The problem with SaaS services being delivered from different clouds is that they may as well be from different worlds. Enterprise resource planning software from SAP catalogs human resources that also happen to be addressed by customer relationship management software from Salesforce.com. But their data was designed to be driven in their respective clouds.
It may be becoming a fact of everyday life that any problem created by virtue of a cloud-based service must be resolved by a cloud-based service. This is where Informatica steps in, offering integration as a service (though thankfully without yet another "-aaS"). Today, the company announced the full availability of its winter 2012 release of Cloud Connection services for Salesforce, SAP, Oracle EBS, and other products, as part of its ongoing evolution of Informatica Cloud.
Data integration, by Informatica's definition, is bi-directional. For example, resource management data from SAP tracking the whereabouts of employees needs to be continually synchronized with activity management data from Salesforce tracking who those employees should be speaking or working with. Records created in one should become accessible by the other. While multiple integration services do exist, many rely upon the public cloud to provide the meeting ground for the transfer of data between databases.
Not that the public cloud is inherently insecure, but the transfer process can introduce vulnerabilities. Businesses working to avoid these contingencies have resorted to hand-crafting their own synchronization and integration processes, using languages like Perl and C#, which can certainly become familiar to your developer until he leaves the company, after which you may as well be looking at the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Informatica offers an either/or approach depending on the needs of its customer: First, there is Informatica Cloud (depicted above), which the company announced will be made generally available next month, with limited release for testers beginning tomorrow. Here, the integration process is handled off-premise, with transfers of data between other service providers and your own data center taking place through secure agents. Informatica's cloud is a secure data center especially for this purpose, not a public cloud with resources for lease for other purposes.
Informatica Cloud is offered in various service levels, with the top-of-the-line Enterprise tier including support for outbound messaging and API events in the supported SaaS service's native lexicons, and built-in 24/7 live chat with Informatica customer support.
The company admits the off-premise approach, while simple, cannot apply to all circumstances. For example, some businesses require designed workflows where the integration of certain records trigger specified events, such as notifications. For those circumstances, Informatica offers a suite of software tools it calls PowerExchange, enabling businesses to manage integration on-premise. That suite supports a number of pre-packaged templates made available through Informatica's own Cloud Marketplace, one example of which maps data from Oracle's eBusiness suite to data from Salesforce.com. Assuming your business has made no modifications, these solutions are almost turnkey in their nature.
For custom situations, however, businesses can use PowerCenter Designer to design the data transfer process graphically, with field-by-field data mapping between tables, and flowchart-like symbols for triggering workflow processes.