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Integrating cloud and on-premises workflows

Integration stands out as the top challenge for companies that have embraced SaaS. Here are tips for IT implementers who need to connect hosted apps to the corporate infrastructure.

Integration stands out as the top challenge for companies that have embraced SaaS and the cloud. We'll deliver expert considerations and tips for IT implementers who need to connect hosted apps and services to the corporate infrastructure.

In the age of the cloud, users expect complete abstraction between themselves and the underlying platforms that are supporting their work. All applications, whether delivered as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), or hosted from a co-location facility, or even from on-premises, must be available constantly. This has to be the guiding principle for IT professionals who are supporting on-prem workflows with cloud services.

Look for cloud providers who are happy to cooperate with your operation. Some will welcome the opportunity and support your integration efforts. Some will even offer APIs and other integration tools to ease the process. It is worthwhile to examine how Microsoft in particular has addressed the multi-platform issue at two very specific levels.

Cloud as data center extension

According to a Microsoft Azure website post from November 2, 2014 defining Azure Active Directory:

"Azure Active Directory is a service that provides identity and access management capabilities in the cloud. In much the same way that Active Directory is a service made available to customers through the Windows Server operating system for on-premises identity management, Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) is a service that is made available through Azure for cloud-based identity management."

"Azure AD can be used as a standalone cloud directory for your organization, but you can also integrate existing on-premise Active Directory with Azure AD. Some of the features of integration include directory sync and single sign-on, which further extend the reach of your existing on-premises identities into the cloud for an improved admin and end user experience."

Since then, many companies have ceased investing in additional servers and storage, preferring instead to simply use Microsoft Azure for seasonally elevated needs, special projects, or promotions that drive significantly increased traffic. All you have to do is unify your Active Directory between Windows Server on premises and Azure subscribed servers, then provision resources instantly from a self-service console.

For users, the connection between local and cloud resources is completely transparent. For corporate IT departments, management of resources on both sides of the connection is seamlessly blended into one Active Directory console. Over time, you can retire on-premises servers and replace them with additional Azure servers. Not to mention apps like Office 365 and SharePoint. This kind of relationship represents a simpler, faster, less expensive, less burdensome path to data center expansion that scales effortlessly.

Integrating individuals and information

The introduction of Microsoft Teams provides a meaningful answer to those users who found it difficult to integrate their work with their communications, making collaboration less robust.

Since Microsoft Teams is "chat-based," users can discuss issues with other team members, referring to information and content that is surfaced along with the chat. Microsoft Teams brings together the full breadth and depth of Office 365 to provide a true hub for teamwork. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, OneNote, Planner, Power BI and Delve are all built into Microsoft Teams, as well.

Microsoft Teams is also built on Office 365 Groups--the cross-application membership service that makes it easy for people to move naturally from one collaboration tool to another, preserve their sense of context, and share with others.

Microsoft Teams integrates individuals and their information with a truly intuitive, interactive, transparent interface. You can find out more about how Office 365's collaboration tools help keep management connected to mobile field workers here.