In the corporate world, cloud computing and adoption is a strategy that many have adopted.
Interestingly, cloud services and strategies tend to evolve for the better with time. The latest drift in the cloud computing industry has come with the adoption of cloud integration platforms.
In simplest terms, cloud integration is the act of amalgamating different cloud environments into a cohesive infrastructure for an organization. It brings together various software applications, data repositories, on-premises infrastructure, and IT environments for real-time accessibility and management.
The latest trend creating ripples in the cloud integration arena is iPaaS, or Integration Platform as a Service. iPaaS takes care of data and application integration, integration strategy, and business compliance. It also provides a simple solution for managing, developing, and integrating cloud applications.
What is iPaaS?
Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) is a data integration service provided by cloud vendors where they provide infrastructure and tools to aid the integration of on-premises and cloud-based applications.
Key iPaaS features
For an organization looking forward to accelerating their cloud strategy, choosing the right cloud integration platform early on is non-negotiable. Let’s take a look at the key features of an iPaaS solution that makes it viable for business adoption.
1. Security and compliance
iPaaS vendors must mandatorily ensure compliance with industry-standard security guidelines. They offer services such as fraud detection, easy audits, and real-time threat visualization for simplified cloud integration.
2. Unified platform
A robust iPaaS solution should always be accessible on a unified platform for all the shareholders in an organization. A unified platform also ensures data synchronization and core integration of existing applications across the enterprise.
3. Low code
Low-code environments and drag-and-drop UI are critical for faster integration and enable non-technical users to access and create automated tasks. An iPaaS solution should be extensible and use low-code service-oriented architecture in order to be accessible and agile enough to be used by an enterprise.
4. Cloud native
Cloud-native computing is an architectural style which provides scalability, accessibility and built-in redundancy to run applications in dynamic environments. An iPaaS solution is expected to be cloud-native in order to ensure maximum efficacy of cloud-integrated applications.
Is iPaaS right for your business?
For a growing business, the task of juggling multiple applications and data warehouses takes up a lot of resources and manpower. With the advent of cloud computing, integrating resources on an organizational level has become feasible with the help of software such as iPaaS. Here are the benefits iPaaS provides for a dynamically growing enterprise.
1. Cost effectiveness
iPaaS providers present enterprises with an option to go for monthly or yearly cloud subscriptions, thus making it extremely cost-effective. It helps streamline the cloud strategy budget to a T. It also reduces the developer/asset pricing for customer integrations and takes care of the maintenance and storage of interlinked data sources as well.
2. Ease of use
iPaaS solutions usually come with pre-built integration modules that allow organizations to accelerate the integration process, automate tasks, and not start everything from scratch. They also shorten the planning process and ensure that there is no redundancy in the tasks involved in the application integration.
For an agile and dynamic business structure, iPaaS provides the flexibility to grow the integration platform along with the business expansion and digital transformation. It also benefits small businesses by providing them access to benefit from enterprise-level SaaS resources.
iPaaS ensures synchronized data and seamless application connectivity. It increases user productivity and efficiency since they don’t have to juggle multiple platforms to look for data they need or the application they want to use.
5. Business agility
Real-time data tracking and visualization of changes in the business scenario is a feature provided by iPaaS solutions that enable organizations to stay ahead of their competitors and the market.
For resources shared with multiple tenants, there’s an issue of multiple instances being created for each user action. iPaaS allows shared resources among tenants, which leads to reduced costs and fewer instances overhead along with improved speed.
If your organization’s business model and cloud strategy are willing to embrace a shift in your cloud landscape, and if a service provider taking care of your application integrations is a viable option, iPaaS seems to be the apparent choice with less hassle to the existing infrastructure.
iPaaS security risks
If we talk about the various benefits iPaaS offers, we also need to discuss the challenges that come with it.
Since the whole organizational data and applications are consolidated at a single platform in iPaaS, it greatly increases the risk of data vulnerability and misuse due to human error. Providing access to users without sufficient knowledge of data protection or security mechanisms may lead to a sensitive data breach at some point in time.
Adequate domain knowledge of users given access to iPaaS services and robust security mechanisms, and checks such as data encryption and password protection at each data point access, can eliminate this risk and ensure smoother operations through the cloud integration process.
iPaaS vs. ESB
Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) is an on-premise architecture model that allows applications to communicate through a series of rules and principles over a bus-like infrastructure. It integrates your applications over a communication bus and allows the applications to talk through the same.
Here are the primary differences in features between iPaaS and ESB:
ESB brings a company’s subsystems together in a single aggregated system. It follows a vertical flexibility model. This allows for a tightly controlled information flow, which is a quicker and cheaper alternative for a stable system, but doesn’t allow much room for further integrations.
iPaaS, on the other hand, follows a horizontal flexibility system, which allows cloud applications and systems to come together in a seamless way. It also allows for easy plug-ins and plug-outs, enabling the system to adopt and disconnect applications on demand.
ESB easily integrates on-premise complex IT architecture and legacy systems. iPaaS is designed to integrate on a more flexible and lightweight architecture, providing access for a real-time integration of cloud based services.
ESB solutions do not support multitenancy since they rely on a single service while handling a lot of users. Conversely, PaaS supports multitenancy, reducing ad hoc integration solutions costs and complexity.
Top 5 iPaaS software solutions
iPaaS software provides a centralized solution to integrate, manage, and govern cloud-based applications by providing the appropriate tools to connect applications and control integration flows.
To qualify for inclusion in the iPaaS category, a product must:
Integrate various cloud to cloud systems and solutions
Merge cloud solutions into a single platform
Allow stakeholders to manage and govern integration flows
Create, utilize, and manage cloud integrations
*Below are the five leading iPaaS software solutions from G2's Winter 2021 Grid® Report. Some reviews may be edited for clarity.
Zapier provides code-free application integration to growing businesses and helps them with a cost-effective automation module.
What users like:
“It's quick to use, it's incredibly inexpensive, subsidized for non-profit applications, and it fits for almost any application. No developer or freelancer needs to recruit. You may set it irrespective of the budget or organization's scale. I like it will, for example, collect data from one source to a Google Sheet, and then trigger another rule from this sheet. It's helpful to customize those zaps to simplify a process when you don't have the money in your squad to function right away.”
“There are cases in which Zapier may not be able to handle this when you need tight two-way integration of two systems, and you have to shift towards a more business process friendly solution. Even if a mobile device is available, the most important thing, is that the Web version does not provide well-structured multi-fault support in one of its functionalities, which is seen as a convenience by Zapier cus, is the telephone support for each user who has the application downloaded into the mobile desks.”
MuleSoft Anypoint Platform is a hybrid integration platform that includes iPaaS, ESB, and a unified solution for API management, design, and publishing. It creates an application network of apps, data, and devices both on-premises and in the cloud.
What users like:
“I like that it has several functionalities that enable us to build a better work environment, particularly one of its critical characteristics, which lets us create a system of connections between many systems of our business, with more than 100 connector choices, in addition. Integration with other applications such as salesforce or slack is also a great benefit for this program, which enables us to have continuous contact with this form of system, which we also use regularly.”
“Your user cannot be reused. Every time you have a new company project on Anypoint Platform, you need to create a new user and associate it to the new company. There is no way to have a single user and administrate the access or the projects. This is the worst thing in Anypoint Platform. A real example, I have more than 5 different users, created for Mulesoft Courses and different projects for different companies.
API Gateway is a little hard to use. It's not so intuitive and at your first look it can be painful to start to use.”
Celigo empowers organizations and IT users to integrate cloud-based applications. It helps in synchronizing data, automating processes, and streamlining operations during the integration process.
What users like:
“Integrator.IO allows us to fully integrate NetSuite with our multiple eCommerce platforms & manage within a single, easy to navigate UI. The out-of-the-box connectors are well designed, yet customizable for specific use cases. Implementation is straightforward, and Celigo's implementation teams easy to work with. Daily workflow management & error handling is efficient. Customer service is prompt to respond & great to work with. The new UI has greatly expanded customization capabilities, for those needing more complex integrations beyond the standard connectors.”
“While the product itself is robust, I'd urge new users/customers of Celigo to push for additional implementation hours early into the conversation while purchasing a new workflow. Additionally, there have been instances like duplicate SOs being generated in Netsuite due to a Salesforce upgrade. This is an understandable problem we've seen with other Netsuite integrations and the Celigo team is constantly working towards making this seamless.”
Workato leverages machine learning and patented technology to create fast automation modules and enables companies to drive real-time outcomes from business events.
What users like:
“The platform is easy to use. Operational management is easy to track through job logs. The varied API connection capability makes the speed to market / MVP much quicker and allows the automated / integrator to focus on business logic rather than low-level technical connection issues.
Documentation and community questions are wide-ranging meaning anything I want to investigate into further has ample information to assist me.”
“It would be great if we can select certain steps and just run those few steps instead of the whole recipe. This is especially helpful when our recipes are too long and we are troubleshooting some parts. Another pain point is to shift multiple parts of a recipe (Eg like a Ctrl button and choose the steps we want) instead of manually shifting one step at a time.”
Dell Boomi provides a flexible and scalable platform to unify all cloud-based applications quickly and unites everything in your digital ecosystem across channels, devices, and platforms.
What users like:
“It is really simple to use the no-code flowchart canvas to imagine the workflow. There are a lot of built-in custom connectors that make it simple to create integrations. This product's ROI is outstanding. Without the need for deep technological expertise, basic integrations can be quite easily created. For more simple integrations, method diagrams are easy to read and understand. There is a plethora of knowledge in process papers, but what you are searching for can be difficult to locate.”
“You ought to make use of Dell's partner offering and teaching Boomi specialists within the organisation. However, in addition to the expertise needed to customize interfaces in the first place, Dell Boomi courses, minds interpreting and interrupting distances are a speciality in themselves, when it goes down you probably need assistance to repair it. If you're new to this product, you may not like it immediately because of a different approach and wonderful terms such as Atom and the molecule. I don't like this product, I have nothing. For capital, that's good value.”
Hybrid cloud integration solutions are being rapidly adopted across the world, with a growth rate of 14% predicted over the next three years. iPaaS has poised itself as a viable solution for businesses of all sizes, looking to take a step toward an integrated cloud solution.
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