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Leveraging Information and Intelligence

David Linthicum

Why Data Integration is Critical to Cloud Computing

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While the interest in cloud computing is at a fever pitch, the use of cloud computing brings up some fundamental questions, such as how we're going to drive data integration between the on-premise systems and the emerging use of the cloud. You can either be proactive or reactive.

Truth be told, data integration is often an afterthought, and cloud computing is no exception to that. Typically, those moving to cloud computing understand the need once the data is housed on remote cloud computing platforms and there's a desire to share or synchronous data between them. This is usually followed by a quick tactical solution, which has no long term value, usually replaced at some point later.

You should approach data integration with cloud computing in one of two ways.

First, with the understanding that integration is systemic to the solution; thus, you need to design integration into the architecture. This is the optimal approach, but one that enterprises often don't employ due budget and resource limitations (and I've heard many other excuses as well).

Second, with the ability to design and create a data integration solution that is retrofitted into the cloud computing solution. This isn't optimal, but it's how many approach integration. It's just a matter of understanding the source and target data and how to deal with semantic mediation, connections and the right integration technology to make this happen.

Often overlooked here are security and governance, which, of course, both need to be part of the data integration solution.

The fact of the matter is that without data integration, cloud-based systems won't provide the value you're seeking. Indeed, they may not be cost-effective at all. Processes span on premise and cloud-delivered systems; if the integration with the data doesn't exist, those processes can't exist either.

Many of the enterprises out there moving quickly to cloud computing need to get a clue.


Data integration is critical to the cloud, I would entirely agree. Nevertheless, business process integration and orchestration is equally important.
I believe that, in the end, Enterprise Architecture becomes even more important in the Cloud context, particularly the business architecture. EA would be used to document and support the transition to the Cloud.

I completely agree. Data integration is critical. Not much would work without it and it is vital for enterprises to explore data integration options when in the cloud as well. And, in most cases, it is usually an afterthought. So, does it really matter whether you plan for integration up front or deal with it later? Probably not in the long run, because in the cloud the total costs of integration are driven by the amount of change to the connected systems – and that is hard to predict. It’s probably more important to determine at what point integration can be implemented reliably. My blog provides more insight: http://cs.pervasive.com/blogs/data_integration_blog/archive/2009/09/24/cloud-isolation.aspx

Industry expert Dave Linthicum tells you what you need to know about building efficiency into the information management infrastructure

David Linthicum

David Linthicum is the CTO of Blue Mountain Labs, and an internationally known distributed computing and application integration expert. View more


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