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Putting data in motion: Taking the challenge out of multi-cloud integration

April 19, 2023
"Most businesses find themselves managing multi-cloud environments, regardless of whether it was in their plans."

By Dr. Stefan Sigg, chief product officer with Software AG

Most businesses find themselves managing multi-cloud environments, regardless of whether it was in their plans. Through a combination of mergers and acquisitions, legacy data and infrastructure requirements, and historical decisions, organizations are seeing their critical business information get siloed on different clouds.

The irony of the situation is that this isolation of data invalidates one of the original promises of cloud computing: that information can be accessed from anywhere.

The problem has grown enough that eight out of 10 enterprises say managing multi-cloud environments is one of the biggest challenges today. According to the 2023 Flexera State of the Cloud report, managing these bespoke services becomes more complex as organizations consume more services from multiple cloud vendors. Having valuable data fragmented across locations makes it difficult to ensure that it’s consistent and up-to-date, leading to missed business opportunities and bad customer experiences.

The problem certainly isn’t going away, and the rapid rise of the adoption of generative AI for business applications will only create further complexity for the data landscape as organizations scramble to adopt the latest and hottest in tech. It takes massive amounts of data to train the large language models required by generative AI, and a lack of sufficient data can lead to inferior models.

The need to navigate the barriers of multi-cloud integration and ensure enterprises stay intrinsically connected makes it critical to get data out of its depository and keep it moving. Putting data in motion begins with integration platforms that can be designed once and deployed anywhere using an iPaaS (integration platform as a service) model. These iPaaS services integrate data between various apps, clouds, and databases that were not designed to talk to each other. The best of them are vendor-agnostic, enabling businesses to use the cloud providers that best match their needs and goals. The real business value, however, comes as the platform makes this data flow seamlessly along the business processes as they jump from one app to the other in an IT landscape.

Behind the scenes, integration connectors work the real magic—linking applications, databases, SaaS platforms and more. Connecting those systems also unlocks powerful data analytics, which opens the path to automating complex workflows. Even simple workflow automation can begin to get tricky as more parties and systems get involved, so it’s important to have reliable connectors as the foundation.

To show how multi-cloud integration might work in the real world, consider a company working to transform itself from a traditional manufacturer into a digital business. It’s not unusual to have years of work and millions of dollars invested in core business technologies that have accumulated over time. And multiple stakeholders—plant managers, production executives, engineers and quality control experts—rely on all kinds of data created by multiple systems to keep things running smoothly.

For that reason, companies can’t tear out one infrastructure and replace it with another. Smart integration provides a better path forward. The first step would likely be standardizing internal processes and IT systems to eliminate wasted effort and increase efficiency. Even a tight focus on one division of the company could result in streamlined processes via an integrated architecture.

Once the platform is established, it can form the basis for all new projects and enable them to start from a clean slate. Now, in addition to efficiency gains, new revenue streams from innovative digital services are possible with a more connected enterprise.

Integration strengthens a company’s digital backbone—the fundamental, structural support for all its systems, apps, networks and employees—which is an important aspect of technology modernization, a top priority for enterprise CIOs as they manage multi-cloud environments and look to extend their IT portfolios.

The speed of business today means that companies with outdated and siloed data will almost certainly lag behind their competitors. The more connected a company can make its infrastructure through integration, the more future-proofed it becomes.