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How to select a cloud integration platform?

There are a wide range of methods and cloud based integration platforms for managing software and service integrations, from hobbling the together with bits of code to investing in third parties to provide integrations and managed services.

At either end of the spectrum you have different risks; at the ‘DIY’ end you have huge issues around breakages and outages. Then at the other extremity, you have huge cost and "un-leavable" contracts. Neither solution are fit for purpose in modern business, so… what do you?

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How are you managing integrations right now?

Have a look at your existing integrations and get an assessment together of what is holding your various applications and services together. Some integrations will be pretty well designed and handled and others will be a mess. There will also be a number of connections that you wish were integrations, but are actually just people emailing each other and moving data round in spreadsheets and so on.

But, and honest assessment is really important. This is because you need to know where to start in terms of prioritising the integrations you build upon, create or re-create next. Starting with the integrations that generate the most business value and impact first, is where we often urge IT leaders to begin. However, this process of implementing integrations or indeed, a whole new approach to integration also needs to come from a place of make small and manageable changes first.  

When it comes to selecting a solution, your choices will be heavily informed by your priorities and existing integrations, so getting an early assessment of what is currently being managed and how, is vital to your success.

How many integrations are managed by hand?

Yes, handmade integrations are risky to the business and traditionally they are difficult to automate or shift to a fit for purpose integration platform. But with more modern, next generation tools such as Integration Automation Platforms this is no longer anywhere near as tricky. In fact, you can normally get these out of their scrappy code-bases and into a high performing integration solution within a day or so now. Because we see handmade integrations as usually the highest risk out outage and breaking, we often encourage and promote prioritising the automation and onboarding of these connections first.

But this also needs to be weighed up against the business value those integrations actually create. Another reason for turning your focus to these integrations, is because they are normally harder to find too! They are often hidden in Sys-Admin machines and folders and need a bit more digging around to identify. So, get these well-documented and prioritised BEFORE you make a big commitment to a new integration solution.  

How many integrations are not integrations at all?

As mentioned, some integrations acre actually going to be just ‘conversations’ right now. These are SUPER frustrating to find as it requires a lot of discussion and research, working out how people and teams are currently passing information from one system or department to another, without the use of a software integration. But these ‘out-of -scope’ integrations can often create the most business value once automated and managed correctly, as you can genuinely and visibly free people to focus on more important work.

This is a winning tactic both from a productivity point of view, but also for staff-happiness, because they get to remove (mostly likely) unwanted tasks from their daily routines. So, before specifying your needs for a new tool in too much detail, ensure you’ve done a bit of leg work around identifying integrations… that are not actually integrations at all!

Don’t choose a solution that over-relies on API’s

If you thought relying in people to look after those all-important exchanges of data was risky, wait until you’ve built your ecosystem upon a stick house of API’s. For years, businesses saw ‘does this have an API’ as a golden ticket for a successful integration.

But in reality, API’s are nowhere near smart or flexible enough to hold together a complex set of integrations. In a healthy and high-performing ecosystem of integrations data and information exchange is a many-to-many and multi-directional practice. And, is flexible enough to turn integrations on and off, or quickly switch to alternative configurations instantly. None of which can be achieved by system built upon API’s alone. Using Cloud Integration Hubs or Integration Automation Platform, which predominantly pre-built connectors for the applications you are using, are a far more scalable and robust solution.   

Getting started with an next generation cloud integration platform

Integration Automation Platforms are a faster, more effective and highly scalable solutions for managing large networks of integrated services. When using for example ONEiO as your integration automation platform, you only pay for the connections that you use, so you are able to manage your costs in a predictable way.

Using subscription payments also removes the need for any large up-front costs. This makes ONEiO a much more competitive option than a high time and cost setup solution such as a traditional iPaaS solution or using a third-party managed service. 

Read more: 3 most common mistakes when setting up cloud integrations, and how to avoid them. 

Get in touch

If you would like to learn more about implementing smarter, more flexible and cost-effective solutions for managing your integrations, or would like support selecting an approach to software and service integration, get in touch with our expert team of integration specialists today. We are always happy and interested to hear about your integration goals. Book a 15 minutes assessment toda

Read more:

iPaaS is obsolete. The next generation iPaaS automates integrations

The Now and future of integration platforms