Rather than trying to decide between the adoption of public or private cloud capabilities, growing numbers of businesses are opting to make use of a blend of both, as Greg Cullen explains.
Hybrid cloud infrastructures are already supporting a variety of value-chain ecosystems and a range of digital business initiatives. They include projects such as the integration of big data and backend systems to support mobile applications, or the combination of SaaS apps with B2B data sources in a single portal.
Boosting hybrid capabilities
The growing enthusiasm for hybrid cloud projects means many organisations will need to upgrade their internal capabilities. Linking different cloud services and data sources together can be a complex task, and often needs to be completed quickly to meet business demands.
Take, for example, a typical service department where access to up-to-the minute information about customers is critical to operations. It’s no longer good enough to wait for the traditional 24-hour IT cycle to obtain operational reports that tell staff if customers need help and which should be contacted as a priority.
Increasingly, if customers are having bad experiences with a company’s products or service, they will take advantage of other options and churn almost immediately. This is particularly true in subscription-based online environments where a customer can turn off a service and go elsewhere with just a few keystrokes. A business needs to be able to predict if and when such an event may occur so that corrective action can be taken.
The service department may also need tools that can help staff analyse a range of different data points gathered from customer support tickets that show how often they have responded to marketing offers. Staff may even want to read the tweets customers are posting about their experiences with the business.
Clearly the collection of this type of data from multiple sources, its aggregation, and deploying filtered business rules and triggers represents a lot of work for the IT department. When you add other departments within the company to the list the workload grows even further. Everyone from marketing to finance can benefit from being notified when pre-determined business parameters are not being met but meeting their needs can prove challenging.
To meet these increasing business needs, many organisations will be faced with upgrading their existing data integration capabilities, including all layers of the cloud stack. They must also ensure they have the capability to handle large quantities of streaming data.
As well as coping with this data deluge, the technologies selected for the task must include a secure cloud-based integration platform that allows users to connect their applications with one another and transfer data between them. Browser-based graphic development tools are complemented by ready-made integration actions, flow templates, components and connectors that make data integration easy.
The five phases of hybrid integration
There are five key phases in hybrid cloud integration. They follow a trajectory from older, more mature phases, to more recent (and potentially disruptive) scenarios. In brief, they are:
- Phase 1: Replicating SaaS apps to on-premise databases – Companies in this initial stage either need business-critical information from their SaaS apps, or they are sending SaaS data to a staging database so that it can be picked up by other on-premises apps.
- Phase 2: Integrating SaaS apps directly with on-premises apps – Each line-of-business has its preferred SaaS app. Sales departments use Salesforce, marketing has Marketo, HR prefers Workday and Finance has NetSuite. These SaaS apps need to connect to a back-office ERP on-premises system, such as SAP R/3 or Oracle EBS.
- Phase 3: Hybrid data warehousing with the cloud – As the volume and variety of data grows, the business will need a strategy to move its data from an on-premises data warehouse to newer, more advanced big data resources in the cloud.
- Phase 4: Real-time analytics on streaming data – It is during this phase that systems are implemented that can provide the business with the tools to work with real-time streaming data. To realise the full benefit of real-time analytics, the business will need the support of a hybrid integration infrastructure.
- Phase 5: Machine learning for optimised app experience – In the not-too-distant future, every experience will be delivered as an app through a mobile device. The hybrid integration infrastructure will be architected to provide the ability to discover patterns buried deep within data using machine learning so applications can be more responsive to user needs.
Eventually, if current trends continue, everything will move to the cloud, supporting increasing opportunities for converging applications and data integration and redefining yet again what is meant by hybrid integration.
This trend was underscored by a recent IDC report which forecast cloud IT infrastructure spending will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.1 per cent and will reach $53.1 billion by 2019, accounting for 46 per cent of the total spending on enterprise IT infrastructure.
At the same time, spending on non-cloud IT infrastructure will decline at -1.7 per cent CAGR. Spending on public cloud IT infrastructure will grow at a higher rate than spending on private cloud IT infrastructure – at 16.3 per cent vs. 13.2 per cent CAGR. In 2019, IDC expects service providers will spend $33.6 billion on IT infrastructure for delivering public cloud services, while spending on private cloud IT infrastructure will reach $19.4 billion.
The benefits of hybrid integration
With advanced hybrid integration in place and cloud integration tools at hand, companies will be able to carry out ‘do-it-yourself’ data integration projects as there will be no need for users to constantly go back to the IT department to modify business rules and parameters. Rather, they will have a turnkey solution that allows them to quickly and easily deal with changing business requirements.
In addition, these new integration workflows developed by the user community can be leveraged by other business units as well, creating an exponential expansion of contextual information between lines of business. The IT department is therefore freed up to build platforms for future innovation by researching big data algorithms and leveraging the cloud infrastructure to maximise these new algorithms, rather than constantly putting patches on old information workflows.
In short, hybrid integration in the cloud offers enormous advantages for companies seeking the best of private and public clouds for scalability, price, control and flexibility.
 ‘Worldwide Quarterly Cloud IT Infrastructure Tracker,’ IDC, October 2015.
Greg Cullen is regional vice president – Australia and New Zealand for Talend, a global leader in big data and cloud integration solutions. He has more than 20 years of experience in global and regional sales management having worked for organisations including Zuora, ServiceNow and PlateSpin where he established a track record of successfully working with customers to support their transformation.