Whether you have just started your move to the Cloud or if your company was an early adopter of Cloud computing, at some point we all face the integration challenge. SaaS platforms such as Salesforce.com have seen numerous companies building integrations to seamlessly integrate their product with other platforms. But what about all of the areas of your company that are still silo’d in disparate systems?
Integrations come in many flavors; there are tools that are fairly simple like data loading programs which will prompt you through the creation of simple queries, to more complex and robust tools such as those provided by companies like Informatica and Talend, even custom integrations built by developers through a Web Services API. Each of these methods has their pros and con’s and choosing the right solution for your company is the key to success.
The first and easiest solution is to choose products, which provide an out-of-the-box integration with your Cloud-Based systems. For example companies such as Constant Contact, LinkedIn and FedEx offer integrations with some CRM systems. Other integration applications, built by 3rd party developers, offer a quick and easy way to integrate single programs such as QuickBooks. While this is the easiest and often one of the least costly methods of integrating your systems, it is also the least flexible. You will only be able to integrate area’s that are predefined and in most instances there is no way to customize these applications to fit your specific business processes.
The second method is to use an integration tool such as Informatica or Talend to provide a way of getting data from multiple locations such as enterprise systems, mainframes, other clouds and even desktop systems. This is a better option for companies that have complex integration needs, which are driven by rapidly changing business processes. With these tools advanced administrators or developers have the ability to move data between different systems. For example you may want to move data from a SQL database into your Salesforce SOQL database, import spreadsheet data from users desktops and get actuals from your ERP system.
The three major differences between Informatica and Talend’s integration tools are features, pricing and support. Informatica is a paid utility that offers an entire suite of products as well as extensive customer support. Talend offers fewer features, is free because it is a community developed open source program, and offers less extensive support.
Another option to purchasing integrated products or integration tools from another company, which may mean a significant recurring fee, companies may choose to use Developers to write custom integrations. This option is especially useful for companies with business processes that are fairly consistent, which allows integration points to remain static. While there is usually a higher upfront fee to building custom integrations, the long term cost savings compared to a perpetual use fee model can be significant.