Large enterprises often have applications, services, and data that exist in different environments. These enterprises use integration platforms as a service or iPaaS to integrate applications that live on-premise and in public and private clouds.
Most iPaaS platforms provide standard connection connectors, business rules, and workflows. These connectors help services across different environments talk to each other quickly. However, some also offer custom kits for use cases that do not fit in the standard workflows.
iPaaS providers host applications and services on their infrastructure and are responsible for its management, maintenance, and governance. On the enterprise side, the developers are responsible for building and deploying the business logic and functionality.
What are the advantages of bringing an iPaaS platform?
An iPaaS platform acts as an intermediary between applications and the infrastructure. iPaaS providers issue and deploy software and hardware updates to customers as and when they become available. This managed service reduces the maintenance overhead from IT teams and can be very cost-effective.
iPaaS platforms bring a vast array of connectors that help enterprises integrate applications and services from multiple providers. In addition, developers work with user-friendly interfaces that they use to configure their integration options and business workflows.
Scalable and adaptable
As enterprises move towards a cloud-native architecture, iPaaS is gaining more prominence. These platforms essentially can integrate with almost all popular vendors of today and yesterday. Platforms can accommodate any one-off use case with ease and even create custom connectors where one does not exist. These platforms can grow as the business grows.
Applications in disparate environments communicate with each other using different data formats and standards. iPaaS platforms convert non-standardized data into standardized formats. This feature is handy for future-proofing applications as newer applications can use standardized formats while legacy applications can be modernized quickly.
Faster time to value
iPaaS platforms process data in real-time. This ability ensures that legacy applications can now provide services that are in tune with modern performance standards. iPaaS development is natively in the cloud. Hence post-development, the application can be packaged to be deployed in the cloud or on-premise. This flexibility offers faster time to value for customers.
What are the areas where iPaaS platforms lack?
A missing baseline
iPaaS platforms have been talked about for a while but are relatively new. Hence, customers do not know what base features these platforms must contain. Moreover, since every integration is different, customers almost always have unique needs. Thus, while they may find a platform that meets their current needs, it is difficult to figure out if it’ll be suitable for future scalability and if it can adapt deftly to novel business models.
Security concerns and compliance issues
iPaaS providers do take security seriously and provide the latest updates and patches as they become available. However, they also provide a user-friendly approach to integration. As a result, users may inadvertently create APIs that expose confidential data or unknowingly breach set compliance standards. While there is inherent security built-in, it is difficult to know how the data is handled and exposed outside the enterprise. Thus, while the platform takes care of security, the ultimate compliance responsibility lies with the customer.
Overall higher cost
While iPaaS platforms may be exhaustive, not all of its features make sense or are even needed. While it does reduce time to market and offers benefits that you couldn’t build yourself, it comes at a marked-up price. On the other hand, if the in-house integration team is efficient and knowledgeable, one may not need a souped-up iPaaS platform.
All iPaaS platforms support interoperability between its products (for instance, an iPaaS from AWS will work seamlessly if you integrate products between the same vendor family). However, they may not be able to work just as seamlessly with other vendors. This creates lock-in and may somewhat limit future scalability and agility.
Why should an organization consider iPaaS platforms?
Many large enterprises have IT teams or an ongoing engagement with a long-term technology vendor for ongoing work. In such scenarios, one may wonder why iPaaS would make sense.
Reduce management overhead
For one, with a managed service that iPaaS vendors offer, the management overhead is substantially reduced. This reduced overhead means fewer administrative costs for the enterprise. At the same time, since the vendors work with multiple customers, they are ahead of the learning curve and understand how to manage complex integrations better. This know-how is often valuable when modernizing legacy systems and can substantially speed up the process.
Minimizing business disruption in live environments
iPaaS platforms essentially cater to an organization’s unique needs and often do so while managing increasing complexity, the scale of data, diverse data formats, etc. In addition, they often provide real-time integration support to minimize disruptions.
The iPaaS platform creates a fabric of virtual environments that seamlessly integrate legacy applications with modern ones, exchange data between various components, and deploy resources between multiple environments.
Migration from acquired or merged organizations
iPaaS’ core benefit is its ability to deploy or connect software applications that exist on different platforms. This situation is almost always the case when companies merge or become part of other companies. iPaaS platforms often provide dashboards and monitoring tools that oversee the integration process. Many platforms also offer dashboards that let you view and standardize spending.
When two companies marry each other, IT teams often struggle to identify the various integration points across the two companies, operational complexity, and security needs. iPaaS platforms can set up triggers for such points that notify all other systems and administrators when a pre-configured event occurs.
Manage shadow IT
The resurgence of cloud computing and its availability means that anyone with a credit card can access any Saas application instantly. However, since these applications do not come with any instruction manuals, users create excessive redundancy, increase operational costs, and integration problems.
iPaaS platforms unify the view of applications and associated infrastructure across the entire organization. This unified view lets departments see which applications already exist, their availability, and possible integration methods to fulfill current needs. This unified view also prevents vendor-specific lock-in with your data and applications.
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