Businesses today serve many different purposes and have their own unique sets of goals and values that set them apart in the industries they represent. However, one global similarity that every business shares is the eventual need for change. 

For many organizations, this change is supported by, or in many cases driven by, newer disruptive technologies that increase business scalability while improving operational effectiveness. Digital transformation tools and platforms facilitating cloud integration strategies can be considered one of these modern-day change drivers.

However, the concept of cloud integration may be difficult for some to grasp, let alone understand how it can bring real value to a business. Below we'll discuss everything you need to know about cloud integration and how it can support your business's digital transformation strategy.

What exactly is cloud integration?

Cloud integration is the combination of cloud-driven systems, services, and technologies to create a working and cohesive infrastructure for a business. 

While cloud integration isn't one unique technology or tool, it does allow businesses to break down software and service silos across their organization. Cloud integration platforms enable enterprises to unify their systems, applications, and data all in one place, whether managed on-premise or in the cloud. For organizations developing their digital transformation strategies, cloud integrations have become a staple in remaining relevant in their industries and maintaining competitive edges.

As technology continues to accelerate, organizations are looking for better ways to consolidate their applications and services while streamlining operations. This is pushing businesses to rethink their approach to infrastructure development, prioritizing more digitized solutions in the business. This has been shown in both small and larger-sized businesses that have seen a 70% increase in the number of business applications deployed over four years.

Understanding the benefits of cloud integration

One of the many benefits of Cloud integration is how it breaks down data silos. Removing these data access barriers improves collaboration and facilitates deeper analytics. What other tangible benefits can be obtained through cloud integration? Below are just a few of the ways businesses benefit:

Better system reliability

As a growing business, ensuring consistent reliability from systems and services managed on-premise can be time-consuming and costly. Cloud integrations enable low latency and highly interactive cloud-based systems. By connecting all of these services under one unified platform, organizations can also benefit from AI-driven data management tools to improve various aspects of their business. However, to benefit from these AI-driven tools, organizations need to have access to larger pools of data that can be analyzed. By deploying big data analytics within cloud-based integrations, businesses can gain key metrics into how to improve their operational efficiency while ensuring they remain competitive in their industry.

Improved agility

One of the significant benefits associated with cloud integrations is an organization's ability to remain agile when provisioning IT resources for the business. Operating in the cloud gives enterprises significant levels of flexibility when deploying new solutions, connecting business services, and scaling IT infrastructures to support growing customer demand and changing market conditions.

Reduced spending

One of the primary reasons businesses are relying more and more on cloud-based technologies is the positive impact on overall business spending. Transitioning on-premise solutions to the cloud means that businesses can reduce the bandwidth constraints placed on in-house teams to manage them. This lowers the total cost of ownership and considerably frees organizations to invest in other mission-critical areas of the business.

Types of cloud integration service models

When deciding how to execute a business move to the cloud, there are a few different cloud integration service models to choose from. 

IaaS — Infrastructure-as-a-Service models are designed to allow businesses to utilize their own applications and platforms while using hosted computing resources, including storage solutions, networking hardware, and servers.

PaaS — Platform-as-a-Service models provide businesses with a hosted platform to focus on developing their applications, tools, and business technology. PaaS solutions are ideal for organizations wishing to rely on third-party providers to manage their operating systems, security protocols, and software backups.

SaaS — Software-as-a-Service solutions are full-service subscription models that enable businesses to rely solely on third-party cloud providers for scalable computing resources, data storage and security, and application usage.

Risks to consider

While a move to the cloud can be beneficial in several ways for many organizations, it's essential to understand specific risks associated with integration.

Compliance shifts. When beginning cloud integrations, organizations must understand specific accountabilities when it comes to regulatory compliance. Depending on the industry, particular laws regulate how customer data is shared and stored regardless of whether stored on-premise or in the cloud. When migrating to the cloud, certain "shared compliance" rules apply, and businesses should carefully vet their cloud providers to ensure they meet the standards stipulated. 

Increase in remote traffic. While the move to the cloud can help unify systems and create improved visibility levels across systems, cloud-based platforms are also prone to larger amounts of remote traffic accessing connected services and databases. This increase in network traffic can prevent security risks if not adequately monitored. 

Possible migration complexities. As with any cloud integration, there are always potential operational roadblocks that make streamlining transitions difficult. While many of these roadblocks can be bypassed with strategic planning and a thorough cloud integration roadmap, organizations should be careful of the law of diminishing returns. In some instances, innovating unnecessarily may not make sense for all operational pieces of the business, and the better option may be to simply improve certain processes before forcing a cloud-based solution.

Cloud integrations will continue to drive the growth of nearly every business and industry as they continue to evolve with the growing demands of modern-day consumers. Whether you're looking to streamline certain aspects of your business or are in the process of executing a complete digital transformation, cloud integrations can provide your organization with unparalleled levels of agility and cost-saving benefits.

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