The integration of cloud and on-premise applications is known as a hybrid cloud solution. There may be several different reasons why your organization would want to implement such a solution.
Convenience and the need to access data across on-site and remote teams are common drivers. So is the desire to strike a balance between enhancing system performance and keeping sensitive data under your control.
The work processes you’ve established and client or customer requirements can also contribute to the desire to go hybrid. In the long run, your company may even want to fully migrate to the cloud. Going hybrid is a good way to try cloud-based applications without fully committing.
But just as there are multiple reasons to integrate, there is more than one way to do it. Integration platforms such as an iPaaS connect data and business processes from local, private cloud, and public cloud applications. Software as a service (SaaS) tools and application programming interfaces are another method. When complete in-house control is necessary, you can develop your own code, provided your IT department has the skills. There is also the option of a function platform as a service or fPaaS.
Integration Strategies to Consider
Gartner predicts that by 2022, at least 65% of large organizations will put a hybrid integration platform in place. However, the reasons and strategies behind integration vary. You’re on the right track if you start with an evaluation of capabilities, resources, and goals. Here are three overall approaches to integration.
Keep Your Applications On-Site
The first approach is to keep solutions and processes on-site but move data storage and redundancy into the cloud. This provides backup and replication of processes if something happens to local servers and applications.
Using local applications to accomplish work processes while storing backups in the cloud is advantageous for multiple reasons. You can easily recover important data and still run processes via replication, regardless of whether your local systems are working.
If a natural disaster or power outage strikes, you won’t suffer from downtime. You’ll also save on equipment costs since your backups will not be stored on-site. Should the local copy of your application develop a glitch, you’ll have another means of avoiding service interruptions.
Keep Your Data Local
The second strategy is to run applications from the cloud, and store data locally. Enhanced or stricter data security requirements are the main reasons you would choose this route. Think about regulations for financial data in the healthcare industry. Maintaining 100% control over client or patient data on your premises may be mandatory.
However, your organization also needs some flexibility when it comes to using applications. If you’re a big conglomerate with multiple sites, it’s more practical for you to have apps in the cloud.
From a performance and latency perspective, it doesn’t always make sense to have all applications stored at a single site. Some organizations may find it difficult to buy and maintain the network equipment to support the necessary bandwidth.
Keep Shifting in Phases
A third strategy is to fully transition from on-premise to cloud-based applications in phases. This approach works best if your organization already knows that it wants to make a complete shift. There are practical considerations that may make a sudden, complete transition too disruptive.
Phasing out on-premise applications in stages can minimize disruptions. It also gives the company a chance to train employees. You can avoid problems like reduced productivity and efficiency. You’ll also keep data access open to employees and prevent information silos.
Variables to Evaluate
As part of your strategic approach to integration, you should assess what on-site applications you have. Understand how they’re used and why. What would happen if those applications suddenly went away? Are there appropriate replacements that could replicate the business processes and workflows your local apps currently support?
Look at Your Current Apps and Resources
Equally important is whether there is cloud support or compatibility for the programs you use on-site. APIs that can sync data between the cloud and local apps will give you a leg up. If API support isn’t available, or the costs are too high, you may face more significant challenges.
You also need to know the internal demands for on-site apps. Gather data to uncover any trends in the capacity the organization needs, including spikes or rapid increases. You’ll want to know when these occur and how often.
This is because you’ll need at least equivalent resources when you shift to cloud-based apps. You may want to run stress tests and application performance simulations. Some vendors will help you with this, but you should also learn how to do this by yourself. That’s especially true if you’re going to build your own code.
Determine Your Security Policies
Managing cloud and on-site application access is another fundamental variable. You need to know who has access to local apps beforehand. Also, you should know what permission levels each person has and why they have access.
Ask yourself these questions: What is each employee’s role in accessing the apps? What type of password policies are in place, and how and when is access revoked? Is there tracking of each person’s activities? Many of these functions and policies need to be duplicated or implemented within the cloud.
Access management is a crucial part of maintaining data security and compliance. So are technologies like encryption. Find out what type of connection exists between local apps and the public cloud on third-party platforms. What is the level and type of encryption? Is the connection dedicated, meaning only your organization uses it to transfer data back and forth?
Factor in Long-Term Support
Test the processing speed in real time and monitor the connection’s performance. Is there too much latency, especially during certain periods? What kind of support does the vendor provide for troubleshooting problems and optimizing performance? What about data compliance and security?
You can also ask or research whether support for your on-site apps will end. Find out whether there are recommendations for upgrading or transitioning. Will external vendors help with those changes?
Integrating local and cloud-based applications can benefit your organization in many ways. You’ll increase collaboration and communication between teams. Your company can become more flexible and be quicker to adapt to market changes and competitors. You might even reduce costs and improve customer relationships.
But before you take the plunge, think about your company’s strategy, resources, workload demands and requirements, and internal policies. All of these factors will help you decide the best way to integrate your on-premise apps with the cloud.