Should you be moving on from traditional IPaaS solutions?
Yes, traditional iPaaS is a dying software category. Modern, forward thinking and competitive businesses are now rapidly investing in Next Generation iPaaS and EiPaaS (Enterprise iPaaS) technologies and methodologies.
Gartner Predicts Up to Two-Thirds of iPaaS Vendors Will Not Survive past 2023 …read more.
“We have increasingly seen business with complex software ecosystems, looking to move away from old fashioned, slow and heavy integration platforms, and shift to new ways of working. Ways which remove the need for long-term integration projects, expensive implementation costs and fragile iPaaS software.
Ultimately these businesses want to achieve the goals of their integration strategies, but without the barriers of incumbent iPaaS solutions.”
Juha Berghäll, CEO of ONEiO Cloud Oy
About this article
We explore the often-misunderstood definitions of the different iPaaS categories and solutions. Then present a wide range of modern and innovative solutions, which will help you to achieve your integration objectives, whilst reducing complexity, cost and time-spent on implementing, managing and maintaining integrations.
Table of contents
- What is iPaaS?
- What is EiPaaS/enterprise integration?
- Why will a business invest in an integration platform as a service?
- What integration tools should you consider?
- What limitations do traditional IPaaS solutions present?
- Cloud integration platforms and SaaS integrations
- Hybrid integration platforms
- An overview of Next Generation iPaaS
What is iPaaS?
As your ecosystem of software and services within the business grows, you need to implement new systems to prevent the complexity and size of that ecosystem slowing down your day to day work. We use Integration Platforms in order to manage each integration we have from a single place. This often requires large amounts of manual work to ‘connect up’ each application you are using to your iPaaS provider, normally using APIs to facilitate the exchange of data. The benefits of iPaaS are that you can see all your integrations in a one dashboard style view and manage the activity on those integrations from that single place too.
Commonly, integration projects come from need to connect one existing platform to another, for example ServiceNow to Jira. However, many businesses then see the advantage of adding more applications and services to their network of integrated applications, so that they may extend the benefits of software integrations to a wide range of people and teams around the business.
One of the main setback businesses experience with iPaaS, is the length and cost of the implementations. iPaaS providers typically place a large amount of heavy lifting on the end users and mirror the working practices of old-fashioned integration methodologies. Many IT leaders are now finding ways round these time and costs limitations, by moving towards Next Generation iPaaS technologies and techniques
What is EiPaaS / enterprise integration?
Larger organisations approach integration differently. Their needs tend to be much more about improving operational efficiency and creating better processes for managing data/knowledge across the whole business. Succeeding in these areas can become more challenging as the number of applications they use grow and the number of people and teams needing access to a wider range of software and insights increases.
Enterprise iPaaS projects typically look to enable specific business capabilities and objectives rather than simply connecting up one platform to another. This is why we treat application integrations and enterprise integrations differently. Traditionally these differences might drive business and IT leaders to make different technology or integration provider choices, so that they may have more tailored solutions for their integration needs. However, in more recent years and with the emergence of Next Generation iPaaS tooling, we can now use one simple set of tools to manage integrations of all shapes and sizes.
Enterprise integration projects might often be handled by third parties. This is often done in order to ensure integration is managed alongside other outsourced IT services or perhaps to reduce the project management burden on the end users. The former reason is very much becoming more popular as, centralising the outsourcing of IT services makes for a much simpler customer experience. However, the latter reason is becoming less popular as even large enterprise integration projects are becoming quicker, easier and cheaper to deliver with modern integration approaches.
Why will a business invest in an integration platform as a service?
Investing in iPaaS is not always a straightforward decision. The costs can be very high and implementation timelines can seem quite unpredictable. However, many businesses feel that the process of managing integrations manually with non-centralization creates huge amounts of waste in the day-to-day IT operations. Particularly when integrations are hand-made or coded, as these integrations are often incredibly fragile and frequently break.
Businesses who experience high volumes of integration-caused outages look to iPaaS as a one-stop solution for reducing downtime across integrations and the services that depend on them. One of the biggest barriers to making this investment however, are the unpredictable setup and maintenance costs. These high costs are typically driven by the fact that most integrations (even those within the major or incumbent iPaaS providers) are built from scratch every time. This creates a great deal of waste within the setup cycles for many integrations and also often requires a deep knowledge of the APIs being used to establish the integrations.
Modern methods of Service Integration (Next Generation iPaaS), are actually now able to remove all setup costs and timelines by leveraging pre-built integrations. These concepts are a significant leap forward for the integration marketplace and iPaaS software category in general, as it fundamentally enables end-users to setup their own integrations, normally within less than a single day.
This is a very disruptive change for iPaaS users; as not only does it lower the upfront AND overall costs of integration, but also removes much of the need for any third-party consultation, project management or on-going support agreements.
What integration tools should you consider?
Gartner Predicts Up to Two-Thirds of iPaaS Vendors Will Not Survive By 2023. In 2019 Gartner published their speculation of the Integration as a Platform marketspace seeing a huge shift over the next 4 years. Traditional players in iPaaS sich as Dell Boomi, Informatica and IBM App Connect, could well be the software providers Gartner are referring too.
This is not just due to the capabilities of the software itself, but because the business models behind these software incumbents, do not support or align with the new ways of working, which the core of their customer base is switching to.
These incumbent software solutions are built around the long, slow and expensive project management methodologies of the last decade, which see integration as a manual task made simpler through software. In reality and what we are now clearly seeing in the iPaaS marketplace, is that integration is easy, instant and low cost.
Because of these shifts in customer expectation, it will be the lighter, faster and more non-IT-centric tools that become the market leaders in the run up to (and beyond) 2023. Products such as ONEiO, who sit within the Next Generation iPaaS category are the products which end users should be looking to adopt and implement right now. Not only because of the more modern and flexible nature of their features, but also because they need to avoid any further investment into heavy duty iPaaS solutions, which they will be forced to move away from in just a few years’ time.
What limitations do traditional iPaaS solutions present?
One of the biggest set-backs of using traditional integration solutions, such as the incumbent iPaaS providers mentioned above, is that you end up paying large and hard to manage setup costs. Despite some of these solutions providing subscription style pricing to use the platforms, you can’t simply ‘join’ new applications to the platform… instead you need to build them. The process of building integrations is what makes the traditional iPaaS providers slow and expensive to use.
This is made worse by integrations often being so complex to make, that you need to outsource or turn to the software provider for support in using the various APIs or creating the customised code required. So, using providers who offer pre-built integrations should be extremely important to your decision making and software selection.
We have to move away from this idea of ‘Integration Projects’. Where we set long timeframes place specific software integrations as milestones further and further down the timeline. Integration is no longer a ‘feature’ within our software ecosystem, but a ‘capability’ within our business.
Integrations are connections, which are quick, easy and automated that require little-to-no planning. ‘Integration’ (with a big I) is then a capability, which you create a continual improvement strategy around. This is because successful Integration involves and equal balance of tools, people and processes and each of these areas need to mature and improve at a consistent pace.
Modern integration does away with long project timelines, and instead emphasizes on increasing maturity overtime. So, when selecting either a tool and/or a delivery partner, ensure they subscribe to this way of thinking and working too.
When you use a multitude of tools and methods to integrate your software and services, you introduce more and more complexity to your ecosystem with every integration. Older iPaaS technologies, don’t use single language or (truly) centralized solutions for integrations. Instead they just act as a home for a hotchpotch of hand-built and API-led integrations.
As your ecosystem and utilization of iPaaS grows, so does the fragility and technical debt within your IT systems. Modern and Next Generation iPaaS introduces the use of brokers, adapters and a single language, which your applications share in order to all use the same integration methodology. A truly shared and centralized integration hub enables you to build, manage and scale your integrations in the most flexible way possible. This is something that traditional iPaaS tools cannot offer, due to the cumbersome and highly de-centralized nature of the methods on which they are built upon.
Cloud integration platforms
Older integration platforms still position themselves as on-premises or self-hosted solutions. Sometimes these tools come with a sales pitch around ownership and security of data and so on. However, these are often heavily ‘spun’ ideas, which you should definitely be ignoring in 2020 and beyond.
Any integration solution you look to implement should be cloud based. This is because cloud based iPaaS is significantly more affordable, flexible and ultimately more secure too. The most innovative platforms are not actually ‘hosting’ your data, they simply route and direct it like traffic. This not only reduces risk around data and security, but radically improves agility and fluidity of how data travels around your network. The result of which, is seamless and real-time data synchronisation, providing every person and team with the most up-to-date and accurate data at all times.
Hybrid integration platforms and SaaS integrations
One of the biggest challenges fast growing organisations have, is that a percentage of their tools are cloud/SaaS based and another percentage are on-premise or self/hosted. This comes with a wide range of integration difficulties, which older iPaaS technologies struggle to support.
But before we go into more detail around how we manage hybrid environments, it is important to dispel a commonly heard myth, which is that you cannot integrate on-premise software with cloud-based software. This is not true at all. You should also not pay attention to providers who want you to pay a premium fee for hybrid integrations due to the added complexity. Modern integration providers don’t take this approach. Instead they treat each integration as equal in measure and look to equate cost with the business value that integration creates OR, charge flat fees per integration (usually per month also).
A common hybrid integration we come across is connecting one organisation’s instance of ServiceNow, to another instance of ServiceNow in another organisation (such as an MSP or third-party supplier). One version of ServiceNow will be cloud-based and the other will on premise. This is actually a very straightforward integration. The complexity will never come from the technical aspects of where the software is hosted, as the location of software does not significantly affect the methods of exchanging data . Instead the complexity will come from the mapping of processes and ways of working across the two organisations. And when you are able to reduce the difficulty of integrating tools (by adopting modern iPaaS) you then have far more time and resource available to focus on the people and process side of the work.
An overview of Next Generation iPaaS
Next Generation iPaaS is replacing the way we integration software and services, with a simple, fast and highly affordable method of bringing software together. Next generation iPaaS includes an ecoystem of integrations to applications and service providers.
The and most important change that Next Generation iPaaS introduces, is that it focuses on improving business capabilities such as business-wide collaboration and operational efficiency. Whereas traditional iPaaS are far more focused on supporting the day-to-day running specific IT functions. This elevated way of thinking enables mature iPaaS users to leverage their investment in integrations to really improve the way their business acts and competes within its market place.
Next Generation iPaaS also introduces a number of major benefits including; unlimited many-to-many connections, 100% subscription-based pricing and a ‘only pay for what you use’ commitments. This not only makes the technology the most ‘fit for purpose’ in modern, fast-moving businesses, but aligns with the most forward-thinking business models and financing methods too.
If you would like to learn more about Next Generation iPaaS, you can read our quick and easy to read introductory eGuide.