Figuring out the most efficient ways of handling big data and data-related procedures is one of the most important questions in business today. One promising and already very helpful solution is provided by the developments in cloud computing. Keeping data in the cloud instead of local databases has saved many businesses a lot of trouble and resources. However, when we utilize the cloud along with other systems and platforms, we face questions and challenges of cloud integration. Let us look at how these challenges can be met to ensure that the benefits outweigh the costs of integration.
Integrating the systems
Companies use various databases, platforms, software, and all kinds of systems to hold, move, process, and analyze their data. Integrating these systems, used by different departments and for diverse purposes is the main challenge. And cloud-based integration offers one kind of general solution to it.
Cloud integration is a type of integration of the systems used by businesses that connect multiple cloud environments and applications thus enabling the real-time exchange of data, tools and synchronizing various data-handling processes. Thus, the main goal of such integration is enhancing the ability of different departments to utilize the same tools and assets at the same time and cooperate efficiently for common business benefits.
Cloud-based integration is done by using software tools and infrastructure that support cloud connection and are capable of streamlining data from between the various systems. These tools can be deployed by the company on its premises. However, it is a time-consuming and costly practice. Alternatively, businesses tend to use cloud integration platforms, also known as integration platform as a service (iPaaS). These platforms provided all the necessary automation applications for integration and a centralized tool for overseeing and controlling the integration flow and data handling.
Benefits of cloud integration
The multiple benefits of cloud-based integration are related to solving the problems caused by data silos. These silos are defined as separated data repositories that are controlled by one department and are not available as a part of organization-wide data administration. The advantages of cloud integration that come with overcoming such data silos are as follows.
- Accessibility. Storing data in the cloud highly increases its accessibility throughout the enterprise. Different departments can reach all the data sets owned by the company, thus bridging the gaps in the exchange of information. This prevents the aforementioned silos and ensures an efficient flow of data.
- Flexibility. Additionally, the way data is shared, accessed, and analyzed is very flexible, meaning that different modes of administration may apply. Thus, the firm itself is in charge of how the data is handled, what limitations and for which users are made on it, and how the tools are used.
- Scalability. Furthermore, the changes in data handling are easy to apply in the cloud. This includes both changes in the volume of data and in the software tools that are deployed and utilized.
- Visibility. With cloud integration, the responsible teams are able to constantly look over what is happening and why, which applications are used and how the data moves. This increased visibility allows preventing unexpected errors or conflicts in data management and in case of issues, fixing them quickly.
- Cost control. Finally, having all the aforementioned features available, companies can control their spending on the cloud and data handling. As they see which applications are mostly used and how much storage space is necessary, businesses can make adjustments and direct their resources to the most effective usage.
Challenges and best practices
The main challenges associated with cloud integration are related to security concerns. These concerns are especially pressing when multiple clouds are being used to store data since that means more surface for possible cyberattacks.
Here are some tips and best practices regarding how these challenges can be answered.
- Synchronizing policies and settings across providers: When multiple clouds are used for the same operations and data storage, the same security policies and rules should apply to all of them.
- Differentiating policies and settings across operations: However, when different operations and applications are used in different clouds, settings should be differentiated as well. This is due to the fact that operations might be of varying levels of initial security. As different quantities and types of users may be handling specific batches of data, varying oversight for it may be needed. The security settings should be accommodated to reflect this variation.
- Automation: The best practice to avoid data breaches associated with human error or malevolent actors is automation. All tasks that can be automated should be. For example, automated PKI saves you set-up costs, team resources, maintenance time, and compliance among others. Digital signing saves a lot of time that would otherwise be wasted identifying the person manually. Digital Signatures saves time, improves efficiency, and leaves fewer openings for unauthorized access to the data.
Data security is the main question to be answered when increasing data integration throughout organizations. Thus, business data specialists are constantly working to improve the ways we can protect data in the clouds by utilizing the best tools and management practices.