud-based resources.

This rethinking has two healthy implications. First, it forces IT to understand that some data is typically distributed and other data is typically siloed (usually, that means cloud and noncloud data), and there needs to be a strategy to manage that duality. Second, integration is much more real and cost-effective today than ever before, so it's easier to sell to your corporate paymaster the ROI of integration.

This article, "Thanks to the cloud, integration is back -- with a twist," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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