What is Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS)?

  • By Kavishka Fernando
  • 7 Dec, 2021

iPaaS or integration Platform as a Service is a cloud-based integration platform that enables application and data integration along with integration between multiple types of APIs and systems, whether they are traditional on-premises monoliths or modern cloud-native systems.

With the advent of cloud computing, many organizations use cloud APIs instead of on-premises systems running in different environments due to advantages such as security, scalability, and modernized features provided by cloud providers. Hence, it makes sense to move integration to the cloud too. In addition, organizations themselves expose a large number of APIs. By connecting these internal and external APIs through API programming, businesses can create meaningful digital experiences and perform digital transformation themselves, similar to how Uber transformed the taxi industry. Since programming in the cloud often involves integrating APIs, iPaaS can also be thought of as a cloud environment that enables API programming.

Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) provides many advantages over traditional integration solutions like the enterprise service bus (ESB):

  • Enables workforce mobility by allowing users to access the integration platform anytime, anywhere. 
  • Multiple users can use a logically separated but single instance of the integration platform (multi-tenant architecture)
  • Eliminates the need to set up and maintain software and underlying hardware by providing a distributed, scalable architecture out-of-the-box.
  • Provides the most commonly used enterprise integration patterns and standards.
  • Enables a real-time feedback loop since usage data can be collected live.
  • Affordable, up-front pricing based on business needs.
  • Simplifies maintenance and upgrade to new versions saving money for both iPaaS providers and consumers. 

What are the Challenges of Integration?

In today’s technology landscape, there are multiple products that meet every conceivable business challenge, whether it be customer management, advertising and promotion, payroll creation, or content management. These products are usually provided as a service through easy-to-set-up interfaces and cloud APIs.

Unless you are a new digital company, enterprises will often employ a plethora of these services as well as their existing legacy systems for day-to-day business processes. It is necessary to connect all these disparate systems in order to move data seamlessly from one system to another and collect information that can be analyzed for intelligent business insights. Years ago, traditional integration solutions such as ESBs were the best option when all systems were run on-premises and few options were available. However, a multitude of deployment options and the need for scalability and high availability across both monoliths and cloud apps have paved the way for more flexible and robust integration solutions. These solutions should not only integrate any system but should also complement those multiple systems at each level, including deployment.

iPaaS vs. Enterprise Integration

Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) is enterprise integration done in the cloud. iPaaS standardizes how you integrate applications into organizations and supports automating workflows between existing systems while providing integration functionality out-of-the-box. This includes how business applications are monitored, maintained, and updated. With the right iPaaS, anyone in an organization can help in building, maintaining, and managing integrations, whether it be line-of-business users, citizen integrators, or technical integration professionals.

On the other hand, an enterprise integration platform requires integration experts to build integrations for enterprise integration scenarios.

iPaaS Capabilities and Functionalities

Some of the key capabilities and functionalities of an Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) are as follows:

  • End-to-end low-code and code-based programming environments for developing, debugging, and testing integration processes.
  • Includes a comprehensive set of integration tools and pre-built data connectors for SaaS applications and APIs.
  • Supports multiple communication protocols and translates messages between them.
  • Ability to map, process and transform data of different formats.
  • Platform DevOps and application administration processes can be performed with ease.
  • Support for hybrid integration that involves on-premises applications and cloud applications.
  • Provide flexibility to create custom connectors.
  • Supports real-time processing and batch data integration.
  • Observability support for monitoring and troubleshooting applications. 
  • Higher-level business analytics that support business decisions. 

iPaaS Enterprise Use Cases

Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) may be used to solve a wide range of business integration problems involving numerous platforms and data sources. Here are a few examples of iPaaS applications.

  • Application-to-application integration - Connect apps, data, or systems that are on-premises or in cloud environments and implement data flows to manage integrations.
  • Microservices integration - Facilitates an organization to create and publish APIs to support microservices.
  • B2B integration - Handle B2B integrations with third-party providers without the need for custom integrations or a common API.
  • Data integration - Manage data format translation and validate real-time synchronized data.
  • Platform integrations - Connect different platforms which can reside on-premises or in multiple cloud environments.
  • Big data integration - Handle multiple complex integrations related to business analytics, machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence.
  • IoT device integration - Integrates between IoT devices, management tools, and APIs for data collection and processing between multiple cloud platforms.
  • Multiple cloud integration - Manage and implement integrations among various public cloud resources.
  • Event stream integration -A single platform to handle complex interaction in event-driven microservices design.

iPaaS and Low Code

As Marc Andressen stated over a decade ago,Software is eating the world”, is forcing every company to build software, regardless of their industry. This creates a huge demand for programmers, making it difficult to hire individuals with suitable technical knowledge and skills. Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) supports a low-code way to develop integration flows through interactive graphical user interfaces where users can drag-and-drop elements, and use pre-built connectors and configurable components. Furthermore, through no-code experiences, iPaaS enables users to pick pre-coded integration templates and reuse them with little or no coding. Low-code and no code support allow individuals with little to no coding knowledge, or even non-technical users to design and build integration flows visually.

In this way, companies can now rely on less technical users including business users and citizen developers to create integrations and digital experiences. Low-code in iPaaS also enables faster go-to-market of applications and increases the overall productivity of users.

How do you Choose the Right iPaaS?

When selecting an iPaaS provider, it is important to remember both the functional and non-functional requirements. All iPaaS’ on the market will offer advantages of cloud services including multi-tenant architecture and the ease of setup, maintenance, and updates. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

  • The chosen iPaaS integration platform should support low code-based applications throughout its lifecycle. This includes debugging, collaborative development, improvement, and redeployment cycles.
  • It should provide a collaborative platform for developers of all skill levels by enabling developers to move from low-code to source code and easily switch back and forth.
  • Deep observability is a key requirement in allowing users to troubleshoot.
  • Once the code is written, the iPaaS integration platform should take care of complexities including Kubernetes, DevOps flow, high availability, and autoscaling. This allows organizations to move from ideation to production in minutes, instead of weeks.
  • Assesshow the selected iPaaS incorporates new integration technologies such as the inclusion of artificial intelligence (AI) assisted development to improve the developer experience.

Read our extensive guide on How to Choose an EiPaaS Platform to learn more.

If you’re looking for the right Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) solutions for your enterprise, consider Choreo — a low-code, cloud-native IDE for creating integrations, automating workflows, building microservices, and API management. Users can write applications using visual low- code or source code and easily switch back and forth, boosting productivity and enabling collaboration. Choreo allows users to build, test, deploy, observe, and scale applications in minutes with AI by their side. Users simply write the code, while we take care of the rest (Kubunetates, high availability, scalability, CI/CD pipelines, etc), so you don’t have to.

Do take Choreo for a spin (it has a free-forever tier) and give us feedback. We look forward to seeing you there!

Photo by fabio.

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