Cloud Computing And The Integration Quagmire

Bob Evans| Forbes

While cloud computing’s popularity as a powerful and transformational business tool is soaring, some companies have been frustrated with cloud apps procured from multiple vendors requiring extensive integration that has dragged out time to value, stunted innovation initiatives, and reinforced the very silos those cloud apps were intended to break down, a new survey has found.

Called Cloud for Business Managers: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, the report reveals that a fragmented approach to cloud apps has led many companies into their very own troughs of disillusionment, in which the hoped-for increased business agility, nimbleness, and optimized decision-making continue to remain beyond their reach.

The irony, of course, is that many of those companies turned to the cloud precisely to get beyond those limitations. What they found, however, is that by deploying the new promise of cloud computing within the old IT framework of integrating lots of disparate pieces, those benefits have been diluted and delayed.

In theory, that approach sounds great: buy point-solution apps from a variety of cloud-application vendors in the hopes of obtaining attractive pricing along with perhaps some best of breed technologies. But that’s turned out to be something of a milkshake-and-two-doughnuts snack: looked real good up front, but feels pretty awful afterward.

The study was conducted by independent research firm Dynamic Markets across 1,355 business managers worldwide (Oracle ORCL -0.33% funded the study). And note how many of these findings mesh with the growing frustration among business customers that are growing weary of the tech industry’s inside-baseball debates, which I described in a recent column called The New and Dangerous Threat to Cloud Computing. Here are some highlights from the survey:

  • 54% of respondents said they’d experienced staff downtime in the past 6 months due to integration problems with their cloud apps;
  • 52% said they had missed business deadlines because of poor integration of disparate cloud apps from multiple vendors;
  • 75% said their innovation initiatives were stunted by integration problems as cloud apps and related workflows were disconnected from essential and related business functions; and,
  • A stunning 64% said they were unable to integrate their cloud apps with other enterprise apps.

In a press release announcing the survey findings, Oracle VP of product marketing Rex Wang said, “Cloud applications have the power to dramatically improve business performance while reducing costs, but only if they can work across the business. For example: sales managers need to have their territory planning and quota-management tools integrated with the Human Resource and Compensation applications in order to better drive behavior and achieve sales goals.”

The key to achieving true business value, Wang added, lies in the ability of a company to exploit its cloud apps not just within a narrow departmental silo but across functional units enterprise-wide.

“Subscribing to a cloud-based service may be relatively straightforward, but how this application fits in with the rest of the enterprise, including on-premise systems and other cloud applications, must be thought through,” said Wang.

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