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10/17/2008
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Tackling The SaaS Integration Challenge

I've talked to many business technology managers who are intrigued by the idea of software as a service. But their top question is almost always the same: What's the best way to integrate SaaS with your other business applications? We tackle this issue in an in-depth story published this week, "SaaS Integration: Real-World Problems, And How CIOs Are Solving Them."

I've talked to many business technology managers who are intrigued by the idea of software as a service. But their top question is almost always the same: What's the best way to integrate SaaS with your other business applications? We tackle this issue in an in-depth story published this week, "SaaS Integration: Real-World Problems, And How CIOs Are Solving Them."Data security used to be the biggest concern about SaaS, but not so much anymore. It just took some time for people to get comfortable with the idea of having someone else manage and update their software, and there haven't been any catastrophic events related to SaaS (Salesforce.com's data center hasn't fallen into the ocean) to stoke those fears.

But as SaaS shifts from a one-off software subscription the marketing department purchased on the sly, to a possibly broader IT strategy, integration has become a big topic. How do you get customer data from a CRM service into your on-site financial applications? How do you link your payroll service into an HR software service? What integration technologies do you use for SaaS, and where do you get them? We answer all these questions, and a lot more, in this piece.

You'll read the stories of some CIOs who are trying to build a 100% SaaS shop (or something very close to it), like Ingres' Doug Harr. He's managed to avoid the necessary evil of on-site integrations -- pricey middleware packages -- with his SaaS integration strategy. That calls for focusing on SaaS vendors that have worked hard to integrate their offerings, and he's also exploring the growing market of SaaS integration products from companies such as Bluewolf, Boomi, and Cast Iron. Harr's integration strategy extends to making Ingres employees' lives easier, too, using a single user sign-on system from TriCipher, so users never get the sense that their company network is really just a collection of SaaS services.

Harr's story is interesting, but there are a lot more CIOs' stories in this piece, including integration challenges they faced with SaaS vendors and how they worked through them, and what type of talent they've found works best for SaaS integration. Take a look at the piece, and let me know what you think at mhayes@techweb.com. There's also a sidebar on vendors offering technologies and services to solve SaaS integration issues, "SaaS Integration Specialists Find Their Niches."

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