There are so many myths around iPaaS. Yes, it is a relatively new term, but integration platforms have been around for quite a few years already. Still, we often get asked that what iPaaS solutions we provide and whether an integration platform can tackle specific scenarios.
This is why we wanted to write an article to describe seven iPaaS solutions that are frequently used by our customers, and probably you need to use some of these, too.
iPaaS is a versatile platform
In one of our previous articles, we defined iPaaS as the following:
“iPaaS (integration platform as a service) is a suite of cloud solutions enabling the development, execution, and governance of a wide range of integration scenarios, such as data, application, system, cloud, SOA, process, internet of things, API, and B2B integration scenarios. It can connect any combination of on-premise or cloud technologies within an organization or across multiple ones. Thanks to this functionality the perfect hybrid integration platform has evolved out of iPaaS. As an integration platform is so versatile, no wonder that has been gaining popularity also during the last few years.”
Sure, some iPaaS is only for connecting your ERP system to Salesforce through pre-built connectors. But when you are looking for an enterprise integration platform, you need more power from an iPaaS.
This article helps you with understanding what you can do with a platform that is built to tackle complex integration challenges – let it be data, system, or perhaps IoT integration.
Variety of use cases
Often when you read about iPaaS, you will read about data integration. Nevertheless, that is only one example of all the different solutions an integration platform can be used for.
Sure, the solutions differ vendor by vendor. That’s why we suggest that you also check out our summary on 22 of the best iPaaS vendor, so you can evaluate what solutions they offer and how does that fit into your integration strategy.
One of our most successful blog post was ‘Why data is your most valuable asset?'. We live in a world where data is everywhere, and probably you are generating more and more.
Utilizing the information can be invaluable. Still, enterprises struggle with making sense of their data. The reason for that is that information is siloed. There is not a single place where all relevant data would be available for the data scientists that could make sense of it. This is a severe disadvantage and a challenge that need to be fixed.
No wonder that the need for a data integration solution is skyrocketing.
Data integration is bridging the gap between a variety of sources, such as systems, applications, or databases, to transfer the data to a location where it is available for all the right stakeholders.
The data that is available in a single place can be utilized for improving and optimizing services and processes to create a better customer experience. For this, the quality and the timeliness of the data is crucial.
Now, let’s answer the question that why iPaaS instead of other modes?
First of all, with iPaaS, it’s possible to connect any systems and applications (read more about it in a bit).
Second, data governance can be simply implemented, so the data is always in a heterogeneous format, it’s validated, and enriched if necessary.
Third, you cannot rely on batch processes anymore. You need to process and transfer the data in real-time.
Let us tell you one example.
An enterprise that is continuously acquiring new entities needs to be able to share data with all the ecosystem. Nevertheless, some of the new companies they just acquired are using legacy systems, databases, some may even use cloud-based SaaS.
How can they ensure that they have a 360-degree view of the customers and their journeys?
They needed to ensure that all the data of one single customer can be found on one platform so they can personalize the customer experience by knowing everything about her/him. To achieve this, they used data integration with iPaaS. Not only because of the benefits of data integration described above but because the platform satisfies their other integration needs as well.
And one more thing. One of the most significant advantages of an enterprise integration platform solution is that it can get the data from behind firewalls, too.
Our last blog was a very detailed explanation of what system integration is. If that is something you are looking for, you should check out that article.
“System integration is the process of connecting different sub-systems (components) into a single larger system that functions as one. With regards to software solutions, system integration is typically defined as the process of linking together various IT systems, services and/or software to enable all of them to work functionally together.”
Let’s not go deeper into what system integration is, but instead, continue with the example from the previous chapter.
Data integration and system integration is correlated with each other, as we already briefly touched this topic.
To enable the transmission of information, the enterprise in our example need to be able to connect their systems for increased productivity and better quality of operations.
Where does it get challenging?
In our example, they acquired other companies. Typically, all these companies use different systems built at different times. These systems have very different specs, communicate through different protocols, and use different data standards and format.
Yet, they need to be able to communicate.
iPaaS can overcome all these challenges and connect any systems whether they are legacy ones or built just recently. Practically, it doesn’t matter where they are located, a cloud-based platform can connect them.
Cloud application integration
Even though, our example enterprise has tackled their system integration challenges, what about when they need to connect modern cloud-based applications?
iPaaS can easily connect any application in the cloud, as well as software as a service (SaaS) solutions, too. As SaaS is increasingly popular, the connectivity between software cannot be overlooked either.
When an enterprise is acquiring new entities, they cannot avoid hybrid integrations. If you want to know more of hybrid integration enablement, we suggest you read our Hybrid integration Warfare blog.
In this blog, we focus more on why in our example a hybrid integration solution is necessary.
As this company is aiming to integrate a variety of systems and applications to have information available in a single source, hybrid integration is necessary.
Under hybrid integration, we mean the need for enabling connectivity across systems (and often legacy systems) and modern applications and cloud-based software.
Although, Gartner talks a lot about hybrid integration platforms, in reality, only a few vendors can provide customers with genuinely hybrid integrations that are satisfying even the most complex cases.
Business process integration (BPI)
Business process integration (BPI) is essential for increasing your productivity both within and outside your organization.
Business process integration refers to the ability to connect external and internal business processes to enable their interoperability. iPaaS creates the bridge between systems and applications so that multiple business processes can be embedded into a single application.
Internet of Things integration
For sure you have read about how the Internet of Things (IoT) devices are gaining popularity – especially in supply chain management for tracking assets.
At the same time, articles rarely focus on the other side of the coin: how important integration is in the utilization of IoT.
The concept is single: the IoT devices gather data – for example about the status of goods and assets or perhaps about their users. Nevertheless, this data needs to be mined for insights.
Mining of the data cannot happen without a middleware that is able to transfer the information to business applications that can then make sense of the intelligence.
How does this work in practice?
In practice, an integration platform act as the middle layer for the IoT integration solution. As with iPaaS, it’s easy to create new connections, new IoT devices can be quickly added to the solution, and the solution can be scaled if the volume of the data would suddenly grow.
The platform provides APIs for the gateway to transferring information from the IoT device to your systems or business application. If you want to know more about the process, what is exactly happening when you connect IoT devices to your systems and applications, we suggest you read our detailed blog on how IoT integrations work.
So, if you consider our case company, how do they benefit from using an iPaaS for their IoT integration as well?
Clearly, they realized that even though the number of IoT devices that they would use in the future would multiple, that wouldn't hurt their costs. This applies to all integration scenarios, but in the case of IoT, it’s increasingly important.
Business-to-business integration scenarios can be incredibly complex due to the number of trading partners that need to be connected. The challenge is not only that the number of trading partners is quickly growing, but that these parties use very different systems, applications, cloud-based software that all utilize different data formats and standards.
The problem is that traditional integration tools and methods are not efficient enough for tackling these challenges rapidly.
Maybe you are using an Enterprise Service Bus for managing your B2B integrations. It may work just fine if you don’t need to add new connections to the solutions.
If you need to keep adding new connections – like in case of our example company above – that can be handled a lot faster when all their integrations are built on top of a cloud-based integration platform.
Developing one connection for months is unacceptable today. When businesses use iPaaS for B2B communication, they can be connected in as little as half an hour (this is true, we have been able to develop and deploy new connections that fast) or in complex cases (that would have generally lasted for up to 6-8 months) can be done in 2 weeks.
iPaaS is centralizing all your integrations
Integrations are so overlooked. Sure, it’s not as fancy as software development for example. On the other hand, today, integration is the core of everything.
Right now you may do some integrations by hand coding, you may have an EDI VAN for B2B communications, and use an ESB for connections. Then you suddenly need IoT integrations, and you have to look for a new vendor.
Instead, you can have an iPaaS to centralize all your integrations, and all the action would happen on top of one platform. This articles aim was to show how many different integration solutions you can develop with one powerful tool.
Besides that, an enterprise integration platform has two more benefits in our opinion: if you choose a vendor that offers managed services, you will get your integrations done a lot faster than if you have had a dedicated team (of course, your team can learn to use it too, if you prefer) and so long, those substantial integration invoices you’ve been receiving during the last years.
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