Piecing together a completely modernized IT infrastructure is a much more involved process than simply switching out a few servers and storage units and beefing up network capacity. Even if you have virtualized your entire IT environment, there may still be many end user demands that you have yet to address. More often than not, these shortcomings will be found in the area of app integration, which as you will discover is closely linked with the overarching objectives of your organization and the underlying trends affecting end user experiences across departments.
Many apps, one main mission
If you have struggled to create an application ecosystem that efficiently and cost-effectively addresses goals throughout the agency, you aren't alone - orchestrating a lean yet impactful set of integrated apps is a persistent task involving teams from the executive board to customer-facing roles. Although you may have found success accomplishing these tasks with legacy systems, chances are the inclusion of cloud computing solutions has altered the foundations of your architecture, requiring that you reevaluate the systems that support your applications and workflow.
With a clunky network layout, delivering consistent, high-quality app experiences can be a chore for IT administrators and end users alike, not to mention it will leave customers dissatisfied with false value propositions or a lack of coordination. With so much at stake, it is more important than ever to prioritize the integration of these services across the enterprise, especially as more devices, sensors and platforms make their way into the IT picture. According to a recent article from Enterprise Apps Today, CIOs face increasingly challenging circumstances in light of these shifting factors.
For instance, consider the widespread adoption of software suites such as enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and custom content development tools. Then, think about the high level of interactivity that must occur between these environments, as well as the wide range of devices and channels that data needs to be processed through in order to ensure optimal app delivery. These are only a few of the challenges that come into play when integrating applications on an enterprise scale - between compliance, security and end user policies, there are countless more, as well.
Flexibility - why the cloud will win
With so many obstacles to overcome, it's easy to become discouraged when confronted with the demands of a tightly integrated business environment. Thankfully, the cloud serves as an ideal platform for constructing a fully modernized network, complete with apps and channels that work in a cohesive environment. As Enterprise Apps Today pointed out, sticking with legacy assets for much longer could leave your infrastructure stumbling into the next generation of apps, unable to keep pace with the cloud-optimized tools that have become so common in the enterprise space.
"In the cloud you can integrate one app to another, and you don't need to install anything. The effort is far less than it used to be, and that is very, very important," Stefan Ried, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, told the source. "If you try and add systems of engagement functionality to your old systems of record, you'll probably find that it can't be done because they are not flexible enough to accommodate that."
Virtualizing servers and storage units is an intuitive process that many IT leaders have already embraced, so reinforcing that transition with the adoption of off-premise app delivery is another logical step in the right direction. You have likely already enjoyed the flexibility and efficiency of your migrated physical assets - why not take things further into the cloud by bringing apps along?
Remember: Proceed with caution
While you shouldn't limit yourself when it comes to pursuing new and innovative ways to integrate applications, there are a handful of precautions you should take into consideration when coordinating an all-out leap to the cloud, especially if your networks harbor sensitive data and can't afford lengthy downtime. The Next Web recently offered a few tips to ensure you begin your cloud app integration projects on the right foot, suggesting that these recommendations can serve to future-proof your infrastructure for years to come.
- Strengthen failover measures for every app: You never know when a natural disaster or human error can bring your network to its knees, so leverage backup environments in an effort to promote stronger business continuity.
- Be ready to support leftover legacy assets: An IT strategy doesn't have to be 100 percent cloud-based, especially if you have perfectly functional systems on-premise. Just be prepared to give these assets the support they need to thrive.
- Prioritize real-time data availability: What use is data to end users if they are uncertain about its relevancy or timeliness? Make sure every application in your ecosystem synchronizes on an automated basis to deliver the most value possible. Systems must update accurately and in real-time for true integration.