If you are in any way associated with technology, you must have heard about the Software as a Service or SaaS.
A SaaS agency offers businesses software solutions as a subscription. The subscription package offered by the SaaS company includes the software solution along with the technical support, upgradation options, and customer services, as a means to maximize utilization of software solutions by clients.
A popular example of a SaaS company is HubSpot that is used by millions of businesses across the world. The HubSpot subscription includes service software, along with marketing, and sales features to help businesses truly leverage the software solution to grow business.
However, there’s rarely a standalone software that caters to the needs and requirements of businesses. This means that businesses will often opt-in for some plugin, widget, or some other software to complement existing software, in search of the perfect solution.
That’s because businesses today are looking for an immediate solution, instant feedback, and access to everything they need.
However, from the business perspective, it’s not always feasible to keep adding different tools and software to the existing business infrastructure. And it’s not just about the added pricing of these solutions, but also getting all these different software to integrate is a difficult task to achieve.
Businesses today need seamless integration of all different software that can ensure constant data flow across various business functions, which is something that’s hard to achieve with the traditional SaaS routing.
Fortunately, there is a way out…
iPaaS is the solution
iPaaS represents the ideal integration model for businesses that delivers a unified solution to businesses by enabling easy integration of otherwise disjointed systems. The iPaaS acts as the communication conduit across multiple systems, thereby enabling easy and consistent data sharing between all different business systems.
By offering endless integration possibilities to businesses, iPaaS has become a crucial component for all business models.
Here in this blog, we will be looking closely at the different types of iPaaS, how it world and the pros and cons of iPaaS for businesses
What is an iPaaS?
As mentioned above, businesses today run multiple software to handle and monitor various business functions. However, to be able to leverage the full potential of all the software, businesses need seamless integration of all the software that allows for a consistent flow of data. Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) brings businesses an ideal solution to synchronize various crucial functions like marketing, sales, operations, and others and improve communication between different silos. Thereby, enabling companies to optimally utilize available resources for business growth.
iPaaS also enables companies offering software solutions to expand the functionality of their software by integrating with other software, instead of having to develop new services.
For instance, a company selling scheduling software may have functionalities to book, manage, and send appointment reminders to clients. However, after some time the company may realize that its clients are also looking for online payment options. Now, there can be two routes for the company; either they can develop new functionality to integrate with their existing software, or they can simply use iPaaS to integrate the payment feature of another software with its software. The late solution helps the company to save time and cost, while also enabling it to vastly improve its service offering to attract more clients to their software solution.
How does iPaaS work?
A software provider will use iPaaS to create the infrastructure required to develop and deploy software applications within the cloud.
For this, the software provider will define the parameters for the type of connections allowed on the platform. The parameters can be defined as pre-built connectors, APIs, or other predefined conditions.
Once the rules are defined, a central ecosystem is created by the iPaaS that allows easy monitoring, management, and modification of data, infrastructure, and operations. This subsequently enables businesses to effortlessly manage, modify, share information, as well as, offer better solutions to their clients.
Types of iPaaS
Generally, there are 4 broad categories of iPaaS including;
Simple Automation iPaaS
Integromat and Zapier are some popular categories of simple automation iPaaS. The defining characteristics of simple automation iPaaS are their easy, intuitive, and user-friendly approach to connect applications and create seamless workflows between them.
Characteristics of simple iPaaS:
- Little to no tech knowledge required to operate
- Large number of prebuilt connectors are available to choose from
- Easy integration between web-based, and cloud-based applications using prebuilt connectors
- Intuitive interface to create point-and-click workflows
- Connect more apps to existing platforms by creating independent connectors
Limitations of simple iPaaS:
- The workflows and integrations can at times experience bugs when scaling
- There is a limitation of using mostly official supported apps
Jitterbit, Dell Boomi, and Dream factory are some examples of True iPaaS solutions. From the perspective of developers, True iPaaS offer them an easy and user-friendly approach to develop APIs, IoT infrastructure, and app integration using intuitive, no-code, and low-code interface.
Characteristics of True iPaaS:
- Easy and user-friendly approach for rapid development of APIs, and app integration
- No-code, low-code interface
- Availability of prebuilt connectors for faster and easy integration of IoT endpoint integrations, web app, cloud-based apps, and on-premise apps
- Advance compliance features to meet standards like GDPR and HIPAA
- Option to define accessibility with Role-based Access Control (RBAC)
- Support the development of complex logic workflows
Limitations of True iPaaS:
- More technical experience required to build solutions using True iPaaS, as compared to Simple Automation iPaaS
- Careful management of data security, and access control features is required to avoid inadvertent breach of sensitive data
- Fewer native connectors as compared to Simple Automation iPaaS
Hybrid ESB/ iPaaS
IBM App Connect and Mulesoft are examples of Hybrid/ESB iPaaS. The Hybrid/ESB iPaaS can achieve all tasks of the first two categories, while also serving the ESB use cases.
Characteristics of Hybrid ESB:
- Is capable to serve all ESB use-cases
- Have the capacity to comply with standards for medical and insurance industries
- Can be used for complex IT infrastructures
- Have the tools to connect cloud-based apps
- Easy developers features to create, manage, and publish APIs
Limitations of Hybrid ESB:
- Higher cost as compared to the previous two iPaaS solutions
- Required more training for developers as compared to Simple Automation, and True iPaaS
- Slow process of connecting cloud-based apps with Hybrid ESB/ iPaaS, which translates into less agility
Industry Specific iPaaS
SPS Commerce and Modulus Data are some examples of industry-specific iPaaS. As can be taken by name, the industry-specific iPaaS is geared to offer app integration solutions towards a target industry like financial services, insurance, medical industry, or others.
Characteristics of Industry-Specific iPaaS:
- Support the unique requirements, and compliance protocols of specific industries
Limitations of industry-specific iPaaS:
- Is specifically geared towards one industry, which means has no use-cases for other industries
Benefits of iPaaS
iPaaS has come up as an effective integration solution for companies looking for seamless workflow processes, and operations. iPaaS enables companies to create, and deploy rapid, cloud-based solutions they need to keep up with the business requirements while ensuring consistent data flow between various business functions. Some specific internal and external benefits of iPaaS for businesses are listed below;
Elimination of silos
iPaaS eliminate data silos by effectively creating a seamless connection between different systems and software. This is especially necessary for businesses undergoing rapid expansion and growth, as they need robust integration of systems to avoid creating puddles.
Processing in real-time
iPaaS enables businesses to access and share data and processing in real-time, thereby eliminating unnecessary delays in business decisions.
iPaaS enables companies to improve their productivity and develop efficient workflow processes by eliminating ambiguities, data loss, and inconsistencies through a unified central system.
iPaaS enables the creation of a centralized system for effective management of all connections across the platform.
Increased security and compliance
While the cybersecurity threat and data breaches will remain inevitable in the cloud-computing, iPaaS solutions do offer better security and alert features for fraud detection, and system breaches. As a centralized system, iPaaS makes it easier for businesses to pick up on threats and take necessary measures for mitigation.
Better data quality
iPaaS solutions are effective in determining the consistency, usefulness, and validation of data. This results in higher data accuracy, subsequently leading to better decision-making for businesses.
A unified solution
With the iPaaS solution, companies don’t need to manage different software required to conduct business operations. iPaaS offers a centralized and unified system to connect all existing software in one place, thereby making it easier to manage and access data.
With centralized access to all different software and data, it becomes easier for businesses to develop efficient workflows.
Disadvantages of iPaaS
With all the benefits, iPaaS does have some disadvantages as well, which may not necessarily be related to iPaaS as a solution, but due to their scope. Some of the disadvantages of iPaaS includes;
Less Flexibility for Custom Requirements
While the modern iPaaS solutions may offer solutions to various integration scenarios, still there remain various custom use-cases for which iPaaS doesn’t offer any solution. This is primarily because either the use-case is too custom, or it isn’t economically feasible from the perspective of iPaaS providers.
Require Technically Competent Personnel
While there are certain cases where little to no technical knowledge is required to create an iPaaS solution, in most cases higher IT knowledge is required to deal with the complex integration requirement.
Confusingly Wide Range Of Providers
Choosing between a large range of iPaaS solution providers is yet another limitation, which often requires companies to consider various aspects of the solution provider before finalizing one. The process of choosing the right iPaaS solution provider may be too confusing for newcomers and thereby, needs to act extra-cautiously to not fall for the inexperienced provider.
Difference between ipaas vs ESB
iPaaS and ESB both act as integration solutions for multiple applications. However, both of the processes offer completely different solutions. For starters, ESB works with on-premises applications, whereas, iPaaS offer integration solutions for cloud-based applications. While ESB may also integrate cloud applications, however, it will result in a less viable connection.
Also, scalability is a key difference between the two systems. While iPaaS offers better and easier scalability options, it is a much more time, and resource-consuming process when working with ESB. Lastly, iPaaS also offers an easy multitenancy option, whereas it’s very hard to achieve with ESB.
Difference between iPaaS Vs. PaaS
While the difference between iPaaS and PaaS only seems to be one letter, in reality, the difference between the two is large.
The fundamental difference between the two is that PaaS is a toolbox that includes tools, and features required by developers to build their own applications.
On the contrary, iPaaS also has tools and features that are exclusively focused to create better integration solutions between software.
Also, PaaS generally required a team of developers to create software solutions, whereas, iPaaS include tools that can be used by anyone member of the team to create an integration solution with little to no coding required.
Difference Between iPaaS, aPaaS, and SaaS
aPaaS enables software development companies to improve efficiency for their development and delivery process by offering developers better controls. In a nutshell, aPaaS enables faster software/application development.
SaaS differs from iPaaS by the way it is hosted. SaaS solutions are hosted by vendors, whereas, iPaaS is cloud-based. SaaS applications are made available to clients through a network or over the internet.
iPaaS is a cloud-based integration solution, which allows consistent data flow between applications that reside on-premise or on the cloud. The iPaaS doesn’t require downloading and offers easy deployment.
iPaaS vs ISaaS
IaaS offer companies the infrastructure like hardware, storage, and other computing resources, on which iPaaS will be deployed. In general, IaaS acts as the foundation for most platforms.
10 Best iPaaS Software
Boomi offer businesses easy cloud-based integration, and API management solution. The company was acquired by Dell in 2010 and offers all the features and functionalities required by businesses to develop efficient API design, application deployment, and much more. The Dell Boomi enables companies to design end-to-end workflows, as well as, effectively process data across multiple applications. The Dell Boomi is considered the absolute leader in the iPaaS space for small businesses, as well as, enterprises.
Oracle Integration Cloud
Oracle integration cloud is one of the most powerful iPaaS solutions that pack the best features, and functionalities of the industry into one single product. The software solution also allows easier, and rapid set-up for SaaS and on-premises applications.
The Workato was developed to enable businesses to build better connections between users, and IT. The software solution allows for easy planning and maintenance of integration between various systems. It offers various pre-built integration flows for 300+ SaaS products, as well as, enables custom integration with its simple drag-and-drop interface.
TIBCO is highly regarded for its easy-to-use iPaaS solution that essentially streamlines the development and management of integration flow for businesses. The company pride itself as the “application neutral” technology partner, which essentially means that they don’t push around businesses to use specific applications or ecosystems, rather their solution works seamlessly to connect any on-premises or cloud-based applications used by the business.
Elastic.io brings in its advanced features to eliminate the time and resource-intensive product management component of designing custom integrations. The solution essentially saves as much as 80% of the time spent on designing custom integration. The company is also highly regarded for its after sales support, by offering clients robust support features, connector updates, bug fixes, and other essential updates.
The Flexspring is a specialized iPaaS solution geared towards the Human Resource Industry. The solution brings in a vast library of pre-built connectors aimed to seamlessly integrate various HR-related applications and tools.
Informatica is a legacy company that has been operating since 1993. The company is still regarded as an absolute leader in helping businesses effectively manage data. Informatica specializes in offering enterprise-level iPaaS solutions and has some of the big shot enterprises as their clients including Unilever, L’Oreal, GE, and others.
IBM AppConnect is another hugely popular iPaaS solution that enables companies to integrate applications, data, as well as, build APIs. The solution comes with various integration templates that can be used to set up integration flows for businesses instantly. The IBM AppConnect is highly recommended for small and medium businesses getting started with the iPaaS.
SnapLogic is a powerful iPaaS solution that is ideal for large enterprises looking for easy handling of a large volume of data. The software brings in powerful features to automate integrations for various on-premises and cloud-based applications on the enterprise level. The best part about SnapLogic is that despite offering solutions for large and complex applications, it comes with an interactive, and intuitive interface that is designed to offer ease of use for people with little tech knowledge.
Zapier is an affordable iPaaS solution that enables businesses of all sizes to easily design, and manage custom integration requirements. The software comes with “Zaps” which are new integrations, offering businesses easy integration solutions for their needs.