Louis-Victor Jadavji (or "LV") is a recognized leader in the cloud services industry. He's helped 50+ digital native companies like ModusBox, Later, and NS1 choose the right cloud stack for their applications. His work has been featured in Forbes (30 Under 30 All-Star), HuffPost, The New York Times, The Globe and Mail, and Inc. Magazine.
As technology accelerates exponentially, developers need the right combination of skills and tools.
An incredibly powerful innovation developers should be taking advantage of is iPaaS, or Integration Platform as a Service. iPaaS is designed to combine the strengths of several existing platforms and systems, housing them under one roof with the promise of improvements in performance. iPaaS integrates software and applications from several (or in certain cases, from a single) vendor into a single platform, bringing the advantages and capabilities of typically disparate tools together in one mighty, handy interface.
Might the use of iPaaS be right for you? In this article, explore the advantages, known challenges, and overall potential that adding iPaaS to your arsenal might bring.
Every developer wants a smoother workflow – without sacrificing clarity in data and the capabilities unlocked by their go-to tools.
Based in the cloud, an iPaaS is a vendor managed integration solution. It’s designed so you can connect your databases, systems and applications easily, all while helping you monitor ongoing data feeds, metrics and overarching business processes.
In a sense, an iPaaS allows separate components within a broader development ecosystem to interact, but without the user needing to direct them to do so.
For the most part, the best iPaaS tools for developers are very versatile too. Alongside straightforward cloud integration, they often allow on-premises to cloud integration, as well as connectivity between on-premesis integrated devices.
These tools can be a dream for developers that love to tinker or improve workflow. When you’re able to dive deep into the API level of a given iPaaS, you can connect several separate systems, processes and applications into a cohesive and interactive whole – even if their underlying technologies are different.
That unlocks the potential for automation, multi-system workflows, and plenty of hands-off productivity – without a single line of custom code.
In the right hands, an iPaaS can become an indispensable part of any developer’s daily productivity cycle. Truly complex and meticulous data exchanges are possible, all designed to sustain accuracy and efficiency throughout.
Without the need for coding an iPaaS can queue messages, process events, integrate B2B functionality, maintain high data quality, transform data between formats or systems, among other capabilities.
Business and its core technologies are growing ever more complicated, and the end result is that even the most agile organizations in the world are at risk of getting bogged down in busywork and minutiae.
It’s therefore no surprise that iPaaS solutions are growing in popularity in all kinds of business – and have been for years. Companies and startups are keen to stay streamlined, and that means a resource like an iPaaS, designed to reduce costs and simplify the day-to-day workflow, are appealing.
iPaas is designed with business growth in mind. iPaaS technology is typically easy to scale to the needs of a given business – and it often boasts a greater degree of flexibility than operating without iPaaS. Businesses can sidestep the need for costly on-site hardware and integration software, and simply leave iPaaS fine-tuning in developers’ capable hands.
The advantages of the cloud are a tremendous benefit of iPaaS solutions. With enterprise level IT infrastructure accessible via these platforms, it’s far easier to react to problems and preempt technical challenges before they have the chance to turn into expensive downtime or catastrophic data disasters.
No business rushes into new investments and solutions without first having a grasp of the basics. Luckily, the benefits of putting iPaaS technologies to work in almost any business model are easy to understand.
While almost every business recognizes how vital the cloud has become to how things run nowadays, that doesn’t mean every organization fully understands it – or is ready to migrate to a fully cloud based solution.
An iPaaS reduces the confusion of juggling multiple software tools and other data assets. Instead, a single and highly customizable platform is put into action – all while highlighting transparency in workflows and clearly showing which systems are connected to which, and how.
Perhaps the best part of all this is how cost effective using an iPaaS makes it. In this way, businesses aren’t only streamlining their profitability – but also their balance sheets.
At the more technical level, an iPaaS works by creating a virtual platform through which programs and applications combine and share resources – all within a GUI and ecosystem that’s consistent and intuitive.
Behind the scenes, your iPaaS is doing a lot of work seamlessly connecting cloud and legacy applications, all while ensuring they are able to communicate and efficiently divide your network’s resources.
Futureproofing is a major factor in iPaaS design. That means not only do they withstand large volumes of data at any given time, but also that they can undertake more complex B2B transactions, streamline development cycles to better reach your KPIs per sprint, and also ease the transition between viewing data on a computer screen versus a mobile device, and vice-versa.
Below are some of the most important features of iPaaS systems – consider how they relate to your business needs today, as well as the requirements it may in the future.
That should help you make an informed decision on which iPaaS is best for your needs.
In addition, many iPaaS providers offer additional benefits to be privy to, including:
While much has been said about how cost-effective a good iPaaS platform can be, developers will be pleased to know there are a number of open-source projects available online too.
Here are a few recommendations:
Mulesoft's Anypoint Exchange presents a holistic integration solution, combining iPaaS software, API Management, and classic Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) tools. Its three-layered API architecture is highly regarded among enterprises for its structured approach to API development and management. Mulesoft further enhances its offering with Mulesoft Compose, a low-code solution facilitating deep integrations with Salesforce. This blend of solutions provides businesses with a unified, comprehensive platform to manage their integrations and APIs, enabling seamless data flow and operational efficiency.
Workato offers the Workato Enterprise Suite, Workato OEM, and Workbot for iPaaS. It provides a range of low-code integration tools aimed at the smaller enterprise segment, while the Workato Enterprise Suite caters to the needs of larger enterprises. This range of solutions allows businesses of all sizes to benefit from simplified, efficient integration processes, enabling better data flow, improved collaboration, and operational efficiency.
SnapLogic's Intelligent Integration Platform (IIP) focuses on enterprise application, data, and API integration scenarios. With IIP connectors, developers can maintain reusable templates, or they can utilize an extensive library of pre-built templates known as Snaps. This capability enables businesses to quickly set up and manage integrations, improving efficiency, reducing time-to-market, and encouraging the reuse of integration components.
Boomi Atmosphere platform offers application, data, and B2B/EDI integrations, along with API management, a low-code application development environment, and MDM capabilities. It is particularly effective for EDI-based integrations, providing a streamlined, comprehensive platform for businesses to manage their data, APIs, and integrations. The inclusion of a low-code application development environment further encourages business agility and innovation.
Jitterbit's Harmony Platform provides user-friendly tools for developing integrations and APIs, catering mainly to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Its intuitive tooling approach simplifies the integration and API development process, making it accessible to users without extensive technical skills. By eliminating complexities in creating and managing integrations and APIs, the Harmony Platform empowers SMBs to streamline their operations, improve data flow, and enhance the interoperability of their business systems.
Tray.io comes with two key offerings: Tray Platform and Tray Embedded. A significant feature of Tray.io is its collaborative, low-code user interface, which appeals to "citizen developers" or line of business users. This platform finds its primary adopters among business users who appreciate an easy-to-use tool equipped with a broad set of pre-built solutions. This user-friendly, low-code approach empowers business users to create, manage, and integrate their own applications and workflows without needing extensive coding knowledge.
As interest surrounding iPaaS software continues to grow all over the world, it stands to reason that the market is in a similarly expansive position. In fact, around 200 vendors and rising are offering businesses iPaaS solutions today.
One reason for this growth is the fact that iPaaS technologies are suitable for an extremely wide range of business applications. Likewise, they can welcome users of all levels of technical proficiency – from full API developers to marketers seeking B2B integrations or project managers seeking more efficient workflows.
The iPaaS ecosystem as a whole is actively pursuing the ideal goal of making their solution the one-stop-shop for every application, task, dataset and business function. It’s no small feat, but it keeps the market competitive– and that means it’s in an organization’s best interests to shop around.
It would be unrealistic to suggest that every iPaaS solution out there is completely flawless. As with any emerging new technology, there are challenges to overcome, and limitations that are best kept in mind.
For example, iPaaS systems can sometimes struggle when asked to connect with custom-built or bespoke integrations. For developers with advanced coding capabilities and some patience, this is not a big problem – but a challenge worth remembering.
On the subject of technical knowledge, keep in mind also that iPaaS systems are largely marketed to developers, programmers, and IT consultants. They demand a level of integration domain knowledge that’s still quite niche in the working world today.
At the broader level, because this is such an active market, iPaaS vendors can become confusing to compare, with feature sets and pricing plans that seem occasionally erratic.
Keep a level head and do your research well, however, and a revolutionary tool for development and business growth is within your reach.
Editor's Note: This post was originally posted on November 29, 2022 and updated on July 9, 2023.