ETL, ESB, and middleware are all established players in the integration space, familiar acronyms or ideas that likely elicit yawns (if not terror) from IT professionals and confusion or indifference from outsiders. But there’s a (relatively) new acronym on the market that is getting people excited about integration across departments: iPaaS.
Gartner defines integration platform as a service, or iPaaS, as “a suite of cloud services enabling development, execution and governance of integration flows connecting any combination of on premises and cloud-based processes, services, applications and data within individual or across multiple organizations.”
While that’s a bit of a mouthful, it still doesn’t provide the full background that differentiates iPaaS from traditional ETL and ESB integration approaches. A recent ComputerWorld article tackles this topic, exploring the shift from traditional middleware solutions to iPaaS and pointing out some key features of this growing market. Here are a few of the features ComputerWorld identified, as well as some that those of us at Jitterbit think are important as well.
iPaaS is a growing market
IDC has estimated that the entire data integration and access market, which includes both traditional middleware and iPaaS solutions, could reach the $5 billion mark soon, and Gartner thinks an impressive 55% growth rate will take the iPaaS market alone to $1 billion within three years. The explosive growth of this area of the technology industry is caused by a number of factors, including the proliferation of cloud and mobile applications, a bring-your-own-app approach where employees choose the applications they want to use in the workplace, and the expansion of connected devices providing data that needs to be available in other systems. The rapid developments in the integration space are fueling the rise of iPaaS, and companies and investors alike would do well to invest in and pay attention to this area.
iPaaS takes a neutral stance on integration
While individual software vendors are increasingly developing their own integration options for letting their customers connect to other systems, using an integration solution developed by a biased software vendor may not be the best option for most companies. ERP vendors may be hesitant to provide integration options that make it easy for their customers to connect to other ERP systems, for example, fearing that their customers will simply defect to the other system. So companies need to look for integration options that are developed to be truly neutral – not simply in terms of not offering a competing application, but in terms of the actual technology being used.
Just like collaboration software is moving toward “extreme collaboration,” integration has to move toward extreme neutrality, enabling any vendor to connect to any other type of system. “My view is the cloud environment will remain extremely fragmented, so there will always be a need for someone to play Switzerland, for some platform to integrate across these vendors,” Gartner analyst Massimo Pezzini told ComputerWorld, underscoring the need for neutrality in this market.
iPaaS makes integration simple
One of the biggest problems with ESB integration is the expertise required to set up and maintain an ESB. Instead of empowering business users to connect applications, as iPaaS solutions do, old-school approaches like ESB require heavy IT and developer involvement. But this isn’t always necessary: Pezzini thinks that 60 to 70 percent of integration issues are iPaaS compatible and don’t need the heavy ESB infrastructure that used to be assigned to them by default.
Instead of being forced to resort to the ESB option, modern companies can choose a more flexible iPaaS solution that is faster to implement and easier to use. Especially in companies where speed is important and technical resources need to stay focused on internal development, the iPaaS is a smart way to simplify integration and empower business users.
iPaaS is cloud-compatible
Traditional ESB and ETL solutions were often developed to be used with on-premise systems like databases that need to be secured behind a firewall. However, cloud services have grown rapidly over the past decade and are expected to exceed $200 billion in 2016. Research also finds that 95 percent of companies are using cloud, demonstrating that integration options need to look beyond on-premise systems and into the cloud – or risk being left behind.
The advantage of iPaaS is that it’s built to connect any type of system, including cloud and on-premise. Modern businesses use a diverse array of applications that are constantly shifting based on employee preferences, market trends, and customer demands. This heterogeneous environment requires a powerful solution capable of working with many different systems. In other words, it requires iPaaS.
iPaas lets you think outside the office
The logical next step after connecting to any type of application is being able to connect to your customers. ESB, ETL, and middleware solutions are all focused internally, on the applications a company uses to run its day-to-day business. But what if you could connect to the systems that your customers use, in order to help them get more out of your products and services, as well as help you understand how they use those products and services? At Jitterbit, we think that looking outside the walls of your own enterprise is the next step for integration, and this step requires an iPaaS that is neutral, simple, compatible with any type of application – yours or your customers’ – as well as natively scalable. Jitterbit Harmony is set up to meets these needs now and in the future.
If the evolution of integration from ESB to iPaaS sounds good to you, give Harmony a try:
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