An Ultimate Guide to ESB and iPaaS – Which one is better?


For the longest time, integration has been considered as one of the biggest challenges. Enterprises need integration to “become digital” and connect their data, systems, as well as devices to ensure a connected, collaborative experience.

Enterprises relying on point-to-point integration solutions struggled with a mess-like code created by a multitude of point-to-point connections, but following the introduction of Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), this problem got resolved to a great extent. ESB integration eliminates “spaghetti mess” structure and replaces it with a well-defined pluggable system which is both scalable and flexible. ESB also offers a way to leverage existing systems and expose them to a new type of applications.

However, like every technology, ESB too after having its fair share of good times failed to evolve to meet changing enterprise technological architecture’s challenges. It is no longer adequate to tackle hybrid infrastructure along with proliferating endpoints. Moreover, it alleviates the organization’s integration capabilities by posing technical as well as infrastructural troubles. Over time enterprises looked beyond and embraced competitive technologies such as iPaaS.

However, despite such pitfalls, the usage of ESB is still there. In fact, many organizations rely on ESB solutions extensively to integrate on-premises and aggregated systems such as SAP.

This blog throws lights on how useful application integration solutionsOpens a new window like ESB and iPaaS are for driving growth, and whether one is better over the other or both coexist.


ESB is an architecture pattern that helps enterprises communicate with a wide range of applications at once and allows data transfer simultaneously. It works like a switchboard that leverages routing of information between disparate software and applications. With a highly complex architecture, ESB is ideal for on-premise legacy systems, and a few can manage cloud-based data and applications too.


Integration platform as a service (iPaaS) on the other hand, allows cloud integrations with a light-weight, multi-tenant, and horizontally scalable architecture. iPaaS is an agile and adaptable technology, which allows easier integration of new applications in an existing framework. For companies who want to execute real-time analytics or consolidate data from a variety of applications or devices into a single, unified view, iPaaS serves the best.

iPaaS Vs ESB

ESB and iPaaS have similar kinds of role to play; they integrate enterprise applications and systems. But, there are certain differences.

Application Integration

With an on-premises software architecture model, ESB manages the complexity within legacy or local systems. ESB solution can configure and coordinate a wide range of data and applications, but it cannot support ad hoc cloud-native integrations easily and efficiently.

iPaaS, on the other hand, is an application integration platform that is suitable for a public cloud and do not need on-premise hardware or software to function. It tackles various document standards such as REST, JSON, etc. and lightweight messaging apps.


Multi-tenancy allows multiple groups of users to gain access to data stored on a server simultaneously. iPaaS solutions support multi-tenancy, and it can be used to effectively reduce redundancies in integration processes. In addition, it can cut down administrative and infrastructure costs to a minimum. On the flip side, ESB solutions are less adept at being multitenant. This is because the complexity posed by multitenancy cannot be handled by ESB.


Complex IT systems and architecture can be integrated with the help of an ESB solution. ESB integrates enterprises’ legacy systems and enterprise’s on-premises. On the other hand, iPaaS provides lightweight integration solutionOpens a new window and fits well for integrating real-time, flexible applications.


When it comes to scalability, ESB and iPaaS solutions differ in their capacity to scale. ESB is well-suited for vertical scaling. It can be used to deal with the expansion of myriad resources including, power, speed, and capacity. iPaaS can be counted for horizontal scaling that involves the addition of new applications long with components to the existing environment.

Coexistence is the Key

Both ESB and iPaaS have a crucial responsibility in handling the company’s data management activities. While ESB is a befitting option for companies that work with local or legacy systems, iPaaS offers a powerful alternative for enterprises banking on cloud-native applications, real-time analytics, streaming data etc.

Truth is, ESB and iPaaS are not enemies but healthy competitors. Both display their use cases and benefits and can be used within one organization for meeting integration needs.

Point to note: Prior to selecting the type of integration method, make sure you find what your priorities and then choose accordingly.