Integration platforms (iPaaS) and hybrid integration platforms (HIP) have started to become extremely popular during the last few years to accelerate the execution of the integration strategies of enterprises.
While there are over a hundred iPaaS vendors on the market globally, according to Gartner, only a few vendors provide their customers with genuinely hybrid integration platforms.
Forrester emphasizes that the vendors with the capability to deliver hybrid integrations vary by size, functionality, geography, and even vertical market focus.
Choosing the right hybrid integration platform can be challenging. You need to find a vendor that is completely aligned with your integration strategy and will support you in the execution. Whether you want to buy a tool or completely managed services, you will find a few alternatives.
In this article, we want to help you to understand what to look for in a hybrid integration platform and which 10 hybrid integration platform vendors you should consider discovering in more depth.
Hybrid Integration Platform
Forrester defines iPaaS and hybrid integration platform as the following:
“Technologies that simplify and reduce the cost of the development, testing, deployment, and maintenance of application and data interfaces.”
In our view, the main differentiator between an iPaaS and a hybrid integration platform (HIP) that an iPaaS can facilitate connectivity between two or multiple cloud-to-cloud applications, but an iPaaS that also functions as a HIP will connect any number of on-premise and cloud applications. Hybrid integration providers’ expertise in legacy system integration is invaluable for legacy system modernization. Legacy system modernization can significantly prolong the lifecycle of the application. Hybrid integrations can also ensure that data sharing can also be facilitated by using these systems from the “old-world” that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
Benefits of Hybrid Integration Platforms
One of the main reason for an enterprise to look for a hybrid integration platform is that earlier they invested in their IT architecture and the company is highly dependent on the systems. While these systems may work just fine department by department, but the legacy infrastructure don't adapt well to today's business need of exchanging data in real-time.
Changing these systems would be a massive project with huge risks. To avoid that, many decided to use hybrid integrations to connect all their systems and applications both internally and externally. Since cloud adoption has been accelerating, it's been imperative to find vendors that can help to connect multiple applications of different natures.
A good example is that when you use on-premise legacy systems, but you also have IoT devices, for example, to track your shipments to improve your supply chain. You will need to integrate the cloud-based data from the IoT devices with your systems to turn the real-time data into meaningful insights. In this case, a hybrid integration platform is a must.
Another good example for the necessity of hybrid integration is when a company comes up with a business model in which they want to utilize data that has been sitting in data siloes and no one made sense of it. A lot of innovative startups, such as supply chain analytics or booking quotes providers, will utilize this type of data. Often, they will need to cooperate with large enterprises who use legacy applications, outdated EDI processes and the startups want to capture the data through their REST APIs. In this case, an integration stack has a strategic role in enabling the company to develop its products and services.
As businesses are increasingly moving towards insight-driven businesses, it's essential to utilize all the data that is available but has never been harnessed.
Hybrid Integrations: Legacy System Integration VS. API
Why is that?
While APIs are the current rage, API management platforms are not sufficient for all connectivity requirements. Especially when there’s a need to connect on-premise legacy systems or when the integration requirements are complex (e.g. large-scale B2B integrations), or when a company needs to capture data from IoT devices and the data needs to be pushed into old systems.
Hybrid integrations are quite challenging. iPaaS tools that serve citizen integrators are typically not sufficient. If you know that you need to connect legacy applications and APIs, you need to look for a more strategic iPaaS. Most of the integration platforms that also come with hybrid capabilities are also considered to be Enterprise Integration Platform as a Service (EiPaaS). Don’t let the name scare you though. We’ll get into it a bit later.
As the iPaaS and HIP technologies available on the market are mature, companies that want to invest in a hybrid integration platform should mainly consider how the platform supports their integration strategy than just simply comparing functions and prices. While functionalities and capabilities are quite similar in case of most of the integration platform providers on the market, how they will be able to support you in the execution of your integration strategy is a different story. As the partnership may go on for quite a long time (most integration strategies plan for the next five years), carefully choosing your HIP vendor is extremely important.
While some companies work with multiple integration vendors, you may want to choose one strategic partner, a company that can help you with all your integration needs, whether it’s connecting hybrid environments, API management, complex B2B integration, or IoT integration.
Even if you don’t have an integration strategy and you haven’t planned as far along as five years from now on, you should choose an iPaaS that is agile and can support the integration needs of your different business units. The good news is that there are also strategic iPaaS and hybrid integration platform vendors (or sometimes referred to as ‘EiPaaS’ providers) on the market that can support SMBs – and the pricing can be quite reasonable. These vendors also provide managed integration services, meaning that they will develop, deploy, and manage the integration solutions and they will take the entire responsibility of the interfaces.
10 Hybrid Integration Platforms
We’ve created a list of 10 hybrid integration platform vendors for you to help your shortlisting and evaluation process. It’s important to mention that there’s no specific order and we do not endorse one vendor over another. It’s a list so you can do your research easily and start your evaluation process together with your team.
Axway’s hybrid integration platform empowers new ad-hoc integrators to create innovative products through employing integrations by combining modern APIs and traditional integration patterns. Using Axway’s platform, you can develop a successful API strategy to enable also other departments than IT to integrate. Besides hybrid integrations, Axway offers solutions for application integration, API management, managed file transfer, content collaboration, B2B integration, mobile integration.
Boomi’s distributed integration architecture provides companies with the flexibility to integrate all applications and data regardless of the number of endpoints and data volumes. Their distributed integration architecture can bridge the gap between cloud and legacy systems to enable data sharing between them.
Elastic.io’s hybrid integration platform can be a great choice for citizen integrators. The platform comes with an easy-to-use designer to help you transform your data by mapping it. The platform also has a rich library of pre-built connectors for mainstream business applications. This will speed up your integrations. The platform comes with error detection solutions, and any step of any processes can be scaled.
Liaison’s cloud platform allows for flexible integrations between any two endpoints whether they reside in the cloud, SaaS, mobile, device, or on-premises. Liaison is one of the vendors on the list that offer fully managed services to free your IT resources.
Mulesoft describes its integration platform as once you develop your integrations, you can deploy it anywhere – on-premises or in the cloud, as they are providing two platforms that function as one. Mulesoft’s enterprise service bus (ESB) Anypoint Platform takes care of the on-premises integration, while CloudHub works with the cloud-based integrations. These two platforms work together as one. Using Mulesoft will enable you to move to the cloud when you find it necessary.
Oracle’s hybrid integration platform includes Oracle SOA Cloud Service, Oracle Integration Cloud Service, and Oracle API Manager Cloud Service.
Oracle Integration Cloud can be used for application and SaaS integration, while the Oracle SOA Cloud Service is an advanced integration platform that was designed for integration developers. These products are delivered through the Oracle Cloud and provides tools for integrating the cloud and on-premises.
7. Software AG
Software AG’s webMethods Integration Cloud platform supports the hybrid integration of ERP, CRM, and warehouse management applications. Software AG’s iPaaS enables citizen integrators to easily connect the applications that they are using daily through an easy-to-use interface.
Besides the browser-based interface, the platform provides application connectors, drag-and-drop transformation, mapping, and enrichment tools, development environments with full development life-cycle support. The development of on-premises connectivity happens through the webMethods Integration Server.
The Talend Data Management Platform provides the tools to achieve connectivity between legacy, on-site, private, and public infrastructures. The platform comes with hundreds of connectors to enable data storage, data migration, and data processes regardless of the data sources.
You can sign up for a trial with Talend Cloud Integration Platform to evaluate whether it’s the tool that you’ve been looking for.
Tibco’s API-led integration approach allows you to integrate any endpoints. Their platform combines hybrid integration with a library of application connectors and solutions for full lifecycle API management both for the cloud and on-premises deployment models. People in your company with varying skills will be able to easily build and deploy integration flows to connect the applications that they need to attain data from.
Besides Liaison, Youredi is the other managed services integration provider on this list. Developing, testing, deploying, and maintaining hybrid integrations is among Youredi’s core expertise. The company has been delivering connectivity solutions for seamless real-time data flows for logistics companies. In all cases, the companies had legacy systems or EDI tools in place, and they needed to connect with external parties that have already adopted the cloud and communicate with their trading partners through APIs.
How do you choose a HIP vendor?
The process will be different for everyone. Our list provides you with a list of great iPaaS vendors that you could evaluate. Nevertheless, we suggest that you do your own research as well. The Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Integration Platform as a Service 2019 and the Forrester
NowTech iPaaS reports will be good sources for your shortlisting process.
Once you identified the vendors you are interested in, learn more about them, download their resources, read the case studies, and get in touch with them. Having an initial call will give you a good indicator if you want to continue the discussions with them.
Prepare for the discussions to present your integration cases and challenges clearly so the vendor can suggest the best way to go about it and what would it cost. Prepare your list of questions that you want to get an answer to. And don’t forget to include all the stakeholders from your organization that could help you to make the best decision.