Few applications are very useful without data to work with. And without applications, data itself has little purpose. It's no surprise, then, that a recent survey by open source vendor Talend found that integrating application and data platforms is a major goal of many organizations--even if achieving that integration remains a challenge in many cases.

The survey, which Talend commissioned Decision Management Solutions to conduct, obtained feedback from professionals working on integration at 236 enterprises spread around the world. North America and Europe were most heavily represented, accounting for 71 percent and 24 percent of responding organizations, respectively.

Survey questions centered around the types of integration challenges organizations are pursuing, why they have undertaken them and how they are pursuing them. When it came to explaining the reasons driving integration efforts, most organizations pointed to attempts to streamline internal operations, such as consolidating IT resources or streamlining decision-making structures.

Another key finding was that rather than focusing on specific strands of integration--that is, treating the integration of data, applications and processes as disparate tasks to be dealt with separately--a majority of organizations are committed to broad integration efforts that aim to weave all three of these areas together via comprehensive platforms.

That goal reflects a trend visible in the channel more broadly, where integrative products that combine different types of platforms are in demand. We've covered a couple examples very recently regarding value-added data transfer features for Hadoop and DreamObjects, which combines application and data consolidation via the cloud.

Integration Challenges

While broad integration initiatives are a clear objective for many of the organizations surveyed on Talend's behalf, the means for achieving those goals remain complex and, in some cases, unsatisfactory so far. According to the survey, however, the starting point for integration efforts appears to play a major role in determining their success. The most effective integration projects were those that began with data integration and worked from that base toward including applications and processes.

Unsurprisingly, the survey data also underline the importance of collaboration among different IT teams in driving successful integration efforts. Staff responsible for application integration should be in close contact with those working on data integration--if the teams involved are not one and the same to begin with.

An overview of the complete survey results, which provide some useful insight into how organizations today are handling data, application and process integration in the age of the cloud, is available online.