The MSP’s Guide to IT Centralization: Defining Integration

Written by Molly Murphy on August 25, 2022

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This article is part three of a four-part blog series that expands upon our recently released MSP’s Guide to IT Centralization eBook. Get your free copy today

In order to give your clients the most streamlined, efficient user experience possible, you need to be utilizing a top-of-the-line, all-in-one tech stack. IT centralization is the path to those efficiencies. This series explains the four steps to IT centralization. So far, we’ve covered step 1: identification, and step 2: incorporation. This week, we’ll cover step 3: integration. 

Today’s modern environment is more interconnected than ever, from our phones talking to our air conditioning and security systems at home to our business software communicating with external applications. This integration is made easy with cloud-native software and open APIs. But before you jump to connect your core IT platform to all the other applications in your company, you need to take a few things into consideration. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through what integration is, and a few best practices to make sure you do yours right. 

What is Integration? 

Assimilating your new core with your current stack’s gaps is actually a two-part process that takes up two steps in the centralization effort. Step 2, incorporation, was all about using your new core to fill in your current gaps or address the most critical issues within your tech stack. In step 3, integration, you’ll expand the new core’s capabilities to also work alongside those systems around, but not directly within, your stack.

Integration can therefore be thought of as the natural expansion of step 2. In this step, you’ll begin using your core to work with other applications, like your billing, sales, and people management systems. This integration is critical to the centralization process. While multipurpose platforms like JumpCloud allow you to conduct a good chunk of your business from a single pane of glass, it’s not a one-stop shop. Since the end goal is a streamlined approach, your integration efforts should result in your core being able to “talk” to all your other business applications.

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Integration Best Practices 

Integrating your tech stack with external applications can be straightforward and intuitive – if you’ve chosen the right core platform. Here’s a few things to consider during platform selection and integration. 

Determine What Needs to be Integrated 

First, consider which products in your company’s repertoire need to talk to your core in order to streamline security and efficiencies. 

In the days of on-prem application management, this was a non-issue for many companies. There was very little need for your sales CRM to talk to a security platform with a physical firewall in place, for example. But in today’s cloud-first environment, connecting single-sign on (SSO) to these external applications can greatly increase your security, so finding a core that can work with your company’s non-IT resources becomes much more important. 

Take stock of what other applications your company uses outside your tech stack that could be best served by integrating with your core. Common external apps like accounting applications, sales and marketing platforms, and people management CRMs should all be considered. 

Determine How You’ll Integrate

Different platforms offer different external integration options, so check out the offerings for both your core and external platforms. Most integrations connect through application messaging, connectors, data streams, or application programming interfaces (APIs). Which connection preference you choose will be dependent on which core you’re working with and which applications you’re trying to integrate, though APIs are the most common solution for cloud platforms. 

Note that one massive benefit of upgrading to a cloud-native core platform is that they’re always changing and improving. Unlike legacy core solutions, cloud platform developers can push updates and integrations remotely, so even if the integration you need isn’t available today, it could be offered in the future. 

Get User Feedback

Before pulling the trigger on a full-scale platform integration, talk to the users of the external applications. It’s important to understand how they use their applications. For example, if your marketing department uses Hubspot, a huge multifunctional CRM, which components of the platform are they using? Do they use it primarily for campaign management? To keep employee info? To track and segment customer behaviors? Understanding these users’ workflows will help you determine the best integration strategy.

For the best outcome, you also need to ensure that integrating these platforms with your core will improve security and efficiency, without negatively impacting these users’ regular workflows. Consider first integrating in a sandbox, and have real users work within the environment. Use their feedback to determine what’s working and what’s not before you roll the integration out to a larger audience.

Centralize Your Tech Stack with JumpCloud 

Modern cloud directory platforms combine directory services, privileged account management, directory extensions, web app single sign-on (SSO), and multi-factor authentication (MFA) into one streamlined solution. They offer centralized privileged identities instantly mapped to IT resources like devices, applications, and networks, regardless of platform, provider, location, or protocol. They also leverage multiple protocols such as LDAP, RADIUS, SAML, and SCIM so IT admins can seamlessly provision and deprovision, while users have secure, frictionless access to their resources.
If you’re interested in learning more about implementing JumpCloud as part of your IT consolidation strategy, drop us a note. We’d love to chat about how you can use JumpCloud. Or, you can try it yourself by signing up for a free account. Your first 10 users and 10 systems are free. If you have any questions, access our in-app chat 24×7 during the first 10 days and a customer success engineer will be there to help.

Molly Murphy

Molly Murphy is a Senior Content Writer at JumpCloud. A self-professed nerd, she loves working on the cutting edge of the latest IT tech. When she's not in the [remote] office, Molly loves traveling, rescuing animals, and growing her all together unhealthy obsession with Harry Potter.

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