ESB vs iPaaS - Which Integration Tool is Right for your Company?

With 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day, companies are currently under enormous pressure to find the fastest path to efficient management and cloud integration in order to gain relevant business intelligence. Without a way to capture and process this massive amount of data, it’s almost impossible to use and find value from this information. Enter data management tools.

There’s one problem though. The sheer number of data management solutions available can make it difficult to decide which applications and platforms are right for you. In this article, we’ll take a look at both ESB and iPaaS solutions, consider their strengths and weaknesses, and explore their capacity for cloud integration.

What is an ESB?

An Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) an architectural pattern that allows multiple applications to communicate with each other and to transfer data to one another. An ESB is like a switchboard that facilitates the routing of data and messages between various applications and software. ESBs have a complex architecture that is vertically scalable and are ideal for on-premises legacy integrations, although some ESBs are now capable of managing cloud-based data and applications.

What is iPaaS?

An Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) uses a lightweight, multi-tenant, and horizontally scalable architecture that is ideal for cloud integrations. This can include infrastructure features such as storage, networking, and servers.

iPaaS is ideal for companies and organizations relying on or considering cloud integration. This is because an iPaaS is more agile and adaptable than an ESB, which makes it easier to integrate new applications in an existing framework. An iPaaS might be a good tool for companies who need to perform real-time analytics or consolidate data from a variety of applications or devices into a single, unified view.

iPaaS vs. ESB — four key differences

Most companies rely on an iPaaS and/or ESBs to manage their data. Four considerations in particular are critical when it comes to understanding the differences between an ESB and an iPaaS: application integration, scalability, and multi-tenancy, and data governance.

Application integration

ESBs are known for their ability to manage complexity within local or legacy systems. This is due to its history; ESB was developed before the era of cloud integration. Although ESBs can be counted on to configure and coordinate a wide variety of applications and data, some lack the flexibility to efficiently and easily support ad hoc cloud-native integrations.

iPaaS solutions are made for the cloud. They can reduce or eliminate the need for local servers or hardware and were designed to manage integrations from cloud-native applications.  For example, when it comes to aggregating data gleaned from the Internet of Things (IoT), or third-party applications, iPaaS is known for its agility and efficiency.


Business needs change, and data management solutions must be adaptable in order to keep pace. When it comes to scalability, an ESB and an iPaaS vary in their capacity to scale. An ESB can be counted on for vertical scaling within an existing architecture, which means that an ESB can handle the expansion of existing compute resources such as power, capacity, or speed.

iPaaS is better suited for horizontal scaling, which usually means the addition of new applications or components to the existing environment.


Multi-tenancy is the capacity for multiple groups of users to access data stored on a server simultaneously. Think of financial data that is used across departments such as operations, marketing, and sales: in a multi-tenant architecture, each department can access and interact with the same data at any time.

iPaaS solutions have a clear advantage when it comes to accommodating multi-tenant architectures. As a cloud-native option, iPaaS provides real-time access to data stored in a variety of applications and locations. ESB solutions are less adept at handling this level of complexity.

Data Governance

The ability to govern data is another key difference between iPaaS and ESB. iPaaS options are typically equipped with more effective governance capabilities than ESBs, including mechanisms for data quality, data profiling, and metadata management.

ESB solutions include some data governance features; however, more robust data governance capabilities are usually found in iPaaS options. This is because iPaaS solutions were designed to integrate data from various systems while accounting for schema and other data modeling considerations. As a result, iPaaS data governance features are more comprehensive than those of ESB.

ESB vs. iPaaS — final analysis

ESBs and iPaaS each have an important role to play in your company’s data management strategy. For local or legacy systems that are primarily managed on-site, an ESB provides the reliability and functionality needed to integrate various applications and to keep data architecture healthy. iPaaS provides a robust alternative for real-time analytics, streaming data, and companies relying on cloud-native applications.

What it comes down to is the characteristics of your company. How much of an ad hoc integration pattern are you going to need for your enterprise? For a large organization with established integration standards and a more centralized IT function, an ESB is a great complement to the multi-tenancy, agility, and ad hoc integrations you require. But for smaller, newer organizations that require ad hoc integrations and greater federation of integration capabilities, an iPaaS is well-suited for your needs. Many organizations use both.

A unified data integration platform can simplify the processes of data migration and management and make the choice between iPaaS and ESB easy. If you are looking for iPaaS capabilities to complement your existing ESB, you might take a look at Talend’s Cloud API Services.

For a single unified solution with both ESB and iPaaS capabilities built in, Talend Data Fabric can help you integrate any type of data, from any source or application. It provides integration solutions that automate and streamline ETL, data processing, and data management to boost efficiency and reduce your spend. Plus, it contains advanced data governance and data quality features to provide data you can trust and help guarantee compliance with data protection regulations. Download a free trial today to start extracting the full value out of your enterprise data.

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