iPaaS – perfect-fitted solution for large enterprise systems?
As a software development company, we observe that more and more customers are starting to use cloud computing. This is no longer a forbidden fruit, but it is becoming one of the key elements of modern IT infrastructure. Most companies have some combination of cloud and on-premise solutions. The number of applications from different vendors used in large corporations as well as smaller startups are growing rapidly. The second notable trend is the willingness to react quickly, change strategies and generate innovative ideas based on as much data as possible. The need to integrate so many data sources has never been so strong. This situation caused a sharp increase in interest in iPaaS platform.
IaaS, PaaS, SaaS
At the beginning, I would like to briefly present three models of service provision, which are currently the most popular in the cloud.
IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) is one of the cloud services, the nearest to “bare metal”. This service provides full IT infrastructure most often in the form of virtualized machines (VMs) which can scale depending on the current needs of the user. The client bought, for example, the specific number of servers, disks, memory or computing power. We do not have these resources physically in the company. We also do not need to hire people who are responsible for maintaining physical devices. We must install all of the necessary software independently.
Examples: Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Virtual Machines on Microsoft Azure.
PaaS (Platform as a Service) provides platform which typically includes an operating system, programming language execution environment, database, web server. Technically it is a layer on top of IaaS as the second thing you demand after IaaS. Thanks to PaaS developers can focus on developing their applications and meeting the business requirements instead of setting up configurations and managing servers or databases. The proper configuration of servers/databases requires an additional set of skills that the developers must acquire. If they use PaaS, they do not have to do it. Examples: AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Google Cloud App Engine, Heroku.
SaaS (Software as a Service) is to provide the user with a ready-to-use application. The SaaS model transfers the responsibilities of installing, managing, updating, and technical support from the client to the service provider. The user can not make changes to the application – he uses a ready-made product, which he can at best adapt to himself using the possibilities offered by the creator. The provider is responsible for ensuring that everything works and that the user simply uses the program.
Examples: Google Apps, Office 365, Salesforce, Dropbox, Slack.
Below diagram shows the differences – what is managed by us and what is provided by providers.
Created based on: hostingadvice.com
What is iPaaS (integration platform as a service)?
iPaaS, as you can easily guess by looking at the name, is a special type of PaaS – for application and data integration. In essence, iPaaS lets you connect anything to anything, in any way, and anywhere. iPaaS works very well in huge enterprise environment that need to integrate a lot of on-premises applications and cloud-based applications or data providers.
The market for all types of tools that facilitate everyday work is really huge. One of the great examples is “Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic“, which is growing at a spectacular pace. From ~150 in 2011 to ~7000 in 2019.
The right iPaaS platform is characterized by the fact that it has a lot of pre-built connectors, business rules, maps, transformations and custom development tools for legacy/mobile application integration. It also should be built to connect the 3 A’s of enterprise integration: Anything (data, apps, APIs, things), Anytime (real-time, batch, streaming) and Anywhere (cloud, on prem, hybrid).
Companies can purchase the iPaaS directly, and other SaaS companies can embed the iPaaS in their products instead of building their own point-to-point integration. This solution can reduce the “death star” matrix of point-to-point integrations. We want to achieve a transparent architecture that allows you to easily use new components.
The key functionalities of iPaaS include:
- support for various communication protocol connections ((s)FTP, HTTP(s), AMQP, MQTT etc),
- application connectors/adapters for SaaS and on-premise apps,
- support for various data formats (XML, JSON),
- data mapping and transformation,
- data quality,
- routing and orchestration,
- integration flow development and life cycle management tools,
- integration flow operational monitoring and management,
- API management,
- support for various integration scenarios.
Trends & forecasts
Many reports about iPaaS have appeared recently. As a software engineer, I treat such reports with a pinch of salt, but I think it is worth presenting them and showing some trends.
On MarketWatch we can read: The integration platform as a service market is not just growing, it is accelerating. According to Market Research Future Analysis, iPaaS worldwide market is estimated to generate revenue of approximately $2 billion by 2023 growing at a CAGR of 22% during the forecast period 2017-2023.
Second report said that Worldwide iPaaS Market set to reach $2.15 billion in 2021.
Third report created by VynZ Research are even more promising. The global (iPaaS) market is predicted to grow at 42.1% CAGR during the forecast period with the market size reaching $8.6 billion by 2024.
In summary, reports show that the market is interested in iPaaS solutions. Market share is dynamically growing. Companies that create iPaaS products have reported growth rate of over 50%. We also noticed a growing interest in this type of tools among our business partners.
iPaaS providers – market overview
Today there are a lot of companies who offer iPaaS platform. We focus only on the most popular companies which were previously noticed by Gartner or G2 Crowd.
There are two basic types of vendors for iPaaS. First, there are the older companies which had earlier enterprise-ready integration platform and modified their tools to work in cloud, for example TIBCO, Informatica, IBM.
The second group are companies that were born in the cloud age, for example Jitterbit, Dell Boomi, SnapLogic.
On the Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Integration Platform as a Service 17 companies were presented.
Informatica, Dell Boomi, Jitterbit, SnapLogic, Workato, MuleSoft, Oracle and Microsoft were presented as the leaders. There are many leaders, and this suggests that there is a lot to choose from.
G2 Grid for iPaaS is also worth mentioning. G2 Crowd is a portal, where users find unbiased reviews that help objectively assess what is best for their business. It is worth getting acquainted with the opinions on this site before choosing the final solution. Thanks to them, even before starting the project, we can learn about the pros and cons of the product presented by its real users, not the creators or marketing team.
On both squares, in the leaderboard were: MuleSoft, Dell Boomi, Jitterbit, Workato, SnapLogic. Unfortunately, at this moment I can not indicate which platform is the best and we should always choose it. At Altkom Software & Consulting we choose a solution to the problem. You should never choose a solution without knowing the requirements and architectural drivers. We see the software development process as a journey we embark on together with our customers. Clear separation between the problem space and the solution space allows us to build the right system for the right problem and is the key to success. More about our approach you can read in this ebook.
- Built-in connectors for multiple applications (marketing platforms, SaaS, e-commerce, CRM and much more) across various clouds and legacy platforms allow you to shorten development time and save money.
- Integration flows can be deployed in the absence of additional hardware or middleware.
- iPaaS represents a cost-effective alternative to building custom integrations.
- A lot of iPaaS platforms offer flexible deployment service: in the cloud, on-premises or hybrid.
- Business can expand without having to worry about setting up yet another custom in-house integration.
- Practically all the most popular solutions have UI and something like “low code platform”. In my opinion, this is also an advantage (for example for business analysts), but also a disadvantage (because these platforms do not work as they should).
- iPaaS can reduce the gap between data entry and business intelligence, which means organizations have the opportunity to track real-time data.
More and more companies understand that cloud is a really good solution. But in current IT infrastructure there are many legacy systems that works very well and do not need any changes or their migration is very expensive and time-consuming. Hybrid deployments and solutions are the preferred approach for integrations.
The technological advancements and increasing adoption of cloud solutions by a lot of industries and increased interest of the banking sector in cloud solutions are the key factors leading to the growth in the iPaaS market.
In the next article, I will present an example integration scenario and implement it using two selected iPaaS platforms. Stay tuned!
Lead Software Engineer