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Data Integration in a Hybrid Cloud Environment

Companies large and small often use a combination of public and private cloud services operating together in a hybrid environment. This type of hybrid environment will become the standard way companies run IT in the future.

When a company selects a hybrid path, the company takes on the responsibility for integration, security, manageability, and governance of the composite environment — including the public services that are included. If a problem arises with the public cloud provider, the responsibility lies with the private cloud provider, not the public service provider.

Now that you have a sense of the different types of cloud services, it’s time to think about how you bring services together — essentially, to integrate those services — to create a hybrid next-generation computing environment that offers the flexibility and cost control organizations are beginning to demand. Standards will have to emerge so that there is a consistent approach to integration across a hybrid computing environment.

The most common way organizations create hybrid environments is through integration at the data level. Integrating information across multiple public- and private-based siloed data sources can be challenging, even if all your information assets are tightly controlled in an internal data center. However, when you begin to incorporate data from public cloud sources, the complexity of the integration process increases. The integrity of your information is at great risk unless you’re able to consistently integrate across your hybrid environment.

Information is the heart of how companies differentiate themselves from competitors. Companies must approach cloud integration with these fundamental concepts of information management in mind:

  • To truly innovate, you need a complete understanding of all the information about your customers, partners, and suppliers.

  • You need a full understanding of all aspects of your relationship with your value chain. This information has to be accurate, timely, and in the right context.

  • You need to gain an understanding of what your customers are buying or the status of orders.

  • You must understand what your customers and partners are saying and how satisfied they are with your products and services.

In addition, your customers and partners need to trust the shared information. These collective information assets must be secured and managed according to business, governmental, and industry rules and regulations.

In many ways, the need for integration remains the same as it has been for decades — providing an organization with a clear understanding of the transactions, services, and other critical information about the business. Different business departments typically use applications designed specifically to support their unique business processes. These applications are likely to have unique and independent sources of data.

Regardless of the technical means used to integrate data across these systems — whether in the data center or in private or public clouds — business and IT must collaborate to identify inconsistencies in data definitions and apply best practices to maintaining the quality of its data. For example, prior to integrating data across internal data sources, IT may need to account for variability in data definitions, data formats, and data lineage (like a family tree for the data element), how that data is derived, and its relationship to other data elements.

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