Workday’s Integration Cloud: Why integration isn’t a dirty word anymore

March 28, 2011 Appirio

by Jennifer Taylor

Today, Workday announced their “Integration Cloud Platform” for building and running custom integrations that connect to Workday’s on-demand HR and financial applications. We’ve been working with this platform in our labs for a couple of months now, and are impressed. It demonstrates a couple of important trends for the entire industry:

Integration is different in the cloud
As customers adopt more and more cloud applications, integrating them with their remaining on-premise applications is becoming a critical challenge. When we asked cloud adopters their priorities last year, 77% replied that integrating their cloud and on-premise apps was “important” or “very important”, ranking just behind security and manageability.

But integrating with cloud applications doesn’t have to be as painful as integrating with traditional other on-premise applications. In addition to the innovation in “Cloud-to-Cloud” integration we’ve been driving with our CloudWorks technology, we’ve seen tremendous innovation in what we call “Cloud-to-Ground” integration: first integration delivered as an appliance (e.g., CastIron), then delivered as a service (e.g., Boomi), and now integration embedded with your SaaS solution (e.g., Workday’s Integration Cloud).

Customers will find each of these integration approaches appropriate for different integration challenges, but all represent a big step forward. 61% of cloud adopters say that their cloud applications are easier to integrate, and “cloud solutions are difficult to integrate” was rated the #2 misperception about cloud computing.

Leading cloud apps are becoming “platformy”
Workday’s approach to cloud integration is innovative– they’re bundling an integration platform with their solution, giving developers a tightly integrated environment where they can build, deploy, run, and manage custom integrations.

This is a very different type of “platform” than the application development platforms offered by Salesforce.com or Google, but all represent the same trend towards openness and extensibility. Conventional wisdom is that you can only use SaaS for “vanilla” business processes. As leading cloud applications open up and become more and more “platformy,” this logic is flipped on its head– cloud applications are now far easier to extend to meet specific business requirements than their on-premise cousins.

Ecosystem of innovation
And that leads to the final implication of Workday’s Integration Cloud– the innovative power of a cloud ecosystem. Workday is opening its integration platform to partners to develop and sell packaged and custom integrations. Cloud vendors don’t have to go at it alone– successful cloud providers have all been able to tap an ecosystem of partners to make their customers successful.

That of course, is what gets us most excited about Workday’s Integration Cloud– the opportunity to build the integrations required to make our enterprise customers successful as they move their core HR and financial applications to the cloud. Let the innovation begin!

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