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This content is part of the Essential Guide: What developers need to know about cloud app integration
Definition

Integration as a Service (IaaS)

Integration as a Service (IaaS) is a cloud-based delivery model that strives to connect on-premise data with data located in cloud-based applications. This paradigm facilitates real-time exchange of data and programs among enterprise-wide systems and trading partners.

In business-to-business (B2B) integration, IaaS allows partners to develop, maintain and manage custom integrations for diverse systems and applications in the cloud. In this way, the enterprise can more effectively pursue process innovations without the need to constantly modify and maintain diverse and often incompatible application programs.

IaaS vendors will typically provide infrastructure, such as servers, along with middleware. Vendors will also commonly supply tools for customers to build, test, deploy and manage cloud applications. Payment is typically available in the form of a ‘pay as you go’ model, so users can readily scale their environments up or down. Most IaaS vendors will also share a multi-tenant setup.

Customers of an IaaS service will typically interact with their data via a web-based interface, which interconnects backend data, systems and files with other data, applications and systems in other locations. IaaS also removes system and data interdependencies through this process.

Uses of IaaS

IaaS is commonly used in small and medium-sized businesses since it facilitates low-cost, efficient and reliable B2B integration. IaaS allows enterprises of modest size to spend more of their valuable resources on the products and services that directly benefit customers. In addition, IaaS can streamline infrastructure management (IM) by minimizing the amount of unnecessary or redundant time and energy spent on it.

Organizations can utilize IaaS to:

  • Storing data, setting up backups and performing recovery.
  • Running and hosting websites and web applications.
  • Developing and testing applications through the tools some providers may offer.
  • Facilitating data analytics, which aids organizations in managing large datasets.

As an example of IaaS in use, the New York Times archived much of their historical data in less than two days using an IaaS system developed by Amazon called Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). Without the assistance of EC2 or a similar IaaS platform, the same process would probably have taken weeks.

Benefits of IaaS

An organization that hosts an IaaS platform can benefit through:

  • A consistent architecture that is created through connecting applications and resources, both in cloud and on-premise, in one interface.
  • Reduced cost by allowing an organization to avoid management of an on-premise data center.
  • The data center infrastructure is handled by the service provider for the organization.
  • The organization does not have to worry about software or hardware upgrades since the service provider handles both.
  • Startups do not have to pay the initial cost of buying, building and managing an extensive infrastructure.
  • Users pay for what they use.
  • Services are scalable.
  • Some IaaS providers will support 24/7/365 monitoring.

Integration as a Service providers

IaaS service providers include platforms such as Dell Boomi AtomSphere, MuleSoft and Amazon EC2.

Dell Boomi AtomSphere is a multi-tenant cloud integration platform that can integrate cloud, on-premises and SaaS applications. AtomSphere allows users to create Atoms, which are cloud-based integration processes that can transfer data between cloud and on-premise applications.  

MuleSoft is another cloud integration platform for B2B applications. MuleSoft provides toolset which includes an API that enables organizations to model, build and deploy applications, APIs and services.

Amazon EC2 is a web-based service that allows organizations to run applications in the AWS public cloud. EC2 provides users with tools such as VMs and compute capacities for IT workloads. This is the service used in the earlier example from the New York Times.

This was last updated in June 2019

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