Cloud Integration Strategy
Many of our clients are looking to my team for guidance on cloud services, applications, and transport. Some of the questions asked are, what should be in the cloud, how does it integrate and how do I get there? The most common question of all is, how can we control costs?
Cloud services and applications that were once bleeding or cutting edge have become mainstream and I am not just talking about cloud compute. Seemingly everything in the communication and compute world has a cloud connection or application. Most services and applications have all or some aspect of their product in the cloud. Flashback to 10 years ago, services and applications were primarily kept within their technology and physical location. Today everything is integrated or have API’s. This is causing a strategy issue for companies and organizations. For example, some are wondering if MS O365 integrates with their voice platform, or if they should look at options that would accommodate that, such as upgrading to E5 licenses. Employees may favor Google Drive or Box over MS One Drive and companies question which to standardize on. Recently, a client asked me how Fuze, Calabrio and Five9 would integrate if they were utilized within the same organization. Most of these technologies mentioned are intertwined. However, choosing the overall correct technology path for an organization can be tricky and potentially costly.
We have been told for years that cloud services and applications can connect to each other through open API’s, but this strategy has its flaws. While having an open API is one thing, building a working model off that API is another. For example, there are many reasons why CCaaS providers like inContact, Five9, and Genesys are now owned by, developed, or have purchased WFO/WFM providers. The data flow and integration of an API was not meeting client requirements and the merger of these two technologies was inevitable. Integration between technologies must have a proven track record. Just by saying there is an open API does not mean anything has been built, tested, and proved out to be a solid integration. Also, companies should not rely solely on API’s being available long term. Multiple times, we have seen competing companies purchase supporting technologies and discontinue or limit API’s to their competition, thereby leaving businesses stranded. It is extremely important to roadmap out dependencies and how integration takes place.
Connecting to cloud applications and services is a basic concept, you just need an Internet or private connection. While this is important, having Internet redundancies is vital for a cloud strategy to work. Redundancies with seamless (packetized) fail-over is required and should be over separate media. For example, if your first Internet connection is over fiber, it is important to use coax, microwave, 4G/5G as your second medium and connection. In a perfect world, a second fiber provider coming into the location through a separate entrance facility would be optimal. Internet transport connections need to be configured in a way where there is packetized fail-over between the connections. This is traditionally accomplished with SD WAN technology.
Controlling costs and Cloud sprawl can be difficult, as cloud services and applications are largely dependent on each other and are quickly scalable. We have found success in controlling costs using a “single pane of glass” solution to see the full picture of your environment or the use of Expense Management (EM) providers. The single pane of glass gives IT and Finance visibility on what they are paying for, what the dependencies are, and where their cost for services reside. This results in a solid process for scaling services and their associated costs.
No matter what your strategy is for cloud services and applications, spend time determining dependencies and how your overall organization can control the environment. Senior leadership will appreciate your due diligence.