These days you hear all sorts of folks refer to "the Cloud," as if there's some mystical bubble in the sky that stores all the data in the galaxy. While it's useful shorthand, "the Cloud" is not exactly an accurate picture of the real world. For one thing, your data does not live in the sky. And secondly, there are many (many!) clouds.
This latter truth is made obvious simply from all the non-connected consumer platforms out there: Google Drive, iCloud, OneDrive, DropBox, Crazy Al's World of Cloud… you get the picture.
When it comes to business data, however, we're talking about much more volume than what's needed to store your vacation photos and the first chapter and a half of your novel. Some brands require multiple platforms to store their own proprietary data. But when they need to use data sets in conjunction with one another — financial and payroll info, for example — they're not always in the same place at the same time.
What is iPaaS?
The traditional solution to this problem was to use local, on-site integration software. But it was a time-consuming, resource-eating, inelegant solution. Enter integration platform as a service: iPaaS.
Delivered as a set of cloud-based data integration utilities and applications, iPaaS integrates all of an organization's data, across multiple locations or clouds, and applies it to common business functions. The way it works is by acting as a platform that connects multiple services and applications from one integrated hub. The hosted platform then interacts with your organization from a single, enterprise-wide, centralized cloud-based platform.
Because iPaaS is vendor hosted, your organization doesn't need dedicated infrastructure or personnel to utilize it. Another benefit is that the tools offered by vendors can be easily managed by users. Features like customizable templates with drag-and-drop interfaces and ready-made algorithms for integration make iPaaS a good solution for weaving together multiple business processes across your enterprise.
On the other hand, because iPaaS needs to be a universal solution, it doesn't excel at everything. Traditional, on-premises integration platforms tend to outperform it when it comes to integrating complex applications. Of course, the downside of maintaining your own integration platform is the need for staff with the expertise to configure and manage the system.
When considering an iPaaS solution for your organization, you'll have to take into account the complexity of your integration needs. Experts estimate that around two-thirds of typical integration issues are not that complicated and can be handled using iPaaS.
Clearly, as iPaaS solutions mature, their ability to take on more complex applications will grow. With the way the market is already expanding — revenues across all iPaaS vendors were expected to top $400 million in 2016 and reach $1 billion by 2020 — it can be expected that iPaaS tools will be able to accommodate a broader spectrum of customer needs.
If your organization is finding it difficult to juggle all your data and integrate it with your business processes, iPaaS may be the solution for you.