An increasing number of enterprises are looking to the cloud for their business software and application needs. Technology Business Research predicts that global public cloud revenue will double to $167 billion in 2020 from $80 billion in 2015. The cost benefits of moving software expenses from capital expenditure (CAPEX) to operating expenses (OPEX), the scalability and mobility that cloud services offer, and enhanced security features are driving this massive shift toward cloud services.
However, as enterprises adopt multiple Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud services, many are finding out how difficult it is to integrate these services with each other and with their legacy systems. Oftentimes, this integration problem poses a challenge for IT and business alignment. IT has to deal with the complexity of building and developing the interface to integrate different cloud-based solutions and legacy systems. Without the necessary interface, end users of the various systems cannot effectively share information across the enterprise and collaborate. Furthermore, integration is not only a problem for enterprises, but also for developers, solutions vendors, cloud service providers, and SaaS administrators.
This is where integration platform as a service (IPaaS) comes in. IPaaS connects and integrates on-premise and cloud-based services, applications, and processes across enterprises, groups, and individuals. IPaaS solutions typically include connectors, maps, business rules, and transformation that allow the development of integration flows across different applications and environments enabling business and IT alignment for enterprises and developers alike.
At its core, IPaaS includes several tools for managing integrations between systems, applications, software, and environments and even maintain compliance:
Development tools: The main advantage of using IPaaS solutions is access to software development tools that utilize commonly-used data formats such as JSON, XML, B2B, SOAP, and other web service protocols. These tools allow developers to focus on delivering software that can be easily integrated with and connected to legacy systems and other cloud services. They also enable developers to deliver software and applications faster by simply configuring their development processes and environment without the need for additional coding. But the improvements in developer productivity are offset by the rising costs of iPaaS developers which are in high demand.
Platform tools: IPaaS provides a cloud-based interface that integrates key objects from on-premise applications and systems and other cloud services. This allows enterprises to unify their data and applications into a single platform, making it easier to synchronize critical information across systems and software. Platform tools also enable enterprises to automate their complex integration and business processes making it easier to align IT and business systems and process information regardless of volume or frequency of data modification. But it only solves part of the problem – integration. Once you have access to the data it still needs to be managed and data governance applied. It’s an incomplete solution without comprehensive data management capabilities.
Administrative tools: IPaaS solutions and platforms allow users to easily monitor, manage, and modify integration processes through various administrative tools. These tools empower them to gain insights and visibility into their applications’ performance, usage, and logs. Furthermore, by monitoring usage and performance data and providing predictive recommendations, these tools enable enterprises to achieve faster application development and time-to-implementation and maximize their return on investment. Is this where you want your valuable resources to spend their time? Access at the data and visibility layers are what is needed.
Security and compliance tools: IPaaS solutions enable enterprises to protect and maintain the integrity of their data by ensuring compliance with security standards throughout the entire integration process. These tools often include compliance and certifications with PCI and ISO standards. These tools are particularly critical to Chief Information Security Officers (CISO), whose responsibilities include protecting information systems, assets, and enterprise data. IPaaS security tools also ensure that data transfer channels are secure and that the most stringent regulatory requirements for clients’ personally identifiable information (PII), business practices, and service security are met. But the problem is, how do you ensure that what gets developed is compliant and meets the regulatory requirements of your organization? Having developers leveraging these iPaaS tools creates vulnerabilities for your organization.
Despite the features and groundbreaking benefits especially in application development, enterprises are still slow at adopting IPaaS solutions. This is mainly due to confusion between IPaaS and SaaS and a lack of understanding of its true value. Aside from its integration benefits, the true value of IPaaS lies in driving collaboration between customers, third-party vendors, and suppliers. IPaaS drives additional workflows such as network control, network visualization, and other business functions that can be customized to create syndicated applications with partners and set up collaborative platforms that support B2B, B2C, and enterprise-to-partner integrations. Deployed properly, IPaaS will enhance an enterprise’s application environment, improve the functionality of its applications, and enable it to get the most value out of its applications.
Still, before an enterprise decides whether to utilize IPaaS for its systems and applications, it has to determine if it will solve its needs. IPaaS is best suited for cloud services such as SaaS integrated with legacy systems with up to moderate complexity. It also works best for enterprises looking to integrate mobile and social applications into their systems. However, for more complex integration needs, IPaaS alone may not be a suitable solution for enterprises. IPaaS can be used together with other approaches such as service-oriented architecture (SOA) to manage larger integration projects such as on-premise to on-premise integrations.
A More Powerful Solution for Cloud Integration
Liaison’s ALLOY™ Platform is in a category all its own when it comes to cloud integration. It is called dPaaS (Data Platform as a Service). Like IPaaS, dPaaS helps enterprises integrate ever-growing numbers of cloud applications and data sources. But dPaaS, through its managed services approach, focuses on compliance and unification of integration and data management capabilities, and is much better suited to solving today’s (and tomorrow’s) true integration challenges.
Don’t settle for iPaaS when you can do so much more with Liaison’s value-added approach to cloud integration. Want to learn more? Contact our data experts to inquire about Liaison’s ALLOY™ Platform.