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Cloud integration involves adding one or more applications to a cloud-based platform, possibly within your existing environment. Cloud integration is the first step, the so-called initialization phase, where you create the virtual environment in which to build the rest of your platform.
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Cloud application integration involves adding an application to an existing cloud environment. The deployment usually focuses on one application, for example, integrating a cloud-based MySQL environment for your website. Cloud application integration usually comes after you have assembled your cloud environment.
Cloud application integration often includes the use of middleware, software designed to sit on top of one application suite to make it compatible with another application suite. The idea with cloud application integration is that you manually integrate multiple applications on the same underlying system architecture.
Integration platform as a service (iPaaS) involves "gluing" multiple cloud environments or cloud services together, possibly with other legacy applications, such as a local Microsoft Active Directory service. IPaaS is usually the final phase in a cloud deployment, but it can be the only phase in your cloud deployment if you do not need to build custom software or hardware environments in the cloud.
IPaaS, designed to integrate across multiple cloud platforms, often involves integration with local on-premises technologies and multiple software as a service (SaaS) solutions.
If you work for a startup company or you're building your technology platform, start with cloud integration. If you're already in the cloud but you want to add another application, you do cloud application integration. If you're running on-premises software or multiple SaaS solutions and you need to integrate multiple solutions, consider an iPaaS solution. The differences are subtle, but each does have its own place in cloud deployment.
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