Cloud Integrations

Complete guide to
cloud integrations

Organizations of all sizes, from startups and SMBs to large enterprises, are leveraging a plethora of cloud services.

Cloud integrations enable seamless communication between these tools, improving efficiency across your business — and we’ll explore how in this guide.

What are cloud integrations?

As digital transformation continues to push companies from on-premises systems towards cloud computing, organizations increasingly rely on numerous cloud services. However, for business operations to run smoothly, ensuring these services communicate smoothly with one another is essential. That’s where cloud integrations enter the picture.

Cloud integrations are the tools and technologies used to connect all your cloud resources, from compute and storage to apps and services. Broadly speaking, they let you break down information silos, streamline workflows across your stack, and improve operational efficiency through automation of routine tasks. 

Here’s an example. Picture a factory utilizing various IoT (Internet of Things) sensors to monitor machine performance, temperature, and energy consumption. Their output feeds into a cloud-based data warehouse for later analysis. This data is collected, stored, prepared for analysis, and passed to machine learning models that identify trends and patterns. 

From there, automated actions can be taken based on the analysis, for example, generating maintenance alerts if sensor data indicates a potential machine failure. With each step handled by a different application, integrations allow these cloud services to speak to each other and get the job done. 

Ultimately, cloud integration is an incredibly broad topic. With hundreds of cloud services on the market, the possibilities are near endless. You can explore some common cloud integrations use cases below.

  • Data integration

Data integration involves merging data sets from various sources within the cloud, regardless of format or location. Perhaps you’re storing raw data in a service such as Amazon S3, but using Snowflake as a separate data warehouse for analytics. Using cloud integration tools, you can move the raw data from S3 to Snowflake, treating and transforming it enroute so it’s ready for analysis without manual manipulation. This process is called ETL — extract, transform, load — and collates data sources to ensure the structure conforms to technical requirements before being output to another system. 

  • Hybrid cloud integration

Despite the wide proliferation of cloud services, many companies still rely on on-premises applications for certain business processes. For example, an organization might use a cloud-based CRM running on AWS and a legacy on-prem ERP system. Integrating these solutions could involve data replication to keep information synchronized across the hybrid environment, API (application programming interface) integration so the two systems can communicate, and event-driven architecture that lets each system perform actions based on the other. Gartner expects hybrid cloud integration to be increasingly prominent over the next few years, so integrations are fundamental. 

  • Multi-cloud integration

Organizations commonly leverage services from multiple cloud providers to access each platform’s unique strengths, secure favorable pricing, or reduce the risk of vendor lock-in. A business could use Microsoft Azure for storage and Google Cloud for machine learning workloads, for example. Of course, organizations must integrate these multi-cloud environments to facilitate communication and data exchange between services. This is often achieved using a mixture of API integrations, file transfer tools, and multi-cloud management platforms (CMPs) providing a unified view of your entire ecosystem. 

  • Cloud application integration

Connecting various software as a service (SaaS) solutions is another common use case, particularly deploying SaaS integrations to automate workflows and improve productivity. Imagine a company using Salesforce for CRM, HubSpot for marketing, and Zendesk for customer support. With a fully integrated workflow, these cloud-based applications work together smoothly and efficiently. HubSpot captures a new lead and creates an opportunity record within Salesforce, which assigns the opportunity to the relevant salesperson. If the lead converts into a paying customer, Zendesk creates a record and sends a welcome email with onboarding resources.

The benefits of using cloud integrations

No matter the size of your organization, there are myriad benefits to implementing cloud integrations across your stack:

  • Streamlined workflows – Automating data exchange between applications and services eliminates manual data transformation and manipulation. Workflows across platforms can be streamlined for an improved user experience, boosting overall workforce efficiency and giving them more time to work on higher-value activities. 
  • Unified data management – Cloud integrations can help break down information silos by connecting previously isolated data sources. And synchronizing real-time data across all integrated systems minimizes errors and discrepancies. Making decisions based on real-time insights and trends is easier with these centralized data lakes. 
  • Improved collaboration – Integrating your cloud services enables teams and departments to collaborate better thanks to smoother communication and coordination across platforms.
  • Increased scalability – A major advantage of the cloud model is its inherent scalability and agility. Integrations across your services augment this, letting you seamlessly adapt your stack as your business changes or grows.
  • Simplified management – Cloud integration solutions can ease the burden of managing applications and data thanks to centralized dashboards and observability into your stack, saving both time and money. This also promotes greater cloud visibility.

The challenges of using cloud integrations

Although deploying successful cloud integrations across your stack can pay dividends, doing so is rarely plain sailing — especially for more complex cloud environments. Here are some hurdles to consider:

  • Integration complexity – Applications and data sources are rarely uniform regarding aspects like APIs and data structure. These disparate cloud services require significant technical expertise and planning to configure.
  • Data governance – Managing data quality, ownership, and access across integrated systems requires a well-defined governance strategy. 
  • Security and compliance – Ensuring your data remains secure across integration flows can be challenging, especially if you have specific regulations or compliance requirements to meet. 
  • Cost management – While cloud integration services themselves can be costly, it’s also vital to carefully monitor fees associated with data transfer and API calls.
  • Integration failure – Service providers may update or change products and APIs, breaking custom integrations that were costly and time-consuming to implement.
  • Performance – Network bandwidth limitations or inefficient integration designs can lead to performance issues and data transfer delays.

Cloud integrations best practices

Successful cloud integration requires a considered strategy. Here are some best practices to consider before you get started.

  • Define your goals – Off the bat, ensure you have clear idea of the specific business objectives your cloud integrations will achieve. Outline the applications, services, and data sources you intend to connect, alongside the processes or workflows you’d like to automate. Collaborating with stakeholders and employees will ensure the integration benefits everyone. 
  • Establish security measures – Implementing robust security measures, like encryption and access controls with a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), is vital to maintaining the integrity and safety of your data as it moves through the pipelines between your systems.
  • Standardize data formats – Establish consistent data formats to ensure smooth exchange with minimal errors and maximum interoperability across your infrastructure.
  • Design for scalability – Design cloud integrations cwith on-demand scalability in mind. That way, your stack will continue to accommodate future growth in data volume or user demand.
  • Leverage cloud integration platforms – These services can significantly speed up the process of connecting your cloud systems with one another, with some vendors providing access to specialist technical support to walk you through the process.
  • Document everything – Thoroughly documenting your cloud integrations with architecture diagrams, data mapping details, and user guides is essential for ongoing maintenance and troubleshooting.
  • Monitor and optimize – Keep tabs on cloud integration performance to identify potential bottlenecks or areas for improvement. Furthermore, regularly evaluate cloud integrations to ensure they remain aligned with your evolving business objectives.

Get the most from cloud integrations with Vertice

The numerous benefits of cloud integrations are clear, fostering greater efficiency and unification across your cloud stack. But identifying opportunities for integration isn’t always clear — and that’s where Vertice can help. Our Cloud Cost Optimization platform provides full observability into your AWS services and contracts, helping you see where cloud integrations might make sense for your business. 

Furthermore, the Vertice platform can help you reduce spending by intelligently managing reserved instances, running optimization tests on your resources, providing actionable cost-saving recommendations, and generally adhering to Cloud FinOps principles. To get started, get in touch below.

Smarter SaaS Spend

Learn more about Vertice and how we can help your business save on SaaS.

Cloud integrations FAQs