iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service)

What it is, why it matters, and best practices. This guide provides definitions, examples and practical advice to help you understand the topic of iPaaS.

Diagram showing iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) connectivity.

What is iPaaS?

Integration platform as a service (iPaaS) refers to a cloud-based platform that enables the integration of various applications and data sources across different cloud and on-premise environments. iPaaS provides a unified platform for developing, deploying, managing, and integrating applications and services in a secure and scalable manner. It typically offers pre-built connectors, APIs, and data mapping tools to simplify the integration process and reduce development time and costs.

How It Works

An iPaaS platform provides a single solution and process for integrating all of the systems in your organization such as SaaS apps, on-premise apps and data, external business partners, devices, and cloud-based apps and data.

Diagram showing iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) connectivity.

SaaS & On-Premise Apps. An integration platform as a service typically provides a range of pre-built connectors and APIs that enable seamless communication between these disparate systems. For example, it may offer connectors to popular SaaS apps like Salesforce, Workday, and HubSpot, as well as to on-premise applications like SAP and Oracle.

In addition, it may offer data mapping and transformation tools that allow users to map data fields between different systems, ensuring that data is properly formatted and can be seamlessly transferred between systems.

B2B Partners. External business partners, such as suppliers or customers, can also be integrated into your cloud data integration ecosystem through secure APIs and data-sharing mechanisms. This allows for smoother collaboration and communication between partners, as well as the ability to share data and resources in real-time.

Devices, such as IoT sensors or smart devices, can also be integrated into your integration ecosystem through APIs that enable them to communicate with other systems and applications. This enables you to leverage data generated by these devices to drive insights and improve operations.

Cloud-based apps and data can be integrated into your cloud integration platform through APIs that enable seamless communication between cloud-based and on-premise systems. This allows for greater flexibility and scalability, as you can easily integrate new cloud-based services into their existing infrastructure.

And beyond integrating these systems, your iPaaS platform also provides for data governance, security, and software updates.

Benefits

Overall, cloud data integration helps you streamline your workflows, improve data visibility and accessibility, and enhance collaboration and productivity. The key benefits of iPaaS solutions include:

Simplified integration: Pre-built connectors and APIs that simplify the integration of various systems, reducing the need for complex custom coding.

Greater agility and scalability: Easily add new applications and services to their infrastructure, making it easier to adapt to changing business needs.

Improved collaboration: By integrating different systems and applications, integration platform as a service enables improved collaboration between teams and partners, leading to greater efficiency and productivity.

Better data management: Centralized data management and integration, making it easier for you to share and analyze data across different systems.

Enhanced security: Advanced security features such as data encryption, access controls, and audit trails, which help protect against data breaches and other security threats.

Lower costs: By providing pre-built connectors and APIs, integration as a service reduces the need for custom development and maintenance, which can lower overall costs.

Faster time-to-market: With simplified integration and pre-built connectors, you can quickly launch new applications and services, reducing time-to-market.

Top 4 Strategies for Automating Your Data Pipeline

Key Use Cases

Here are some of the key use cases of integration platform as a service:

Application Integration: Connect different applications and systems, such as CRMs, ERPs, and marketing automation tools, to create a unified ecosystem. This can help you streamline your operations and improve their overall efficiency.

Data Integration: Integrate data from multiple sources, such as databases, APIs, and file systems, to provide a comprehensive view of their data. This can help you gain valuable insights and make informed decisions.

Cloud-to-Cloud Integration: Integrate cloud-based applications and services, such as Salesforce, Google Drive, and Dropbox, to streamline workflows and improve collaboration.

B2B Integration: Integrate systems between business partners, such as suppliers, customers, and vendors, to enable smooth communication and data exchange.

Event stream/IoT integration: Integrate event streams from various sources and make sense of the data in real-time. For example, you can use iPaaS to integrate event streams from social media platforms to monitor brand mentions and sentiment, or integrate event streams from IoT devices to monitor equipment performance and predict maintenance needs.

Challenges

While iPaaS offers many benefits, here are some of the key challenges you should be aware of.

Integration complexity: Despite its ease of use, integrating different applications and systems can still be complex, especially when dealing with legacy systems or custom APIs. You may need to invest in additional resources or seek professional services to ensure successful integration.

Security and compliance: Integrating different applications and systems can create security risks, especially when sensitive data is involved. You need to ensure that your iPaaS solution is secure and compliant with industry standards and regulations.

Customization limitations: iPaaS solutions often offer pre-built connectors and templates for popular applications, but customization options may be limited. You may need to build your own custom connectors or use third-party solutions to meet your specific integration needs.

Performance and scalability: As your business grows and generates more data, performance and scalability become critical concerns. Your platform needs to be able to handle large volumes of data and maintain high performance levels to ensure smooth operations.

Cost: While integration as a service offers cost savings over traditional integration methods, it can still be expensive, especially if you have complex integration needs. You need to carefully evaluate the costs of solutions and consider factors such as licensing, data volume, and customization needs.

iPaaS vs Other Cloud Services

Cloud Computing Models: iPaaS vs PaaS vs SaaS

iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service): This is a cloud-based platform that facilitates the integration of different software applications and data sources. Providers offer pre-built connectors and templates for popular applications, as well as tools for building custom integrations. Examples include Qlik Data Integration, Workato, Oracle, SAP, Boomi, and MuleSoft.

PaaS (Platform as a Service): PaaS is a cloud computing model that provides a platform for developing, testing, and deploying software applications. PaaS providers offer a complete development environment, including tools, frameworks, and libraries, that developers can use to build and deploy their applications. Examples of PaaS include Heroku, Google App Engine, and Microsoft Azure.

SaaS (Software as a Service): SaaS is a cloud computing model in which software applications are delivered over the internet as a service. The software is hosted and managed by a third-party provider, and users access it through a web browser or mobile app. Examples of SaaS include Salesforce, Office 365, and Dropbox.

Integration Technologies: iPaaS vs ESB vs API management

iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service): As stated above, this is a cloud-based platform that facilitates the integration of different software applications and data sources. Providers offer pre-built connectors and templates for popular applications, as well as tools for building custom integrations. Examples include Qlik Data Integration, Workato, Oracle, SAP, Boomi, and MuleSoft.

ESB (Enterprise Service Bus): ESB is an architecture for building and deploying integration solutions within an enterprise. ESBs provide a centralized platform for integrating different applications and services, with features such as message routing, transformation, and mediation. ESBs are designed to be highly scalable and customizable, but can require significant technical expertise to implement and manage. Examples of ESBs include Apache ServiceMix, Mule ESB, and Oracle Service Bus.

API management: API management is a set of tools and processes for managing the lifecycle of application programming interfaces (APIs). API management platforms provide features such as API design, documentation, testing, security, and analytics. API management is focused on exposing and managing APIs as a product, with features to support self-service access and monetization. Examples of API management platforms include Qlik Data Integration, Apigee, AWS API Gateway, and Kong.

Create and maintain native API integrations efficiently and at scale

Learn how to move your dev team away from time-consuming, one-off development work and maintenance headaches to seamless connectivity and centralized management.

Accelerate analytics-ready data and insights with DataOps

A modern DataOps approach to data integration speeds up the discovery and availability of real-time, analytics-ready data to cloud repositories by automating data streaming (CDC), refinement, cataloging, and publishing. Some platforms also support data warehouse automation and data lake creation.

Learn More About Data Integration With Qlik