What is iPaaS?
An integration platform-as-a-service, or iPaaS, is a cloud-based service that integrates your data, applications, and processes. iPaaS automates and simplifies integration activities, making it easy to connect applications and data deployed in any environment. With iPaaS, you can build and deploy integrations in the cloud between your cloud and on-premises applications and data—without having to install or manage any middleware or hardware.
iPaaS can be used in different scenarios where you need to connect, migrate, or replicate data between applications across your company. It offers a fast, easy, and flexible way to connect your applications and data. And you don’t have to be a programmer to use it.
With the explosion of available SaaS applications, the need for easier, more-self-service ways to connect and manage all the data from them has grown. Traditional integration tasks were typically left up to your IT department who often face large task load backlogs and could not act quickly enough to keep up with the speed of business requirements.
What can iPaaS do?
An iPaaS is a Software as a Service (SaaS) offering that inherits all of the characteristics of the cloud. For example, it is accessible from anywhere using an Internet connection and browser. It automatically scales to immediately provide just the right amount of compute resources you need to meet your integration demands.
A robust iPaaS also provides the following capabilities specific to integration requirements:
- It provides a library of connectors.
Connectors allow your applications to talk to each other no matter where they are hosted. Usually iPaaS provides two types of connectors: some for specific applications (e.g. Salesforce) and some that support a communication protocol (e.g. XML or OData). These connectors expose the fields and entities from the specific configuration of an application in the iPaaS user interface so that you can create an integration. When considering iPaaS vendor, you should make sure that it provides the connectors you need to work with all of your applications, data, and processes.
- It moves data between your applications.
An iPaaS moves data between your source and target applications using connectors. Your applications can both take in and push out data so that it flows from the source application to the target application.
- It transforms your data.
Your applications need data in specific formats in order to process it accurately. iPaaS maps and transforms data to match the requirements of both your source and target applications. Think of iPaaS as a universal translator for your data.
- It creates integration workflows.
The user interface of iPaaS helps you design the logic of an integration, including the ability to create workflows and coordinate actions between applications.
- It monitors and manages your integrations.
An iPaaS provides a web-based console so that you can centrally create, deploy, and execute your integrations. You can schedule, start, and stop integrations, and check the health of running integrations.
How can iPaaS help your business?
A leading iPaaS provides you with the speed, agility, and economics of cloud computing which generates several major business benefits:
- You can accelerate your integration initiatives.
With iPaaS, you can significantly reduce the time it takes to integrate applications, making integrations available much more quickly to speed your digital transformation initiatives.
- You can spend more time on higher value integration activities.
Because it provides pre-built, validated connectors that are already integrated with application-specific APIs, with iPaaS, you won’t have to write low-level connectivity code. The iPaaS vendor commits to maintaining connectors and ensuring compatibility with key applications.
- You can expand your integration capacity.
The high-level tools of iPaaS can be used by your integration specialists, business analysts, and even citizen integrators, allowing you to expand the pool of people creating and managing your integrations. This not only accelerates the availability of new integrations, it also reduces the burden on your IT department so that they can focus on higher value activities.
- You can change your integrations rapidly.
Because your business and the technologies you use change constantly, iPaaS helps you adapt quickly with a consistent user interface that lets you update or evolve your integrations to match—a requirement of most digital transformation efforts.
- You can progress your transformation into a digital business.
A digital business exploits digital technologies to create new business models in which the physical and digital worlds combine. Among its many characteristics, a digital business operates at a high speed and efficiency. iPaaS helps progress your transformation toward becoming a digital business, breaking down barriers between data silos and integrating them together. It makes the right information available to the right people instantly so that they can make decisions and take action quickly. This not only helps people work smarter, but also more efficiently because integrating applications and data can automate much of your business processes by eliminating unnecessary manual data entry.
What can you use iPaaS for?
An iPaaS is a vital component within a digital transformation initiative. No matter where you host your data and applications (in the cloud or on-premises), iPaaS can help you:
- Exchange data between your applications in near real-time to streamline your business processes, enhance your customer and employee experiences, and empower your corporate decision makers. For example, you can integrate your Salesforce Sales Cloud instances with your on-premises enterprise-level ERP platform like Microsoft Dynamics AX or a cloud-based ERP solution like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Operations to give your end users of both systems complete views into your customer and order-fulfillment activities. Learn best practices for creating this type of integration.
- Migrate data from legacy applications to modern, cloud-based business systems to make your business more agile. For example, you can map, transform, and move data from and older business system such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 on-premise to a cloud CRM like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics 365. iPaaS can help you migrate data such as accounts, contacts and opportunities in the correct order to preserve relationships between the data in the new system. Many companies also use custom fields and custom objects, which the iPaaS can discover and include in the migration process.
- Replicate data on a regular basis for your analytics and archiving processes to help you uncover new insights, or for scheduled financial reporting. You can create a single view of formatted data from multiple data sources within a data warehouse, or raw data within a data lake. You can replicate data continuously or on a scheduled basis. For example, you can replicate the data in a CRM system like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics 365 to a local Oracle, MySQL or Microsoft SQL Server database.
- Integrate external data from sensors and embedded devices into your business processes to gain real-time views of your business environment and the market. iPaaS makes it easier to integrate smart devices that connect to networks outside of your corporate firewall.