According to Information Week, integration is one of the biggest challenges facing CIOs in 2019. As organizations focus on customer experience, the seamless integration of all customer-related applications and touchpoints is essential. Poor integration can have serious business implications. Forrester research found 93% of companies felt their integration strategies had lost customers and revenue. As IT environments become more complex, iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) offers an attractive solution for data and application integration. So, what should you look for in the best iPaaS vendors in 2021?
In 2016, the iPaaS market was worth just over $500 million. This is set to grow to approximately $2 billion by 2023. According to Reuters: “The Integration Platform as a Service market is not just growing, it is accelerating…Increasing traction of cloud computing applications is one major factor responsible for fueling the growth of the global integration platform as a service market.”
Today, there are many iPaaS vendors in the market. This means that iPaaS pricing and service offerings vary considerably. Any supplier of iPaaS has to be clear about not only what the can offer–what is the best iPaaS software, service portfolio, pricing models, etc? – but also exactly what your integration requirements are.
Selecting the right iPaaS vendor for you is important and should be relatively pain-free if you know what you’re looking for. This is a brief guide to help you when considering your Integration Platform as a Service options.
So, let’s start by quickly looking at how you define iPaaS.
What is iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service)?
Integration Platform as a Service is a Cloud-based service that provides a platform to support applications and systems that involve a wide variety of data sources and Cloud applications as well as others such as mobile and the Internet of Things (IoT). Traditionally, on-premise integration involved point-to-point connectivity between systems. The increasing number of applications as well as Cloud services has made this approach unsustainable. Combining on-premise and Cloud iPaaS delivers everything needed to deploy, manage, govern and integrate applications and services.
This iPaaS definition sees vendors deploying a range of automated tools to develop integration flows that connect and then deploy them without installing or managing any hardware or middleware. Common integration types for iPaaS: EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), EAI (Enterprise Application Integration), data integration, B2B (business-to-business) integration, Cloud service integration, mobile and social integration, and API management.
What to look for in an iPaaS vendor?
There are a number of capabilities that you should expect from your iPaaS provider, including:
Start with the platform
- Unsurprisingly, the place to begin is with the platform itself. The best iPaaS platforms enable centralized management of all your integrations inside and outside the organization. In this way you have a single view of all integrations while facilitating the real-time sharing and processing across all systems and data to allow fast, reliable and effective access to the application or information.
A comprehensive package of integrations
- There are many different types of integration that must take place within a modern enterprise. Process orchestration, system connectivity and data normalization; a complete Integration Platform as a Service platforms must be able to handle them all. However, iPaaS solutions may vary in how well they handle different integrations. At a minimum, your iPaaS vendor should offer the following integrations:
API management as optional part of the package
- Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) allow programmers to create software that quickly and effectively connects applications. API management is only criterial if your organization is building an integration Center of Excellence (iCOE) and integration is core to your business. The iPaaS solutions that include API management functionality are focused on empowering the developers to customize and extend the framework provided by iPaaS solutions. With API management, your organization have a single platform for complete control of the creation, deployment and management of APIs, allowing for a much quicker way to add new functions and scale integrations as necessary. Based in the Cloud, Integration Platforms as a Service with API management enable the effective integration of on-premise applications with Cloud services such as Salesforce.
A solid iPaaS roadmap
- One of the biggest iPaaS trends is Enterprise Integration as a Service (EiPaaS). EiPaaS vendors bundle a wide variety of integration types–B2B integration, IoT integration, process integration–with enterprise services such as high availability, disaster recovery., security and compliance the provider you work with should be able to offer EiPaaS or show that it’s something they are working towards. While in the selection process of a given vendor, it is critical to assess if the compliance is only on out of the box component or also on extended customizability. This becomes critical because in most cases the security and compliance are void and null as soon as vendor code is customized or extended. This add to your organization workload and certification/validation process.
A fully managed service
- The ability to manage increasingly complex IT environments is becoming more costly and time consuming. Today, iPaaS vendors are offering their platforms–like – OpenTextTM Alloy which is delivered as a fully managed service. Organizations can eliminate the day-to-day management of their integration capabilities, allowing valuable enterprise resources to focus on critical business priorities. In addition, managed services means you know that you always have the correct levels of skill and resource along with robust change management, process controls, and best practices to handle even the most complex of enterprise integrations. The most important but least talked about is the compliance and security. With OpenText Alloy, we deliver using configuration over customization, allowing implementation to tailor Alloy to your business needs. OpenText Alloy’s configuration driven approach preserving compliance and security from configuration to the core of the platform.
5 steps to selecting the best iPaaS vendor
With so many iPaaS providers to choose from, it can appear difficult to find the right one. Following these five easy steps will help you select the provider that’s right for you.
Define your data integration strategy
- The journey begins not with the provider but with you. You need to define your own data integration strategy. You need a clear understanding of the integrations you need and what you want to achieve from them. How many on-premise systems do you have and how many Cloud applications? Do you work with customers and partners? If so, your iPaaS solution will need to support B2B, A2A, IoT, IIoT integration use cases and protocol support (FTP,SFTP, AS2, HTTP, HTTPS, etc….) to make connections securely inside and outside your organization.
- What support services do you need? Is availability and scalability important? Do you need real-time data visibility over all your data flows and analytics on how things are preforming. How are you going to handle security and compliance when working with an iPaaS vendor?
Do your homework
- Once you understand your integration strategy and what you want to achieve, take time to get to know the iPaaS vendors. There are plenty of analytic reports covering Integration Platform as a Service. You can use those to narrow your search but then spend time with the vendors of interest. Meet with them and get to know what their exact capabilities are. Look for them to provide iPaaS use cases of similar organizations or within similar industries to your own. Importantly, will the iPaaS provider fit well within your corporate culture?
Focus on price and service
- Any iPaaS comparison should factor in that this is not all about the technology. What is the service portfolio of the iPaaS vendor like? Can they meet your requirements for performance, security and availability, for instance? Are they will to put all this within an SLA? Allied to service is iPaaS pricing. There are many pricing models available, but you want to get pricing for the breath of integrations and services you need. Keep in mind, when look at pricing you are comprehensive, look at the developer cost, consulting, professional services, hardware cost along with licensing cost with view of capacity scale-up with six-tenths rule ensuring you understand cost holistically.
Build the pilot
- Effective integration is key to the current and future success of your business. In addition, iPaaS–like any third-party service–has to be considered a long-term relationship but one where you can avoid vendor lock-in. Start small. Most iPaaS vendors will be more than happy to begin with a limited pilot to prove their capabilities but also to demonstrate how they will work with your systems and data. The pilot should give you confidence that the vendor can meet your integration requirements and also demonstrate how you can transfer those integrations from the provider should something change in the future.
Plan for integration implementations
- Even before the pilot, you can begin to plan for future implementations. Working with your iPaaS provider, you can set out the next steps after a successful pilot. Look at what integrations are next. It may be worth considering the data integration that is currently providing you with the most trouble. If the iPaaS vendor can fix that integration headache and show the cost savings and operational improvements, it will set you on a good course for further integrations.
Why choose OpenText as your iPaaS vendor?
OpenText is a leading provider of iPaaS. Our OpenText Alloy platform is one of the most feature-rich enterprise iPaaS platforms available delivering a wide range of enterprise integrations and services. In addition, our iPaaS offerings are available as a fully managed service giving you access to OpenText integration specialists. You have the assurance of a private global cloud infrastructure that is built with compliance in mind and delivers the highest levels of scalability, flexibility and security to meet your iPaaS requirements anywhere in the world.
Learn more about OpenText iPaaS Solutions.