Cloud computing has completely changed the landscape of the IT industry. The accessibility and ease of use of cloud technology have turned it into a booming industry. According to Forrester’s 2018 Predictions report, the total global cloud market will rise to a staggering $178 billion in 2018, and will continue to grow at a 22% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in the coming years.
But the rise of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and other cloud services has brought on new challenges to companies as well. Combining on-premise applications, cloud software solutions and social platforms makes the integration process much more complicated.
While point-to-point integration code has been effective in the past, the integration solutions of the future will need to be easily adaptable to the ever-changing technology and easily scalable. Luckily, there are already solutions that can offer all the flexibility and functionality that’s required for a seamless cloud integration. And one new model of cloud integration, called Integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) is already setting itself apart from others.
What is iPaaS?
An increasingly popular cloud-based integration solution, iPaaS provides businesses with an effective way to integrate different cloud-based services with each other. This allows you to reduce or completely eliminate cloud silos.
The reason why iPaaS is gaining traction is that it solves a lot of common problems that arise when trying to integrate multiple cloud-based systems. It serves as an adapter for developers that can help with flow management, integration of applications and much more.
As a next-generation solution that helps integrate cloud-based software solutions with each other, as well as with on-premise applications, the effectiveness of iPaaS has allowed it to outperform many of the more traditional forms of middleware.
Why is iPaaS so effective?
The main reason for the rising popularity of iPaaS is that today’s organizations face unique challenges of integrating numerous legacy systems with modern cloud-based software solutions.
Since the process of moving towards cloud-based solutions is gradual, there’s a big demand for solutions that can help integrate older systems with newer architecture. The shift from on-premise solutions to a hybrid model, where on-premise and cloud solutions work together, is already happening. While it’s only starting, the process is unavoidable for all organizations, so it’s better to start now and reap the benefits quicker.
Key Features of iPaaS
With the rapid growth of companies providing SaaS and PaaS solutions, as well as the growing need for mobile accessibility and Big Data processing, integrations have become much more complex. But while transitioning from on-premise to a modern hybrid or cloud-based architecture isn’t easy, it’s a direction that the industry’s going in. Organizations will be forced to adapt sooner or later.
In fact, according to a 2016 Cloud Research Report by McAfee, 93% of organizations already utilize cloud services in some form. This means that at least part of the data is no longer centrally stored in corporate data centers, instead scattered across multiple locations on-site and on the cloud.
But while iPaaS solutions can be very effective in making the integration process more seamless, finding the right solution still requires you to identify the most important features that must be present in a platform.
To help make that process easier, here are a few key features that are an important part of a comprehensive iPaaS solution:
The ability to manage integrations from a centralized location is essential in order to make the process as simple as possible. An iPaaS solution can help you gain a single view of all your integrations from a user-friendly, web-based console.
This allows you to effectively create, monitor and manage integrations across the organization, which helps you quickly connect almost any tool. This allows you to quickly scale and develop whenever needed.
iPaaS also provides real-time data connections between all applications, which is absolutely essential for decision-makers at the organization. Having all the information available in real time allows you to have the full view of the company’s operations, and enabling executives to make informed and more accurate decisions.
What’s more, with an iPaaS solution, it’s possible to go beyond just the connection of data. It also permits advanced customization of how different systems communicate with each other, so you have complete control over the entire integration process.
This is very important for companies that want to ensure that their data is always secure. Manual data transfers pose many risks of the information getting lost or stolen, but with Integration Platform-as-a-Software solutions, it’s easy to account for all the data that’s transferred.
Many comprehensive iPaaS solutions come with API management functionality, which is becoming a very important part of quickly accessing and sharing real-time data. With API management, companies can have a single platform for managing all of the APIs with convenient scaling possibilities. This provides complete control of the creation, deployment and management of APIs, allowing for a much quicker way to add new functions as they become necessary.
But while iPaaS does show great potential for API management, there are still areas where Integration Platform-as-a-Service solutions are lacking. This is especially true when talking about more advanced API management capabilities, such as a developer portal or analytics.
While this functionality is already being added to some iPaaS solutions, it may take a while until iPaaS can completely take over the role of API lifecycle management.
Cloud B2B Gateway
Electronic Data Interchange, or EDI, is a popular solution for system-to-system exchange of documents that’s been a long-time industry standard for transferring document data. But iPaaS is quickly changing the way in which businesses connect data flows between cloud and on-premise processes, making the entire process a lot quicker and easier.
While EDI is still widely used as an effective method to transfer data such as orders or invoices between businesses, iPaaS provides the same functions without the need to install and maintain on-premise software.
Not all of today’s iPaaS solutions have EDI gateway functionality, but those that do can act as a complete, cloud-based EDI solution that offers features such as data transfers, workflow configuration, transaction monitoring and much more. With iPaaS, it’s possible to track all EDI communications between businesses, allowing you to see the status of all the documents that are exchanged, so you can quickly resend the ones that failed delivery.
Things to Consider Before Implementation
The specific needs of a company looking to implement a cloud integration platform can be different, but there are some aspects that are important to consider when narrowing down the list of potential choices.
An important part of any iPaaS solution is its flexibility. In order to reap the most from an integration system, it must be able to adapt to your needs at any particular time, allowing you to decrease costs if the usage goes down. Since it’s a pay-as-you-go solution, it’s important to be able to adjust your spending depending on your month-to-month needs and usage rate.
Another thing to consider when looking for iPaaS is the importance of a reliable core integration engine that can provide a secure way to operate. In order for the solution to be effective, it has to provide a wide range of advanced tools for monitoring application performance and auditing.
Finally, iPaaS must be able to adapt to the quickly-changing landscape of today’s technology. This includes being built on Modern Standards such as REST and JSON and the ability to work with both API and EDI.
Here are some of the biggest benefits of implementing an iPaaS solution:
Effective Use of All Tools
The most prominent benefit of iPaaS is that it helps seamlessly connect different software applications and synchronize data. This allows you to achieve much better efficiency and provide much better visibility of you business operations through comprehensive reports. With all of the business tools working in harmony and sharing data, decision makers at the company have a complete picture of all your processes. They can then make informed decisions that, over time, result in improved business performance and increased profits.
Increase in Productivity
Another way that iPaaS solutions can be very beneficial to organizations is by helping increase productivity when developing integration flows. By providing monitoring and management functionality, you can prevent failures and add new members to the development process quickly and securely. The intuitive and user-friendly design of most iPaaS solutions also allows you to speed up the process of connecting multiple systems, doing so in the most cost-effective way possible.
Improved Decision Making
In the fast-paced business world, decision makers need to be able to react to changes on a moment’s notice, and every wrong decision can have huge consequences. That’s why it’s so important to have as much information as possible in order to make the right call in every situation.
Because iPaaS can greatly reduce the gap between data entry and business intelligence, organizations have the opportunity to track real-time data about their operations and make judgments that are as accurate as possible.
Since iPaaS solutions operate on the cloud, data can be accessed from multiple devices and from any location. This kind of access means that the time it takes to find relevant information is cut down dramatically, providing an edge when it’s needed the most.
According to a 2014 Eurostat report, 57% of large organizations and 38% of SMBs that participated in the survey attributed risks of a security breach as the biggest reason for limiting the use of cloud computing services. With the help of comprehensive iPaaS solutions, the risk of data breaches can be greatly reduced. It offers essential security features such as real-time intruder alerts and fraud detection, as well as easily accessible reports.
Another reason why security is greatly improved with iPaaS is that the solution is regularly updated, which ensures that the latest features and security measures are always in place to offer maximum protection. There are also proven and tested security protocols for employees that are granted access to the system, which ensure that only authorized personnel can access it and make changes.
Top 3 iPaaS Vendors
Since iPaaS is quickly gaining traction, new solutions are becoming available every day. But to make your selection process easier, here are a few that have already proven to be both reliable and effective:
Jitterbit is a data and application integration suite that’s gaining recognition as one of the leading iPaaS solutions out there. The system provides a cost-effective and user-friendly way to create and manage a wide range of integrations.
With the help of Jitterbit, connecting all kinds of different cloud-based, Software-as-a-Service and on-premise applications is much easier thanks to its easy-to-use API creation technology that helps bring legacy systems back to life. The iPaaS solution can easily handle even complex large-scale integrations of big organizations, making it much easier for developers to connect multiple systems with the help of Jitterbit Enterprise MX 3.0, which leverages industry standard protocols as well as open source code.
The software’s user management supports a multi-user environment that provides seamless collaboration when larger teams are working on a project. This allows you to greatly increase the efficiency of the project because it’s easy to communicate what needs to be done, avoiding confusion.
CloudHub by MuleSoft is one of the most popular iPaaS solutions available. It was designed specifically to fit the needs of enterprises that need to take advantage of the benefits of cloud-based applications, while securely connecting them with on-premise systems.
MuleSoft is perfect for companies that aren’t yet ready to fully commit to the cloud yet, but want to start reaping the benefits that it has to offer today. With MuleSoft’s Mule ESB, companies can use a reliable and proven on-premise solution before painlessly transitioning to MuleSoft’s exclusively cloud-based CloudHub when they’re ready.
Mule ESB is one of the most popular open-source ESB solutions with a robust list of features, allowing you to bridge applications together — whether on-premise or on the cloud — which makes the entire process much simpler.
SAP offers a comprehensive iPaaS solution as part of its broader SAP cloud Platform, formerly known as SAP Hana Cloud Platform. It provides wide-ranging features such as B2B integration, workflow management, Internet of Things (IoT) integration, stream analytics and much more.
These features are available in different packages of the software, but the most important one is the SAP Cloud Platform Integration, which helps easily connect both SAP and non-SAP cloud-based and on-premise applications without the need for extensive coding.
Another big benefit of SAP Cloud Integration is its security and reliability – SAP has been working on its iPaaS solution since 2016 and managed to create a safe processing and data integration platform.