Monday, October 31, 2011

Mainframe nearly to the cloud…

Most people know that is one of the first and certainly most successful SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) applications on the market.  One good thing is that Salesforce stores all the data in the cloud and manages it, eliminating the need for their customers to have the skills and the hardware, software, and maintenance costs  to keep it on-premise.  That good thing is also the biggest  downside of SaaS: the concern that the data is stored in the cloud.   Unfortunately,  companies worry about having their data stored off-premise with very little control over its management, security, and perhaps even accessibility. 
Nevertheless, has a huge customer base and offers business functionality important to every business I can think of. While business sectors like financial institutions and healthcare could easily make valuable use of the  functionality of Salesforce and other cloud apps, the risk and regulatory restrictions make storing their data in the cloud impossible.  
These institutions simply cannot make copies of their data or move it to the cloud. The data that is inherent to the functionality of Salesforce may not necessarily be the concern, but often it must be presented to users side-by-side with ancillary data that must come from the company's backend, on-premise systems.

But all is not lost!  Agile Integration Software (AIS) naturally solves this problem by creating federated views from multiple sources and making them available to any application, complete with end user access authentication. Here is the crux of the solution with Salesforce as the example:

1. offers the capability of modifying the screens, so anyone who is conversant in doing that can modify a screen to populate the data from an external source. One option would be to configure it to call a web service when the screen is presented or refreshed.

2.    Within a few minutes, an Agile Integration Software, such as Stone Bond's Enterprise Enabler Virtuoso, can be configured, generating metadata that virtualizes and aligns backend data with Salesforce data, and packages it as a web service compliant with Salesforce. Optionally, this would be a bi-directional (Read/write) connection.

3.    When an end user brings up the Salesforce page, Salesforce calls the web service, and Enterprise Enabler Virtuoso accesses the on-premise data live, aligns it with the relevant Salesforce data, and sends it to Salesforce screen. With the bi-directional option,  data can be entered or corrected on the screen to automatically update not only the Salesforce data, but also the on-premise data, assuming the end user has proper permissions to write back to those systems.

Companies have spent millions of dollars over the last few years trying to do this, and with the Agile Integration Software as the basis, Enterprise Enabler Virtuoso was configured in three weeks to incorporate this Salesforce connectivity. Now it is available off-the-shelf so that anyone can implement it in a few minutes or at most a day. 

The diagrams below depict the data residence and flow where on-premise data is required in a implementation. The first is the common solution where a copy of the on-premise data is made and resides on the Salesforce cloud. I don’t need to tell you the overhead and pervasive concern with doing this.  The second shows the on-premise remaining on-premise, where it belongs, and AIS accessing, federating, and delivering a data view virtually to the Salesforce page.

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