Switching magically between worlds
Have you ever read a book that takes place in more than one universe or watched a movie in which characters travel between past, present, and future? Think of Harry Potter approaching the Hogwarts Express via London King’s Cross train station to get over to the world of wizards, or Connor McLeod traveling through the centuries and fighting back the baddies in seamless cuts between the Highlands and New York.
The seamless flow from one scene to the next and the logic of the mechanisms that transport characters between worlds is a fundamental success factor for these kinds of books and movies. If the characters’ travel didn’t make sense, we would be lost and uninterested. We are drawn into stories when the transition logic works well and gates to the future or past are built into the real world with everyday objects.
This analogy often comes to mind when I talk to customers about the cloud. Just as we expect creative and smooth transitions in books and movies, cloud users expect a seamless flow between cloud applications and on-premise or third party cloud–but it’s hard to achieve.
integration & interoperability
are the #2 cloud-related pain point (following security), as stated in many research articles like this one recently published in Forbes about
Integration & interoperability are valid concerns, as cloud vendors often are only able to offer limited:
We are running the first three miles of a marathon in cloud computing, so there are not many companies in the market who can show successful integration projects on large scale yet.
The early cloud entrepreneurs have been and are still pure cloud vendors. They reflect neither the customer´s on-premise history nor the need to safeguard existing investments–consequently, they prefer a “rip and replace” strategy over integration.
A single hand to shake.
Very few vendors deliver cloud (SaaS) solutions + integration tools + integration content + extensibility platform (PaaS) as a unified solution.
(SAP is an exception.)
Why integration & interoperability matter
Companies need to avoid information islands and fragmented processes in cloud solutions. Losing enterprise context while moving into the cloud is not an option. Integration across solution boundaries is necessary to prevent application silos. It requires a strategy that encompasses cloud as well as other on-premise solutions. Business users and cloud vendors are acknowledging and responding to this need–a recent survey from
shows that 67% of CIOs using cloud applications have already adopted some hybrid tools integrating cloud and on-premise solutions.
Integration is necessary to both business users and IT.
Business Users Perspective
Interoperability and integration offer a single source of truth and accurate data; business users can rely on what they see and spend meetings talking about facts and real-time measurements instead of about doubts about data reliability. Faster insights and better decision-making capabilities are what businesses want and need to achieve.
A large enterprise runs, on average, between 1,000 and 2,000 applications. Some of the applications will go into the cloud, some are already there, and some may never be migrated. Enterprises adopt SaaS today primarily for commoditized processes such as CRM (Lead2Opportunity, but not Opportunity2Cash), procurement, and HCM (full HCM suite). Companies do not differentiate these processes from their competition and see a value in standardization and best practice sharing. But IT needs to manage governance and control for all of these processes regarding:
Data security, privacy, and compliance
Support of complex landscapes
Control of data flows
Processes working end-to-end
Choice of integration technology
End-to-end monitoring and support
What does it require to interoperate cloud solutions?
It is important to separate cloud on-boarding from interoperability.
One-time initial data load from existing systems to the cloud solution
follows on-boarding with continuous upkeep to ensure data is sincrenated and processes are integrated.
is clearly superior to the traditional “rip-and-replace” or “stitch-together-with-other-middle ware” approach that many pure cloud vendors take to cloud solutions.
What you should look for in a cloud vendor
Point-to-point integration for simpler and highly standardized integration scenarios
Integration services that connect systems with pre-packaged integration content in a pure cloud deployment
Option to leverage existing infrastructure: On-premise technology and data services with pre-packaged integration content for OnPremise2Cloud via pre-packaged and rapid-deployment solutions
Open for re-use of third-party integration providers via a partnership for specific integration scenarios
Option to use further third-party integration platforms using our open certification program
Is your cloud vendor considering all of the above? No? Then run away, fast.
SAP cloud for customer
– A large industrial manufacturer with multiple subsidiaries on different SAP ERP clients needed third-party ERP installations integrated into the flow. The main challenge has been the very tight time frame to achieve a rapid implementation with a small team to integrate accounts, materials, sales quotes, and sales orders.
SAP Cloud for people
– A large manufacturing company with SAP ERP, multiple legacy HR, and financial applications worldwide. The goal was a migration from the existing legacy HR system.
120+ third-party interfaces – Integration of third-party cloud solutions
to SAP Employee Central (EC) and EC Payroll
100% of SAP-to-SAP integration and 30% of total number of required integration covered by prepackaged integration (iFlows)
We learned many lessons with each customer, but the most important has been this co-innovation approach. This is why some SAP cloud releases are up to 80% based on customer feedback: we learn together, and we learn fast.
The SAP cloud portfolio has been designed to serve the hybrid cloud reality. We bring SaaS, integration tools, and integration content together to ensure interoperability for our customers. At the same time, it delivers on line-of-business AND IT expectations to make them operate together in the cloud.
Focus on interoperability and your business will meet its goals. For further information, download our
In the closing scene of
Queen’s “A kind of magic” plays. Cloud integartion and interoperability may sound like magic, but it´s simply the result of four decades of co-innovation between SAP and its leading enterprise business software customers.
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Notes: Original blog appeared on SAP SCN community.