How do you integrate your on-premise systems with applications in the cloud outside your firewall? The era of business software that only runs on-premise is past its peak and is now on the decline. Increasingly the cloud is becoming the way that organizations use applications. Whether it is working with software run by partners and customers, or with mobile applications and other devices, or with the growing category of business applications that are only available as cloud-based SaaS(software-as-a-service) solutions. The term hybrid integration describes this new reality.
Organizations that are encountering hybrid integration find that there are several challenges when integrating on-premise systems with cloud applications.
- Provide seamless integration between cloud and on-premise applications
- Maintain security and integrity of data being transferred
- Protect internal systems behind the firewall
- Manage the communication to cater for bad or dropped signals
- Ensure the connection is using bandwidth efficiently
Previous connection solutions
Two common methods used in the past to connect on-premise and cloud systems have been:
- VPN (virtual private network) which creates an encrypted private channel for transferring data,
- FTP (file transfer protocol) for performing bulk loading of data.
Although these solutions are acceptable, but they are not optimal for handling all the challenges of integration.
DropPoints connect on-premise apps to the cloud
Flowgear has a comprehensive solution to the hybrid integration challenge with its DropPoint technology. A DropPoint is a software agent that is installed on a server or workstation in order to enable Flowgear to access on-premise data sources that are not exposed to the Internet. Basically, a DropPoint is a connection service between on-premise software and the cloud.
A DropPoint performs the following functions:
- allows data communication between disparate sources by creating an outbound connection to the Flowgear cloud;
- usually does not require to changes firewall policies;
- allows communication to be recovered if the connection gets dropped;
- enables communication for services that are not a web API;
- provides secure integration for data source which are exposed to the Internet but not in a secured manner.
You can use a DropPoint in the following scenarios.
- The data source (such as an SQL database) is not exposed through the company firewall to the Internet
- The Flowgear Node being used requires a DropPoint (several enterprise software applications, e.g., ERP, require a DropPoint to run on the server in order to integrate with them)
- The API for the service or product being integrated is not a web API (eg. a COM service)
- The required data source is exposed to the Internet but not in a secured manner (eg. exposed as HTTP and not HTTPS).
DropPoints ensure security by using WebSockets and HTTPS for communication.
DropPoints provide efficient data transport by compression and application-level transaction chunking, and use packet acknowledgement to enable recovery of data when Internet connectivity has been disrupted.
How to use a DropPoint
Download the DropPoint using the links provided in the DropPoints Pane in the Console.
Install the app.
Then launch the Flowgear DropPoint shortcut which is created in the Start Menu.
Sign in using your Flowgear credentials, then select the Site you wish to register the DropPoint against.
The registered DropPoint will be displayed.
In this example, I will use the DropPoint to read an Excel file.
Add a File Node, select File Connection, then select the edit tool to display the DropPoint credentials
Edit the credentials to show the DropPoint as being on your machine rather than in the Cloud, and then Save.
On the File Node, enter the file URL.
When you just run the File Node to test it, you should see the results on the Activity Log.
Finally, here’s a simple example of an integration workflow that verifies data from an Excel file in Sage One.
Updating and de-registering a DropPoint
Flowgear updates DropPoints as part of its normal upgrade and enhancement process, so you need to check your DropPoints periodically to make sure they are up-to-date.
A DropPoint can be de-registered(deleted) if it is no longer needed.
Hybrid environments are growing
Businesses will experience multiple environment types as a hybrid assortment of cloud and non-cloud applications evolve. A hybrid integration solution gives organizations the assurance that existing on-premise applications can integrate with cloud systems.
Flowgear DropPoint technology provides a secure, encrypted translation bridge between cloud and on-premise applications. Enterprises not only gain the integration they desire; they also extend the value of their existing software investment by turning their systems into cloud-connected platforms.