Embracing integration in a cloud-based world

At a time when cloud computing is becoming fundamental to business, the importance of integrating systems effectively cannot be overstated. Petr Havlik, director for CyberPro Consulting, looks at the impact this will have in South Africa.


“Historically in IT, developing software systems and utilising things like business intelligence solutions were considered separate disciplines. However, this has all changed given technology needs to be much more integrated in order to help the decision-maker gain a single view of the operational areas and customers in their business – and ultimately become a more partner-driven business.”


Such an approach reflects a growing shift in a world where companies are looking at expanding their traditional business lines with more value-added offerings. For example, renewing a passport at a bank could never happen without having an integration between multiple parties. The connected world is now seeing organisations playing multiple roles in the lives of their customers.


“Just look at what is happening in the South African landscape. You have telecommunication providers muscling in on the banking space, banks providing all sorts of value-add online offerings, and numerous other companies across a variety of sectors identifying different ways of adding to revenue streams.”


Havlik says that this diversification and working with different business partners provide an organisation with a great platform to be successful in the ‘new world’. However, while integration is topical and relevant, it is certainly not very sexy given its focus on back-end processes and systems.


“The changes that cloud computing bring to the integration landscape can be exciting and frightening at the same time. In the past, integration resulted in significant infrastructure and skills investments needing to take place. Using a cloud platform, such as for example Microsoft’s Azure platform, provides the business with access to a centrally-hosted environment providing those services.”


This gives companies access to a highly available and scalable environment that can be utilised to integrate with their partners. Going the cloud route brings with it significantly lower costs and faster implementation times.


“In certain respects, the benefits of integration are providing traditional-minded businesses the first real use cases for adopting cloud-based systems. Even concerns around security and privacy are being addressed thanks to the strong security measures adopted by cloud providers, although customers must remain cognisant of the facts around data storage in offshore locations.”


And while there is a need for more multinationals to open data centres in South Africa to address the need to keep certain information within the confines of the country, the reality of seeing this happen is still a few years away.


“Irrespective of this, integration is something companies are starting to take more seriously outside of the traditional confines of the IT department. The benefits of doing this effectively cannot be ignored for longer,” Havlik concludes.

Source : The SA Leader


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