This partner post comes from Tom Kelly, Partner at Cumula 3 Group.
As a Cloud Advisory and NetSuite Solution Provider, we’re often asked by clients whether to commit to a single application suite or deploy best-of-breed applications and integrate them. This has been a source of contention for years for CIOs and business users trying to determine which approach delivers the greatest value to an organization. Balancing cost, feature set, deployment time and on-going maintenance for a set of applications is no easy feat. And now that the cloud has reached maturity, this balancing act is getting more complicated. Here are a couple of points we’ve found important to keep in mind when moving from on-premise suites to pick-and-choose cloud integration.
The cloud accelerates connectivity
Not only does the cloud enable flexible API-based application architecture so that integrations can be deployed faster and more cost effectively than ever, but cloud applications are now being built with APIs in mind as well. This makes it easy for companies to extend APIs to developers, who then deliver additional feature rich functionality back to end users, benefitting both the software vendor and end users.
With the advent of the cloud, the internet acts as a form of middleware, allowing department heads to select applications from a variety of software vendors and connect them through APIs or cloud integration platforms to create their “own” application suite that meets the needs of their user communities and can be deployed in a matter of weeks, not months or years.
The cloud simplifies customization
As the world shifts towards a subscription-based economy, connected cloud applications are becoming more affordable and aligning more closely with user needs and demand than legacy on-premise applications ever could. CIOs and business users are no longer limited to implementing an expensive suite of modules from a single vendor that may be tightly integrated, but doesn’t satisfy the needs of every department. Instead, they can simply pick and choose the applications that best meet their needs, then connect those applications with ease.
Cloud connectivity has also ended the days of expensive consultants camping out in the conference room for months on end, never-ending hardware refreshes, and enormous service agreements. Now, simple cloud connections lead to high application adoption rates, happy end users, and IT teams that are empowered to add high-value services back to the business instead of spending excessive time and money to maintain the status quo.
A few cautions when entering the cloud
Although optimal, a cloud-first approach isn’t without its faults. Most large companies still have legacy systems in place that require maintenance, and integrating these with cloud systems can require some work and expense. However, connectivity platforms like Jitterbit enable companies to connect their best-of-breed cloud applications with legacy on-premise applications quickly and easily, with strong confidence in the data.
As the cloud continues to evolve, companies should take care to avoid simply replicating legacy on-premise suites in the cloud. Oracle alone has spent over $7 billion acquiring best-of-breed cloud based applications between 2013 and 2015, and I suspect we’ll continue to see legacy software vendors attempt to buy their way into the cloud computing space by acquiring leading SaaS applications. We’re also seeing top SaaS providers buying and building their way into neighboring product areas to expand their footprint, like Salesforce moving beyond CRM into Marketing Automation (ExactTarget and Pardot) and Customer Service (Assistly and Desk.com), or Workday going past HCM into financial management and even SCM applications, bumping up against the likes of ERP solutions such as NetSuite and Oracle Financials Cloud. While many of these suites will surely be useful, companies need to maintain cloud agility by focusing on the best solution, not simply what’s included.
For CIOs and business leaders, the cloud is a dream come true, offering the ability to tailor a custom suite of best-in-class applications from multiple vendors. This is a fairly new concept, and we at Cumula 3 Group get great satisfaction from helping clients explore their options and learn how to tie cloud applications to deliver against their strategic goals and objectives – always allowing business needs, not software limitations, to drive connections in the cloud.
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This guest post comes from Tom Kelly, Partner at Cumula 3 Group, a NetSuite Solution Provider and Jitterbit partner offering cloud expertise and services to Fortune 500 and private equity-backed companies. Tom has more than 26 years of strategic and tactical business experience. As a CFO and CIO, he was a pioneer in using cloud technologies beginning in the late 1990s and has helped spearhead cloud implementations at more than 100 companies.