There seems to be a de facto consensus that iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) is the next big thing. So much so that the MuleSoft, one of the leading iPaaS vendors, achieved unicorn status last year after a successful round of venture capital financing and, then, this past March, went on to have a very successful IPO.
And while there’s little doubt for CIOs that legacy middleware integration technologies such as ESB are on the verge of obsolescence, there should be plenty of doubt as to whether iPaaS (and the vendors such as MuleSoft, Jitterbit, SnapLogic, etc. that offer iPaaS) is the logical successor to fill the white space being left behind. Why? Because iPaaS is stubbornly more of the same. It’s a modernization, but not the much-needed re-imagination, of the ESB model that is currently on life support at organizations around the world.
iPaaS’ ability to extend an enterprise’s on-premises integration operations into the cloud has given it temporary legs, but those legs aren’t long enough to climb over the true hurdles facing CIOs today, which include scarce and expensive developer resources; stringent data security and compliance requirements; and the inability to efficiently turn data into insight. Quite the opposite—iPaaS aggravates these problems. Here’s how:
- iPaaS requires significant developer resources with “hot skills.” Its promise of pre-built adaptors (just as ESB providers promised pre-built adapters in the mid-2000s) may enhance productivity for simple integrations, but the reality is that never-ceasing change always finds a way to outstrip pre-built and out-of-the-box solutions. With data sources, formats, and volumes growing unchecked, iPaaS amounts to a costly ‘full employment act’ for developers. And with rising developer costs, the benefits of iPaaS developer productivity tools is quickly marginalized.
- iPaaS runs afoul of data compliance. iPaaS, like most software, is only compliant until it’s taken out of the box. The moment a developer puts an integration into motion, vulnerabilities are exposed and the burden to demonstrate a compliant process falls squarely upon the organization. Multiply this by the effect of many discordant developers—and citizen integrators—and an organization’s attempts at maintaining enterprise-wide compliance for stringent frameworks such as PCI DSS or HIPAA can be quickly overrun.
- iPaaS focuses on applications, not data. As with the ESB architecture it is based upon, iPaaS’ primary goal is to move data from one application to another (in fact, the MuleSoft platform is based on 10-year-old Open Source ESB technology, ported to the cloud.). This focus on applications is shortsighted at a time when it is no longer adequate to merely transport and transform data between two end points. Data has become a critical asset in its own right, and the end product of integration needs to go a step further, producing application-agnostic data sets that advance big data and other critical digital transformation objectives. This is exceedingly difficult to accomplish in the fragmented, do-it-yourself, point-to-point iPaaS integration environment.
As someone who has been in the integration industry long enough to have witnessed both the rise and (now) fall of the ESB integration model, I see no reason for our industry to continue propagating its shortcomings. And neither does Liaison Technologies.
That’s why the Liaison ALLOY™ Platform is a complete reinvention of integration. ALLOY was built from the ground up to not only vigorously support cloud integration, but also fundamentally change the way in which organizations integrate, manage, and secure data. These fundamental changes are critical to solving the problems plaguing enterprises today, and include:
- Providing the underlying mechanics of integration as turnkey, managed services to truly free IT from the burden of integration, which has a high learning curve but offers no competitive advantage in and of itself.
- Unifying integration and data management so that disparate data is additionally cleansed, harmonized, and consolidated as part of a coordinated set of workflows.
- Giving users broad, self-service access to API’s, where it matters most, at the data layer so that those with the expertise needed to innovate within the business can inspect, manipulate, and analyze their data on an ad-hoc basis.
- Providing stringent cross-industry data compliance that dynamically expands as platform use expands.
ALLOY’s one-of-a-kind approach to integration and data management—which extends far beyond the capabilities of iPaaS—is the true unicorn here. It’s that rare and mythical breed of product that not only tackles the problem at hand (i.e. integration), but does so in such an elegant manner that other problems get solved along the way.