The evolution of integrations from custom projects to cloud solutions
6 June, 2017
Today, you can handle integrations in the cloud, where building and maintaining them takes a fraction of the effort that used to be required. Even better, you can repurpose them.
Traditionally, systems integration was a complicated, lengthy, and expensive endeavor. It involves careful analysis of the source and target systems that are to exchange data. You document the applicable business rules and project how your integration should behave, and create an inventory of the involved data types, their structure and components. Then you write a program that transforms the data so they become consumable in another than the source system. You engineer a data transfer mechanism and perform diligent testing to validate the solidity of your integration under various workloads.
In this approach, every step is unique. The integration is at the level of an extensive customization. When systems need to be upgraded to a new version, it may need to be re-created at least in part, adding to IT’s workload and cost. Similarly, when business requirements change, your custom-built integration may not be able to keep up, and needs to be rebuilt or replaced.
Streamlining integrations with ETL and configuration
Integrations became more standardized when technologists redesigned extract, transform, load (ETL) integration tools, used in enterprise database integrations for decades, for the systems integrations needed in many businesses. Technology providers sold integrations as software products that IT departments could deploy.
In a further development, some technology innovators realized that integration was a strategic concern that should not be the sole responsibility of IT. They streamlined their standard integrations with configuration utilities that greatly simplified mapping and many other tasks involved in integrations and data migrations. Without worrying about underlying data models, even savvy business users could configure integrations and data migrations that met their success criteria.
Easy integration utilities in the cloud
When cloud technology matured, standard integrations became available on cloud platforms, where companies could benefit from the scalability, economy, and security provided by cloud service providers. With more intuitive interfaces and dashboards, standard, cloud-based integrations are easy to set up and adjust to changing business needs. Along with new system versions and other upgrades, standard integrations in the cloud can also be easily updated as part of a company’s subscription.
With Microsoft Dynamics 365 on the Azure cloud, integrations are more straight-forward yet. Using turnkey APIs, integrations with other Azure-based applications are either easily created and configured, or available in standard versions for immediate implementation. Connecting Dynamics 365 in the cloud with on-premise systems is not much more complicated.
Companies can also use Microsoft Flow to connect apps and services on Azure as well as on-premise, and can thereby already handle some of their integration needs in a simple manner. In addition, Columbus integration solutions are already certified for use with Microsoft Dynamics 365 on Azure or rapidly going through the process.
When standardized, configurable integrations become available in the cloud, they go through a similar boost in usability, robustness, and versatility as other applications. You can put them to work to support your digital business transformation.
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