Many companies talk about cloud integration in a theoretical way. But cloud technologies aren’t theoretical. They’re a rapidly growing segment of technology that’s changing the way businesses operate.

In the following article, we move from theory to practice so you can have a more realistic vision of what to expect when you move more of your on-site tech to the cloud.

Five Key Takeaways:

  • Cloud platform integration creates more opportunities to connect disparate applications, databases, and other systems in your IT ecosystem.
  • You can improve data security and recovery by moving information to the cloud while also storing it on local servers.
  • Cloud platform integration can make machine learning, artificial intelligence, IoT, and other emerging technologies more accessible for small and medium enterprises.
  • Every organization has unique cloud computing needs, so they must understand their needs before choosing service providers.
  • Extract, transform, load (ETL) solutions can play an essential role in cloud platform integration.

Table of Contents

Understanding Cloud Platform Integration

Cloud platform integration has two possible meanings. It can refer to integrating various cloud services or integrating cloud services with on-premises technologies. Both strategies have their pros and cons.

For example, if you already have an on-site IT infrastructure, you might want to continue using it for enhanced security control. Even when you enjoy on-premises systems, though, it makes sense to integrate them with cloud platforms that can give authorized users access regardless of their locations.

Some of the components you’ll likely encounter during a cloud platform integration project include:

  • Software as a service (SaaS) — applications stored in the cloud and generally accessible for a recurring fee.
  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) — a service model that usually includes essential infrastructure components, such as data storage, servers, networking, and computing.
  • Platform as a service (PaaS) — a cloud-based platform that gives users access to bundled services.
  • Connectors — adapters that let applications and systems share information with each other.
  • Data mapping — a critical step to discovering data and its locations throughout on-site and cloud systems.
  • Application programming interfaces (APIs) — A set of protocols that gives you control over how applications, systems, and other components share data.
  • Integration platform as a service (iPaaS) — A relatively new offering that involves integration tools, middleware, APIs, and cloud infrastructure.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it covers most of the components the typical organization encounters. The more complex your system is, the more components you can expect it to include.

Popular Types of Cloud Integration

Three cloud integration strategies stand out as the most popular options:

1. Data Integration

Today’s organizations collect data from diverse sources, including e-commerce sites, social media platforms, and pay-per-click advertising campaigns. Unfortunately, many of these sources use different data formats. If you funnel data from Facebook and Salesforce to the same business intelligence tool, you won’t get meaningful results. The BI tool might not even know what to do with the disparate data types.

Successful data integration will extract, transform, and load (ETL) data from diverse sources to a single destination. No-code ETL solutions that let users who don’t have professional coding or data analytics experience are popular options for data integration in the cloud.

Related reading: Top 14 ETL Tools for 2024

2. Application Integration

In 2019, the average desk worker used six applications on the job. A survey from 2023 shows that they now use 11 apps on average. That’s nearly double the pieces of software employees use daily.

Application sprawl becomes a serious issue when people want to share data between the pieces of software they rely on. Most applications don’t have built-in integrations for the other apps your teams use. With so many apps available, it’s nearly impossible for developers to know what integrations each client would prefer.

Cloud application integration helps solve the problem by moving data through third-party solutions. A solution will transform data from one tool before loading it to another app or a central repository.

3. API Integration

API integration creates a kind of virtual portal that lets applications communicate with each other. For example, you could send Marketo data to Salesforce via an API. This strategy would transform business data and connect apps so they can coordinate their features.

Custom API integration can require quite a bit of coding experience, so it doesn’t work well for everyone. The good news is that more developers have released no-code and low-code API tools that can do most of the work for you.

Common Benefits of Cloud Integration

Embracing cloud environments probably won’t solve all of your organization’s IT challenges. More of than not, though, companies find that cloud integration offers:

  • Improved automation that makes workflows and business processes more efficient
  • Real-time scalability that keeps up with user needs
  • On-demand access to data, even from remote locations
  • Remote cloud storage for rapid disaster recovery
  • Better collaboration between cloud computing tools, including data storage, cloud-based applications, machine learning platforms, and big data analytics

That just scratches the surface of the potential benefits, though. The functionality you get will depend on your use case, the cloud service providers you partner with, and the strategy you choose.

Strategic Planning for Cloud Integration

No one should start moving more technologies to the cloud until they’ve created a strategic plan that informs their decisions and ensures they can reach their goals. There’s a lot to think about when developing a strategic plan for cloud integration. Start with these broad topics to narrow your path forward.

Assessing Business Needs

Strategic planning requires an accurate assessment of your business needs.

Every business will have slightly different requirements, but you can start assessing yours by:

  • Reviewing data structures to determine whether you need connectors that can transform formats before sending them to BI and other apps
  • Making a complete list of the technologies you want to integrate in the cloud
  • Looking forward a few years to make an educated guess about your business’s upcoming technology needs

Once you’ve assessed your business’s needs, you can start developing a strategic plan for integrating cloud platforms.

Choosing the Right Cloud Integration Platform

There are plenty of cloud integration platforms to consider. When comparing options, prioritize these four factors.

  • Compatibility — Are your existing tech assets compatible with the cloud integration platform?
  • Scalability — At some point, you will need to access extra computing power and other resources. Will the cloud integration platform let you scale up and down quickly so you can access those resources without spending more money than necessary?
  • Costs — Does a cloud integration platform’s price fit your budget, and could it help lower the costs of on-premises hosting?
  • Security — Does the cloud integration platform ensure security that meets or exceeds your industry’s guidelines?

Also, be aware of vendor lock-in that could prevent you from adopting the best tools for your use case. You don’t want to choose a cloud integration platform that forces you to only use solutions from the same company. That will limit your flexibility and potentially make your ecosystem more expensive than necessary.

Best Practices in Cloud Integration

Following a few best practices will help ensure a successful cloud integration strategy. Some of the most important best practices to keep in mind include:

  • Continuously monitoring your cloud solutions to find opportunities for improvement
  • Applying end-to-end encryption to bolster security between connected cloud assets
  • Training team members to use new cloud assets without hurting their security
  • Comparing hybrid cloud, multicloud, private cloud, and public cloud options to decide which serves your organization best
  • Focusing on performance metrics like latency, failbacks, scaling potential, and computing power
  • Comparing data integration tools that fit into your cloud ecosystem

Overcoming Challenges in Cloud Integration

Cloud integration has the potential to unlock deeper insights, streamline workflows, and help you capture new markets. Still, you might encounter some challenges as you move more of your IT ecosystem to the cloud. Many organizations have already been down this road, so there are tested ways to overcome common challenges.

Data Security and Regulatory Compliance

Data security and regulatory compliance starts with choosing a reliable cloud services provider. Make sure the service provider you choose complies with:

Even if you and your current customers aren’t located in the European Union or California, meeting these regulations is a good idea. They should improve your data security, prepare you for future legislation in your area, and make it easier for you to grow your business.

Depending on your industry, you might also need to talk to service providers about how they provide security and compliance assurance for:

If you operate in a different industry, research its regulations to ensure you protect your customer data and follow appropriate guidelines.

Integration Complexity

Cloud integration can become increasingly complex as you adopt more assets. Eventually, you could find that integration complexity becomes detrimental to streamlined workflows and data-driven decision-making.

The following tips can help you tame integration complexity before it gets out of hand:

  • Industry leader Oracle has long advocated for adopting tools with prebuilt integrations. If your cloud ecosystem doesn’t have the prebuilt integrations you’d like, adopt an ETL solution that can add those integrations to your tech stack.
  • Assess your needs and identify priorities as soon as possible so you can create an integration plan around them.
  • Incorporate automation into as many processes as possible, especially when choosing assets that will update to new versions independently without much supervision.
  • Monitor usage to notice any unnecessary tools you could offload.
  • Work with a service provider that can recommend resources that match your use case.

Managing Costs

Obviously, you want to keep your costs as low as possible without sacrificing quality of service. That’s not always an easy goal to reach because cloud service providers often use complicated cost equations that can differ depending on everything from your location to the applications you use.

Knowing what you need is the first step to managing costs during cloud integration. Ideally, you should know:

  • What software you want to use and whether you need to pay extra for licensing
  • Whether you need to migrate historical data from your current data centers
  • How much memory and computing power you will need
  • Whether you need additional services specific to your industry

You can start comparing costs by getting quotes from major providers like AWS, Microsoft, and Google.

Set aside plenty of time to get accurate estimates. Things can get quite complicated. For instance, when you get a quote from the AWS pricing calculator, you need to choose which services you need. Amazon has dozens of services you can add to your account. The same goes for Google and Microsoft.

You can get your quotes from:

After you choose a service, you should continue monitoring your usage and costs. You might have overestimated or underestimated how much you would use some of the cloud services. Continuous monitoring helps ensure you keep your account, expenses, and needs aligned.

Keep in mind that these providers use a pay-as-you-go model, so you can change your strategy at any time. Also, higher usage in one month doesn’t necessarily mean you will pay a higher cost during the next month.

Future Trends in Cloud Integration

The future of technology will happen in the cloud. So, what changes can you expect to encounter after you’ve moved assets and processes to the cloud?

Emerging Technologies

Machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies have existed for decades. But they’ve only just started to become essential enterprise tools. Already, over half of businesses use them for fraud detection and cybersecurity.

These and other emerging technologies will influence how you manage cloud integration and what services you access via the cloud.

Cloud-based ML and AI solutions are much more affordable and flexible than on-premises solutions. Let’s say you wanted to use Google Cloud’s AI and Machine Learning suite. The company’s options let you tap into deep learning containers, cloud GPUs, custom machine learning model training, and much more. Since you access these services through the cloud, you don’t need to purchase the equipment you would need to perform tasks on-site. You avoid a massive upfront cost, and you get to adopt improvements as they emerge.

Internet of Things (IoT) will also become increasingly popular as more companies move to the cloud. According to a report from GSMA, we can expect 23 billion IoT connections by 2025, up from 15.1 billion in 2021.

Adding more IoT devices to any IT ecosystem will force companies to move more of their services to the cloud. IoT simply doesn’t work without support from cloud-based systems. While this might present some challenges, it will also give companies access to more data than ever. With the right strategy, IoT adoption should make business intelligence insights more accurate and useful. It will, however, require embracing more cloud functionality.

Predictions for Cloud Integration

Several trends are poised to influence cloud integration in the near future. Expect to see:

  • More organizations get comfortable with hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud ecosystems
  • Increased processing power as IoT becomes more popular
  • More machine learning and artificial intelligence tools that can scale quickly to process enormous amounts of information
  • Increased regulations, especially in the finance and healthcare industries, that should help companies leverage data without falling pretty to hackers

How Can Help

Cloud platform integration can pose some challenges, but the potential benefits make it appealing to all kinds of organizations. An informed approach that includes learning more about how the cloud works and how service providers can keep data safe should help you develop a successful strategy.

Still, data integration creates a difficult hurdle. can help you move forward by radically improving your data integration strategy. Integrate provides solutions for ETL, reverse ETL, database replication, API generation, and data observability. Plus, has a library of over 150 connectors to pull data from sources, transform data into useful formats, and load them in a centralized location. The platform’s no-code approach to building ETL pipelines means anyone can connect data sources without much training.

Want to see how can improve your company’s cloud integration? Schedule a live demo to learn more.


Can cloud integration reduce IT costs for costs for businesses?

Cloud integration has the potential to lower the costs of computing services, but it doesn’t guarantee a more cost-effective strategy. You should compare your cloud service options to discover cost-lowering opportunities. You might find that AWS (Amazon Web Services) has a lower cost for you than Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. Another organization might find that it gets a better price from Google than Amazon. It depends on your needs and expectations.

Whether you choose a purely cloud-based or hybrid cloud model that includes on-premises equipment will also influence your costs.

How to measure the success of cloud integration initiatives?

There are many ways to measure the success of a cloud integration initiative. Some options include measuring:

  • How much money you save by moving from in-house to cloud services
  • Whether your revenues increase after integration
  • How much more productivity individuals, departments, and the overall organization become
  • Whether the initiative gives your IT ecosystem more robust data security

How does cloud integration impact data security?

Cloud integration often provides more robust data security than on-premises servers offer. With cloud integration, you get data security at multiple levels. Unique security protocols are typically used for each component. If a hacker manages to infiltrate an application, they won’t necessarily have access to your database. Cloud integration doesn’t ensure better security, though. You must choose service providers that stay ahead of emerging trends.