An integration platform-as-a-service, or iPaaS, is a cloud-based service that connects your applications and data. An iPaaS simplifies integration activities, making it easy to connect applications and data deployed both in cloud environments and your data centers. With an iPaaS, you can build and deploy integrations in the cloud without having to install or manage any middleware or hardware.
An iPaaS can be used in different scenarios where you need to connect applications, or migrate and replicate data. An iPaaS is designed with integration specialists in mind, providing the tools they need for successful integration initiatives.
With the explosion of digital business initiatives, the need to quickly and easily connect SaaS, cloud, and on-premises assets has grown.
Features of an iPaaS
An iPaaS is a specific kind of Software as a Service (SaaS) offering that has all the characteristics of the cloud and enables connectivity between cloud and onsite sources. An iPaaS is typically accessible from anywhere with an internet connection through a browser-based user interface. From there, authorized users can create, deploy, manage, and monitor integrations. As a cloud service, an iPaaS scales to provide just the right amount of computing resources you need to meet your integration demands, so it can grow as your business grows. A robust iPaaS provides the following capabilities specific to integration requirements.
An iPaaS supports the graphical development of integration applications. This greatly simplifies and accelerates integration development as compared to a custom-coded approach. Your integrators can assemble the logic of an integration by dragging and dropping pre-packaged business logic, widgets, and connectivity components, which can be easily customized to your requirements, rather than writing lines of code. This allows you to put new and updated integrations into service very rapidly to meet your ever-changing business demands.
Library of Connectors
Connectors are pre-built code that create connections and interact with specific apps or data sources in the unique way they communicate. These connectors expose the fields and entities from the specific configuration of an endpoint to the iPaaS user interface so that you can develop an integration app. Connectors can work from behind firewalls for on-premises sources over secure connections.
When considering an iPaaS vendor, you should make sure that it provides the connectors you need to integrate the applications and data you need to connect. Most iPaaS vendors provide a library of connectors for common endpoints. However, this may not cover every endpoint you need to integrate. Certified third-party connectors built by platform users may also be available to add to the iPaaS. In addition, a vendor should provide generic connectors for REST APIs, or users can be provided development toolkits to write their own.
Deployment, Management, and Monitoring Tools
An iPaaS allows you to centrally create, deploy, and execute your integration applications. You can schedule, start and stop integrations, and check the status and health of running apps. An iPaaS vendor typically includes different types of application monitoring tools, for example, to monitor specific criteria like performance, availability, and communication failures.
How Can iPaaS Improve Your IT Delivery?
An iPaaS is a SaaS, which means there is no hardware or software for you to purchase, install, configure, and maintain, which reduces administrative burdens. Once you sign up with an iPaaS vendor your team can start connecting your apps and data immediately. And when your vendor updates its iPaaS software, they are applied automatically with limited to no disruptions to your running integration apps.
A fully connected iPaaS provides you with the speed, agility, and economics of cloud computing which generates several major business benefits:
Accelerate Integration Initiatives
Your business has several choices to implement your integration strategy. First, you can develop integration code from scratch with tools like Spring Boot. Your developers will have to develop all connectivity code and business logic for each integration application, and you will have to put your own management and monitoring tools in place to ensure apps stay running and performing as needed. This can be a burden as integrations typically support critical business processes, so when integration apps don’t perform as expected, they can impact business results.
Second, you can continue to use traditional integration solutions such as an enterprise service bus. These technologies removed the burden of developing custom code by centralizing the integration runtime, however, they were not designed to support new modes of IT delivery such as cloud-based applications or new approaches to integration such as API-led.
The optimal approach to connect modern architecture is to use an iPaaS. With a simple user interface, an iPaaS makes it fast and easy to develop and maintain integrations, which accelerates IT service delivery and thus helps your business achieve its objectives more quickly. An iPaaS is designed for cloud connectivity, and promotes an API-led approach to integration.
Keep Pace with Constant Change
Business requirements, as well as information technologies and enterprise software change constantly, which will force you to change your integrations to keep pace. An iPaaS helps you adapt with a user-friendly interface that lets you update, add, and remove integrations very quickly. The pre-built connectors created by the iPaaS vendor will make it easier to keep up with software updates and will keep your data sources connected through major software updates to data sources and applications.
Free Up Time
Because an iPaaS provides pre-built business logic and connectors, your integrators won’t spend a lot of time writing low-level connectivity code. Connectors are pre-tested for quality and security requirements, reducing verification time. In addition, an iPaaS is fully installed and ready to use in the cloud and is continuously updated by the vendor, greatly reducing administration requirements. All of these features greatly reduce the resources needed to develop, deploy, and maintain your integrations over custom-built and legacy approaches.
Connect Across Cloud and On-premises Assets
One of the most valuable features of an iPaaS is that it can connect to a variety of on-premises and cloud assets. Unlike traditional integration approaches, like an enterprise service bus that is designed to connect assets inside your on-premises data centers, an iPaaS can connect assets deployed across cloud and on-premises. This can help accelerate your cloud transformation strategy.
What Can You Use iPaaS For?
An iPaaS is a vital component necessary to achieve your digital business initiatives. No matter what your technical requirements mandate, an iPaaS can help you implement the following use cases:
Synchronize Data Between Your Applications and Data Sources
An iPaaS can ensure data between diverse data sources and applications is consistent so you can enable real-time operations. For example, an iPaaS can synchronize your marketing automation data with your customer resource management (CRM) and enterprise resources planning (ERP) systems so that your sales, marketing, product, and fulfillment teams can view your most current customer activity in real time.
An iPaaS ensures data flows from the source to the target on-demand or on a schedule and it maps data between diverse source and target data formats. No matter what format the original source data is in, iPaaS has translators built-in for seamless data interoperability. Think of iPaaS as a universal translator for your data.
An iPaaS can migrate data from one or more data sources to a new, target data source. There are a number of reasons why your business may need to migrate data. You might need to move data hosted onsite to a cloud-based data store. You may need to transform to new, modern business systems in the cloud, such as an ERP. You might even need to consolidate data sources to improve cost efficiencies. An iPaaS can help you migrate your data no matter what the reason is.
An iPaaS also helps you connect the logic of business applications together, integrating logic into larger and more valuable workflows and processes. This gives you the ability to streamline work conducted in various areas of your business, such as case management, insurance underwriting, order processing and fulfillment, logistical processes, and more.
Digital automation helps your business operate faster, more efficiently, and more intelligently. By connecting data and applications together through an iPaaS, you can create workflows to automate certain processes and reduce the need for manual human intervention in these processes. For example, automated processes can guide an employee through the steps of an onboarding process, or approve applications for credit, or process an order.
How Do You Know If You Need an iPaaS?
An iPaaS is ideal for small businesses and single department projects. It can help a small business operate digitally, allowing customers to interact with and do business on its website and mobile apps. For department projects, an iPaaS can help teams connect together the SaaS applications they use in their operations.
However, if you are looking to tackle large enterprise integration projects that span across business units, like for hyperautomation, customer journey optimization, cloud transformation, and cross-enterprise data synchronization, you really need a Hybrid Integration Platform.
How to Choose a Vendor
An iPaaS is a helpful tool for integrating applications and data sources from the cloud. It provides more features than an enterprise service bus, but may not be able to handle large projects like a hybrid integration platform can. Comparing iPaaS vendors and creating a checklist of services your business needs can help you select the best solution for your business.
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