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After many years and multiple growing pains, iPaaS integration is moving closer to becoming a true full-service integration platform. Organizations are increasingly turning to iPaaS services for specific business unit cloud services integration, B2B integration, API management and mobile application management. These four dominant use cases for successful iPaaS integration are necessary to consider before an organization decides which iPaaS solution is right for their needs.
IPaaS service offerings are built around an Agile development methodology where time to market speed is crucial. An iPaaS service platform typically provides prebuilt connectors and development and configuration tools that are user-accessible, drag-and-drop type tools. Using the provided tools, organizations can implement integration projects involving SaaS or on-premises endpoints, data sources, applications, services, APIs and processes. Users are able to develop, deploy, execute, manage and monitor integrated interfaces linking multiple endpoints.
In this article, I'll discuss iPaaS use cases for CSI, B2B integration, API management and mobile application integration (MAI) deemed by the Gartner report titled Magic Quadrant for Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) as the currently most effective iPaaS integration use cases.
Cloud services integration (CSI)
CSI is the integration of SaaS to other cloud service systems within an organizations system. In this scenario, CSI is typically used by specific departments that need to integrate departmental systems not supported by a corporate IT group or departments that need a more Agile, lower-cost model than the typical large SOA on-premises integration implementation.
Organizations may choose to test an iPaaS integration provider by selecting one or more departments using CSI first before adopting the service on a larger scale. In this manner, IT and development staff learn the provider's system and how to connect between CSI systems before taking on an organization-wide implementation.
IPaaS CSI integration allows development teams to build cloud streams, integration templates, maps and adapters as reuseable artifacts that can be used later as more parts of the organization are integrated.
Once the organization is comfortable with the CSI integration, a crossover or merge of traditional integration platforms and the iPaaS service system starts to occur. Initially there may be issues until the two types merge into a hybrid integration approach. This hybrid approach combines iPaaS and traditional middleware systems to support a fuller set of integration requirements if needed by the organization.
According to the Gartner report, "iPaaS is most proven to be successful in e-commerce B2B scenarios where at least some of the applications are cloud-based." As mentioned previously, iPaaS service platforms are proven to work well with integration in an Agile approach with shorter deployment windows and smaller, more frequent releases of code.
Keep in mind that B2B integration includes application integration between systems operating in real-time and event based. In other words, according to Hollis Tibbetts' blog entry "Damn the Gartner iPaaS, Full Speed Ahead on SaaS & Cloud Integration" on ebizq.net, "These integrations are typically business process oriented -- that is to say, as soon as 'something happens' in the originating application, for example, when a customer orders a product, it triggers the integration platform to do something -- for example, submit a credit card charge to the payment system. It's the automation of a business process that spans multiple operational systems." iPaaS works well in fast-paced business process systems that trigger additional business process actions.
These types of system integrations typically also include data integration that is generally batch-oriented or performed on a scheduled basis. For example, Amazon may update their inventory database every hour or every ten minutes. iPaaS integration also focuses on the data. This type of data may be integrated to appear in a management dashboard reflecting current sales and inventory holdings, as an example.
API publishing and management
The frequency of API updates and the self-service or on-demand model that customers desire makes traditional integration systems inadequate. API management will have a strong impact in propelling iPaaS adoption growth. As more organizations develop and connect to various APIs with partners or other third-party systems, API changes become a norm. An organization's ability to integrate and manage APIs including security, control and performance, will drive the iPaaS service as a critical integration platform as well an organization's future success. However, it is known that not all interfaces are exposed as Web services and thus are not accessible to Web service APIs. There may be some functionality that is not integrated using APIs.
Mobile application integration (MAI)
IPaaS integration works well for meeting current mobile application needs. As this market continues to expand exponentially, it'll be a challenge for iPaaS vendors to provide improvements in mobile middleware integration. Mobile integration has similar back-end engines and need for security, control and data access as the use cases previously discussed. Mobile backend as a service (MBaaS) may be a near future addition to iPaaS offerings. It will be essential to improve integration tools for setting up mobile backend systems, data integration and deliver similar tool sets and middleware to assist mobile application development.
IPaaS is the go-to integration approach for organizations needing a fast, and effective approach. It may not be the full solution an organization needs due to the existence of legacy enterprise applications. However, the integration of both cloud and legacy systems will become smoother as iPaas adoption and vendor competition increase and as improvements continue to be made in the iPaaS integration space.