What Is Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS)? Definition, Components, Providers, and Trends


Integration platform as a service (iPaaS) is defined as a set of cloud-based tools that enable the deployment, management, and integration of software applications and services across different platforms. Organizations can easily integrate on-premise applications with cloud applications by adopting iPaaS architecture. This article explains the basics of iPaaS and lists the top trends to look out for.

Table of Contents

What Is Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS)? 

Integration platform as a service (iPaaS) is a set of cloud-based tools that enable the deployment, management, and integration of software applications and services across different platforms. Organizations can easily integrate on-premise applications with cloud applications by adopting iPaaS architecture.

iPaaS is a cloud framework that connects disjointed software to provide a one-stop solution. This framework enables communication across diverse systems and also facilitates integration and data sharing. Such functionality unlocks the potential for varied platforms to work collaboratively.

Today, consumer behavior has changed radically. It has been observed that most consumers are looking for instant solutions to their problems in addition to constant communication and feedback. Due to this shift in attitude, businesses are finding it difficult to cope with such dynamic customer requirements. With new demands, businesses need to incorporate advanced tech tools to manage the volume of growing customer requests, which can be an expensive affair.

How iPaaS Functions

SaaS companies provide a solution to this problem. However, they do not completely address the issue, as SaaS software firms operate in silos (i.e., departments), which means they fetch data from the cloud and on-site frameworks to fulfill their own stack. This causes severe problems in integrating various systems and acts as an obstacle to clients’ success.

As different departments operating on diverse platforms try to collaborate and work on a common task, each department has a critical role to play. However, the disparate nature of systems causes loss of data and misalignment of critical information. The systems need a better solution, and this is where iPaaS comes into the picture. 

iPaaS architecture promotes the integration of all applications, technologies, and even systems in a cloud-based environment, where the cloud may either be an on-premise framework or off-premise. iPaaS allows deployment of the integration process without any external hardware or middleware by a software company or an individual user.

With iPaaS, companies are open to extending their service portfolio without building an extra set of services. They can integrate the already existing software to deliver the required service. In this way, added services can be offered as a more robust solution to customers in addition to the already existing set of services.

iPaaS boosts customer satisfaction by many folds. Consider an example where you sell billing software to your clients to complete their billing formalities for transactions performed by customers. As time passes, you realize that your client expects customers to leave feedback via the same billing software you delivered. To address this requirement, you could build a new software feature that allows customers to leave their comments. Another solution for this is adopting iPaaS. With iPaaS, you can integrate your software with already existing review and payment gateways. Such a solution reduces expenses significantly and satisfies your clients’ needs at the same time.

A report by Expert Market Research predicts that the global iPaaS market will grow at a CAGR of 38% from 2021 to 2026. The projected market value for 2026 is approximately $13 billion. Various services such as application integration, real-time monitoring and integration, and cloud services are playing a vital role in the growing iPaaS market.

Read More: What Is Platform as a Service (PaaS)? Definition, Examples, Components, and Best Practices

Examples of iPaaS

iPaaS acts as an effective medium of connection and communication between all applications and data existing within a company. Let’s look at some of the top iPaaS platforms that are operational globally.

1. Workato

Workato fits into any business and facilitates integration across different environments and systems that drive a company. Workato’s iPaaS framework has in-built 150,000+ automated workflows that connect apps, environments, and systems and aids in accomplishing target tasks. This is achieved by combining tasks, apps, triggers, events, and actions. It allows getting a head-start into non-conventional integrations.

2. Dell Boomi

Dell Boomi provides various features such as application and integration, application deployment, API design, B2B management, and workflow automation. These functionalities are boxed within a single master hub. Boomi allies users to design end-to-end workflows and process data across multiple applications. This solution is suitable for enterprises and small businesses from diverse industries.

3. Informatica

Informatica is regarded as a top-ranked iPaaS provider due to its unparalleled customer loyalty, which gives it an edge over other solutions. The company specializes in enterprise-level iPaaS solutions. According to a 2021 Gartner report, Informatica holds the largest global market share of 15% of $3.47 billion for iPaaS.

4. Celigo

Celigo’s iPaaS framework looks after FTP integrations that are easy to handle and also complex integrations that are fairly complicated to manage. Additionally, the application marketplace of Celigo lists vetted apps that are required for various business needs. 

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5. Jitterbit

Jitterbit helps businesses that lack the requisite resources to build integrations across company assets. It tries to overcome the stress of building application programming interfaces (APIs) between two distinct environments, on-premise and cloud systems, by offering rapid integration with their platforms. This solution offers advanced workflow capabilities with real-time integration and a wide range of data security features. It also has a visual designer to run the setup and monitor processes without the need for a dedicated staff for the same.

6. Blendr.io

Blendr.io provides standardized self-service integrations. Additionally, it also offers the creation of complex enterprise-grade integrations via a low-code visual builder. Besides, Blendr.io has facilities that support the embedding of integrations into the UI of other SaaS platforms.

7. Mulesoft

Mulesoft offers a solution called ‘CloudHub’, which provides a cloud integration option. This platform comes with multi-tenancy features (multiple independent instances of one or many applications operate in a shared environment). The instances under consideration are termed as tenants, which are physically integrated despite their logical isolation. Multi-tenancy is worked around integrations and APIs. Mulesoft’s iPaaS supports cloud deployment across eight regions globally, with plenty of workers, distinct cloud, and compliance features in place. It further gives deeper insights into platform-deployed applications based on several metrics used to analyze iPaaS data.

8. Zapier

Zapier allows businesses of all sizes to design and manage custom integration solutions that fit their requirements. Zapier’s iPaaS connects various apps, automated workflows and shares data across disjointed systems. It is a user- and wallet-friendly option in the iPaaS community. Zapier stacks new integrations (termed ‘zaps’) to its massive integration library every week. Hence, there is a high probability of finding the right custom solution within the iPaaS space of Zapier due to its frequent updates.

Also Read: What Is Software as a Service (SaaS)? Definition, Examples, Types, and Trends

Key Components of Integration Platform as a Service

Being a cloud-based tool, iPaaS can manage high volumes of data produced by various environments. The primary objective of iPaaS is to provide essential support during an integration process while keeping disruptions to a minimum level. Let’s look at some core components of iPaaS solutions.

  1. Connectivity: Firstly, iPaaS solutions ensure that various apps can connect with each other, allowing seamless collaboration.
  2. Application integration: This component holds the logic for how and when data is communicated between apps. It mainly deals with the routing and orchestration of data.
  3. Data integration: Here, sender and receiver data objects are distinctly mapped to ensure smooth data association between disparate environments.
  4. API management: API management implies managing the APIs that are essential in the integration process. These components are a part of the underlying architecture of an iPaaS solution. 

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Let’s take a look at the iPaaS architecture in brief.

  • On-premise: Enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and enterprise data warehouse (EDW) can include any on-premise data source or target. However, they are usually attributed to vendor solutions. They are a part of a combination of commercial, open-source, or custom-developed products. Here, data sources could include data lakes or other massively parallel processing (MPP) systems.
  • Cloud applications: Cloud applications deal with cloud-based CRM sources. Salesforce could be an example of it. Further, even custom cloud-hosted applications with exposed APIs fit well as cloud applications.
  • Cloud data sources: A cloud data source could include a real-time data feed. Social media handles such as Twitter, Facebook, etc., can be considered as common examples. 
  • Cloud computing clusters: Cloud computing clusters cover the databases hosted by cloud solution providers. Examples could be AWS or Azure-hosted products.
  • Internet of Things (IoT): IoT encompasses mobile devices or gadgets that act as both, data sources and targets. Other IoT entities could include any device-based data source, such as sensors. 
  • iPaaS: iPaaS is a web interface that is hosted on the iPaaS vendor’s cloud. It is an intermediary that manages connectors to all on-premise and other cloud-based data sources and targets.

Read More: Top 10 Cloud Security Challenges to Overcome in 2021

Top 7 iPaaS Trends to Watch in 2021

It is safe to say that iPaaS has brought about significant digital transformation. This digital change was inevitable, as the need of the hour for organizations is to connect and collaborate over various platforms. iPaaS has played a pivotal role in providing a helping hand in integrating various applications, processes, programs, and data, thereby lowering the complexities of combining platforms.

Thus, iPaaS has been one of the most trending topics of cloud computing. With a market inclination toward the application of real-time integration, mobility, and ecommerce, the iPaaS market can only be expected to surge over the coming years. Let’s take a look at the top seven iPaas trends to watch out for in 2021.

Top iPaaS Trends to Watch out for in 2021

1. Connectivity will make headlines

Traditionally, employees within an organization used software that was installed on their independent systems. However, with advancements in technology (i.e., virtualization) and changes in work format (i.e., hybrid or remote work), especially post COVID-19 outbreak, the collaboration of various platforms has become significant.

Organizations are now comfortable using software that is installed on various platforms. Hence, sharing critical information across the organization calls for the establishment of seamless connectivity. iPaaS performs this important function by ensuring the integration of varied platforms as per business requirements. Connectivity will surely be a trending topic in the cloud computing space over the coming years.

2. Innovation will be key

iPaaS has provided ample integration opportunities. The evolution of iPaaS over the years has made users hopeful that it will play a leading role in concretizing connectivity aspects. They expect it to help generate time-series data and track real-time events across environments. This will require establishing newer protocols, especially in cases where upcoming technologies such as blockchain get integrated with iPaaS. As such, innovation will be an important factor for iPaaS to thrive.

3. The need for seamless integration will arise

As software, applications, and operating platforms undergo constant updates, seamless and smooth integration is essential for businesses to avoid time lags or any downtime in operations. iPaaS allows swift completion of processes by maintaining the standard quality of the services. Agile integrations will aid iPaaS in exercising microservices with modern technology.

4. CRM-based integration will be essential

Many players embrace CRM software with businesses wanting to connect their customer service systems with customer contacts. Yet, connecting ERP, business intelligence (BI), and analytics platforms with CRM continues to pose a challenge. However, any such successful integration will give organizations an idea of their entire customer portfolio. It will also help businesses in automating their operations. Hence, the growing demand for iPaaS to become a single platform, including front-end and back-end systems, will gain steam in the years ahead.

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5. Businesses will need to keep abreast with the ecommerce boom

In recent times, instances of businesses switching to B2B or B2C platforms have been rare. This is mainly because with such platforms, businesses need to zero in on managing sales, scrutinizing inventory and orders, looking over online sales of products, and many other tasks. As iPaaS enters this stream, ecommerce players will be able to control their back-end processes, websites, and ERP systems. iPaaS integration into ecommerce will allow the cross-platform flow of critical information with lower IT outlays.

6. Cellular chatbots will come to the fore

Today, all ecommerce sites are loaded with chatbots. Organizations are now engaged in incorporating chatbots in their mobile applications to capture more customer-centric information, which can help them in lead conversion in the future. Additionally, such chatbots will promote more customer interactions and consequently drive mobile commerce (m-commerce). 

7. Machine learning and artificial intelligence will take center stage

ML and AI tech has penetrated all sectors in recent decades. Organizations heavily rely on them as they reduce manual efforts significantly and help in automation. An example would be allowing customers to place requests via voice command features or chatbots. 

On integrating iPaaS with AI and ML, businesses could find permanent solutions for data quality, code reviews, meta-data identification, message data masking, and others. Advanced tech plus iPaaS could help reduce manpower and expenditure, which businesses can then invest into other critical aspects.

All the above trends open up the possibility for efficient and better utilization of iPaaS platforms to solve current challenges by adopting innovative solutions. Most importantly, it will allow the integration of all business applications under one platform. This will automate business processes and facilitate easy handling of future customer demands. 

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In conclusion

With widespread cloud adoption by businesses, iPaaS has become an integral component of cloud computing technology. iPaaS, along with other cloud apps, has allowed organizations to handle emerging problems such as cross-platform integration. iPaaS platforms are standardized on how applications are to be integrated in an organization, which has helped automate business processes and enabled data sharing across platforms with greater agility than legacy systems. 

Companies leveraging iPaaS technologies can cut down on manual work and lower dependency on emails and spreadsheets. iPaaS helps organizations ensure complete visibility into their business, increases the speed of their operations, and ensures enhanced accuracy across deployed platforms.

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