What is iPaaS?
An integration platform as a service (iPaaS) is a managed solution for hosting, developing, and integrating cloud data and applications. The best iPaaS solutions include easy, graphic tools to help visualize and work with an overall business intelligence picture.
Also referred to as a “cloud integration platform,” an iPaaS can provide everything from infrastructure and data warehousing to application design and DevOps environments. In an increasingly cloud-based world, the right iPaaS solution can vastly simplify the integration of data, applications, security, and business compliance.
Whether you are looking to launch a cloud integration as an expansion of the physical environment, or architect a pure cloud ecosystem, choosing an iPaaS provider is key to successfully adopting cloud technologies in your business. Below we’ll take a look at how an iPaaS is used, tools and options, and getting started with a cloud integration model that will uniquely mirror your business needs.
The Forrester Wave™: Strategic iPaaS and Hybrid Integration Platforms, Q1 2019 now.
iPaaS in Modern IT Environments
Today, organizations can use iPaaS offerings to design everything—including the network itself—in the cloud. Given the growing availability and reliability of the cloud, some businesses are built entirely on integrated platform services.
Some ways industry leaders are leveraging iPaaS technologies:
- Self-service data preparation that includes integration flows, such as the creation of reusable data preparation processes that will deliver data to self-service analytics and BI tools.
- B2B data exchanges for secure data flows within partner networks. This eliminates the need to write code based on APIs and speeds the process of onboarding customers and partners.
- Sales lead-management functions that collect attendee contact information for live or online events, and quickly integrate it into a CMS or marketing automation platform.
- Leveraging cloud technologies to streamline complex integration flows, improve efficiencies, manage resources better, and reduce costs.
- Embedded integration offerings that enable customers to handle straightforward data synchronization and migration tasks without tasking their IT teams.
Complete iPaaS solutions blend tools and services into a service oriented architecture (SOA) where infrastructure, software, data, and other operations interact in a responsive ecosystem—and put it all on a screen for simplified control. This gives organizations the ability to share resources and information across applications, build improvements on the fly, and deliver products to market at a much faster rate than before cloud integration platforms.
iPaaS and Multitenancy
Another advantage of iPaaS is simplified software multitenancy. In earlier cloud design models a single instance of a running software application was deployed each time a customer or tenant required interaction. If a thousand customers interacted with an environment at once, a thousand software instances accommodated them.
But with software multitenancy a single instance can use resource sharing on the iPaaS and serve tenants around the globe. This single instance also provides a lone point of updates and changes, so minor tweaks won’t require massive enterprise rollouts. Multitenancy can greatly reduce network overhead and further contributes to lowered total ownership costs.
iPaaS vs. ESB
Like iPaaS, electronic service bus (ESB) systems provide a layer of middleware used to manage and share data and application components across the enterprise. ESB solutions exist on premise and help integrate data with the cloud, providing environments with many similarities to hybrid cloud solutions.
But the differences are many and critical. If ESB laid the groundwork for what would build into iPaaS, the next generation of cloud integration platform performs functions its forerunner can’t. Some of these include:
- Remote hosting - ESBs are generally on-premise solutions that act as a middle layer between local data and services, and the cloud. But iPaaS is designed to operate from the cloud, either entirely or in a hybrid environment where management tools are hosted remotely rather than locally.
- Multitenancy - This critical benefit of modern app development is not available under ESB platforms, as ESB lacks the ability to host multiple users from single software instances. Without multitenancy, organizations lose access to one of the most powerful emerging technologies in software design and deployment.
- SaaS operations - ESB systems can be modified with middleware to manage integration from cloud-based SaaS, so organizations with lighter overall needs and existing investment in ESBs can reap the benefits of SaaS. But ESBs are considered more ‘cloud-capable’ than a platform for true cloud integration, so emergent applications and services that assume the cloud as the standard will likely become increasingly hard to manage through ESB platforms.
- Custom coding requirements - While iPaaS is a hosted service that applies updates, security fixes, and other refinements to an environment automatically, traditional ESB platforms don’t respond as capably to changes in remote services like SaaS. IT resources can quickly bog down in patching and fixing the way back to functionality. In fact, failure to use the right coding tools can increase maintenance costs by as much as 200 percent.
- Real-time response - Business—and threats to it on your network—move in real-time. Modern iPaaS is closing the gap between data ingestion and real-time business intelligence, empowering companies to move from reactive to proactive business intelligence. Emerging service areas like the Internet of Things (IoT) require instant connection between users and their devices, so lags in data integration translate to inferior service. Future markets will be less tolerant of data integration lagging far behind real-time, which means iPaaS is positioned to become the standard operating platform.
For organizations faced with future scaling, or new CIO’s tasked with deciding on a data integration architecture, iPaaS is probably the best option.
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4 Key Features of a Top iPaaS
The platform and tools used to build a data warehouse will determine how big and how efficiently it can grow. Though the cloud has infinitely broadened the scope of how to use and integrate data, choosing the right partner and tools from so many options can be daunting. Look for these four key features:
- Easy to manage virtual infrastructure - Versatile iPaaS providers integrate seamlessly with locally hosted virtual architecture, or with industry leading cloud platforms like AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Cloudera Altus, Snowflake, Salesforce and more. Regardless of the current design, an iPaaS should host it now and be capable of utilizing other cloud technologies with no loss in manageability.
- Data warehousing and integration - Business intelligence can be the difference between profit and loss, so the chosen platform should be able to share data in near real-time with applications, data stores, and more. A flexible iPaaS solution that accounts for hot, cold, working, and ever-expanding data handling will be a baseline requirement for future networks.
- Application development and continuous delivery - An iPaaS should allow developments teams to develop internally or rely on cloud tools to design, integrate, and deliver applications across the enterprise. Take advantage of testing and deployment automation to maximize developer team potential and go to market faster with secure, scalable applications that operate across all popular environments.
- Security and compliance - The right iPaaS partner offers critical business security like fraud detection, real-time intruder alerts and response, and easy-to-read audit and reporting screens. Additionally, iPaaS should ensure compliance with industry standards like those mandated by the Payment Card Security Standards Council and the GDPR. Executing mandatory audits and visualizing threats on iPaaS-provided interfaces relieves a huge workload from internal IT experts and greatly simplifies cloud integration.
Select the iPaaS partner solution that will lay a stable groundwork for an infinitely scalable enterprise, and that meet the biggest data integration/business intelligence challenges with the smallest possible impact on the budget.
Getting Started with iPaaS
As modern businesses struggle to find the right solutions for hosting, developing, and integrating cloud data and applications, Talend provides the data agility to meet any challenge.
Get started today with a free download to see how Talend’s centralized, GUI management platform can simplify infrastructure management, turn your big data into business intelligence, take the mystery out of security and risk compliance, and more!