The mixed concepts of iPaaS
iPaaS integration solutions for SaaS are too often complex, difficult to use, require technical knowledge of business entities, and target the wrong customer; namely your customer who often does not have the knowledge or the skill set to take on technical work. Viewed from a SaaS perspective that is an accurate assessment of most integration products being sold as SaaS integration solutions.
So just what is iPaaS?
iPaaS means integration Platform as a Service but what does that mean? iPaaS has been given many definitions in recent years, most of them complex and unappealing. The definitions don’t speak to us of the solutions they provide or the benefits brings but lend themselves to images of dev ops projects, technical difficulties, feature sets and maintenance.
iPaaS solutions are traditionally complex, require in-house dev ops, training and have high license fees.
Gartner, who probably coined the term, used 38 words to define iPaaS:
“Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) is 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.”
Quoting Gartner below once more, in 2017 they provided the key components of iPaaS (data mapping and transformation) but surrounded by a noise of difficult, time consuming and expensive barriers...
- Communication protocol connectors (FTP, HTTP, AMQP, MQTT, Kafka, AS1/2/3/4, etc.)
- Application connectors/adapters for SaaS and on-premises packaged applications
- Data formats (XML, JSON, ASN.1, etc.)
- Data standards (EDIFACT, HL7, SWIFT, etc.)
- Data mapping and transformation
- Data quality
- Routing and orchestration
- Integration flow development and life cycle management tools
- Integration flow operational monitoring and management
- Full life cycle API management
Other definitions seem simpler but perhaps more concerning, this one from Mulesoft:
“iPaaS is a platform for building and deploying integrations within the cloud and between the cloud and enterprise. With iPaaS, users can develop integration flows that connect applications residing in the cloud or on-premises and then deploy them without installing or managing any hardware or middleware.”
We need to reduce the complexity we find in traditional iPaaS
This has users (your customers) heavily involved in the development process. While this may be affordable and even possible for larger SaaS customers for the majority it is not. It seemed to us that there has been little in the definitions and functionality lists we have found to help solve the problems SaaS vendors face in delivering integration. Although this is not a simple area we need to find ways to reduce the complexity we find in traditional iPaaS and increase success across the whole SaaS to SaaS integration landscape including the full integration product life cycle.
For us iPaaS is about SaaS to SaaS integration. Linked2 is built from the ground up as an invisible on demand service for SaaS vendors. How we think about iPaaS reflects that.
Linked2 iPaaS is a cloud service that enables SaaS vendors to seamlessly deploy and manage integration to other SaaS vendors in order to add value and to create new revenue streams.
"Linked2 is built from the ground up as an invisible on demand service"
We don’t like to think about functionality lists. We much prefer to think in terms of success factors and benefits. In later blogs we’ll consider the tools needed to enable success factors and create benefits. With Linked2 iPaaS we implemented 7 key benefits we consider essential to successful SaaS integration.
- Invisible Integration
- Managed Integration
- White label
- On-boarding simplicity
- Flexible billing
- A method to leverage the white label opportunity for sustainability and growth
Of course we also do data validations, transformations, adhere to data standards (including GDPR), and connect to a variety of systems and so on. Without these there is no integration product but they are just the tools. It is how those tools are applied while keeping the key benefits we need to achieve at the forefront that creates the solution.
With Linked2 our tools and benefits are included in the license fee; we manage the entire integration product lifecycle from producing an integration product in the cleanest simplest way to fit with your business, creating an invisible (or near invisible) on-boarding process for your customers, effective communication channels, managed product maintenance, and help you to create new revenue streams to enable a sustainable profit making integration.
In part 2 of this blog we will dig deeper into the 7 key of benefits for SaaS to SaaS integration and what they really mean for successful and sustainable integration solutions.