Enterprise Cloud Computing Application Software, Integration, SaaS Cloud Solutions & Cloud Consulting Support Services
For the last several years G&G is helping small and midsize businesses in cloud computing applications software development, SaaS and mobile cloud computing solutions design, integration and providing consulting and support services. Enterprise application development using traditional software is often quite slow, complex and expensive. The entire infrastructure requires constant maintenance to keep it working smoothly and the overhead burden hinders productivity of custom application software development. In a complex computing environment even minor changes can result in unwanted consequences throughout the organization, significantly reducing the overall IT responsiveness and as a result the ability of a company to respond to constantly changing business needs is hampered. The process of enterprise application development slows down significantly and business managers don’t get the application required to run their businesses. Instead, they have to deal with a flurry of individual systems on spread sheets, personal databases, or other unsupported platforms.
Cloud computing has been able to solve much of these problems as applications that run in the “cloud” are delivered as a service which means companies don’t have to buy and maintain hardware and software to run them, or keep huge IT teams to manage and maintain complicated deployments. Applications are developed and run entirely on the web. Through the web, developers can be from all over the world can get access to an application development environment with all the necessary tools and resources. They can develop complete enterprise applications without the cost and complexity of buying and maintaining an on-premises development infrastructure. With the ability to quickly build and instantly deploy solutions, developers can reduce application development cycle time, respond to user requests with greater speed, and deliver the IT agility required to take advantage of fast-breaking business opportunities.
Companies are using the cloud platform to build applications across the entire range of business functions and industries. Applications are developed for:
- Supply chain management
- Billing, audit, tax calculation
- Event management
- Compliance tracking
- Brand management
- Pricing, billing
- Accounts receivable, accounts payable
- Employee on-boarding
- Payment processing, claims processing
- Human Resources (HR)
Cloud-based Storage Solutions
Cloud storage offers virtually unlimited storage capacity to help developers dramatically reduce costs and operational complexity while improving long term compliance. Cloud storage providers use multi-tenant architecture to share the infrastructure costs across many users and deliver significant cost reduction to any IT environment struggling with data management. Compared to this, any on-site solution will have to face higher expenditure as they require additional provisioning, power, cooling costs, and much more. Cloud storage providers also offer compliance, disaster recovery and data backup solutions to help solve data management problems. More easily accessible than offline vaulted data, cloud-based data storage assists in the following ways:
- Eliminates the need to expand data centre capacity or operational costs.
- Stale data can be archived in cloud-based storage to free up existing space within the data centre.
- Provide cost effective disaster recovery for small and medium sized enterprises without large upfront and operational investment.
Cloud Integration in the Traditional Model of Application Development
Applications usually run on multiple systems in multiple locations using multiple databases and files where functions like data, infrastructure, networks, and users are all distributed. As a result the integration processes also needs to be distributed, executing in any number of places where the execution of the system is required.
In the traditional model of software building, a standalone application is first built and then copies of that application is sold separately. This approach is known as the multi-instance, single tenant application, where multiple copies are made of the same application with no shared resources. The obvious disadvantage of this model is the fact that as the number of copies and versions of the application increase, the support cost increases and there is almost no time and resource left for the developers to deliver new features and functionality. The end customers are also faced with significant amount of problems trying to maintain their copy of the application with new releases, updates and code patches. Enterprises are forced to spend 80% of their resources on maintaining current application systems and only 20% on new systems.
When this approach is applied in data and application integration, it generates complexities like security and governance challenges. The functions included with integration include designing and building the integration process, deploying the integration, executing the integration, and eventually the process of continuous monitoring and management. The execution of the integration needs to be distributed at multiple points across the enterprise and all of the other functions, like administrative functions, should be centralized. In the traditional model of developing software, all administrative and execution functionality is built into one product. The customer would be required to purchase a copy of an integration product for each instance where an integration process needed to run within the enterprise. In order to meet the business requirements, a large enterprise could be running 20 copies or more of these integration stacks to meet their business requirement. As a result of the above scenario, not only was the necessary runtime distributed across the enterprise, the functionality to build, deploy and manage the integration processes was also replicated. So instead of an centralized administrative and management function, multiple instances weakened governances and controls. This style of software development and deployment results in a number of integration challenges like version control, data visibility, audit-ability, policy enforcement, and governance.
The Cloud Computing Saas Model
The SaaS model is an entirely different approach towards application design and delivery. In this model, there is only one copy which any number of customers can use and customize their unique needs, one shared application with shared resources for multiple customers. This is generally called the single-instance, multi tenant. This model allows for considerable focus on the designing the application and multi-tenancy allows for all the advantages of SaaS like, rapid deployment times, faster innovation cycles and ultra-low cost structure. With only one copy of application to be maintained, the maintenance-development ratio is shifted by a large extent. Customization of each tenant are maintained as extensions, and automatically re-applied as and when the applications are updated. In this model, when an application is changed, and the change is deployed, all customers are updated in lock step, with little or no effort required from the customer personnel. A single code base exists across all customers and this frees up significant developer time to focus on new features and functions. This productivity boost have resulted in the continuous innovation cycle of the SaaS.
These concepts, when applied to the domain of data and application integration, generates an entirely new and vastly more efficient delivery model, even without using SaaS applications. Cloud-based integration platforms allow developers to design, build, monitor, and manage integrations centrally from the cloud, and deploy just the runtime to where the integration needs to occur, be it in the cloud or on premise. Separating the runtime, and at the same time unifying the administrative and management functions, significantly reduces the unwanted complexity. All these dramatically increase the quality of collaboration, component re-use, data visibility and control, policy standardization and enforcement, configuration management, monitoring, auditing/validation and reporting. Also, as the cloud integration platforms are built with SaaS technology and concepts, they deliver the same benefits as SaaS applications. These include:
- Significantly reduced cost structure
- No integration products to install and maintain
- Automatic upgrades
- Usage based pricing
- Global connectivity and access
Using a cloud-based integration platform to address the current on premise integration requirements has an extra benefit. It can position the enterprise to support the adoption of cloud and SaaS based applications in the future. But SaaS applications have introduced a new set of integration complexities which are not supported by legacy integration products. These complexities include enabling cloud to on-premise work flows without the need for special firewall configuration (and thereby introducing security vulnerabilities) and handling the dynamic nature of complex APIs. With a cloud integration platform, applications and data sources outside your firewalls can easily be added to an existing portfolio using the same distributed runtime, centralized management framework.