Before we discuss how to choose the right integration platform or iPaaS, let’s understand why an organization would need an integration platform. Whether you are a small company with a few applications or a big enterprise organization with various on-premises and cloud applications, you have data flowing through various business applications. You may be on the journey of “digital transformation.” You may be looking for cloud migration or adoption. In all scenarios, your applications must talk to one another. It is important to have integrations between various applications, whether on-premises, in-the-cloud, modern, or legacy.
Bottom Line: Connected applications are a necessity for Digital Transformation.
Organizations need to think about integration as a strategic capability to deal with the unscaled adoption of new applications and improve the ability to connect everything in this new digital business environment.
Why Do We need an Integration Platform and Things to Consider when Choosing an iPaaS
Traditionally, organizations use custom coding or write large-scale programs to accomplish Point to Point (P2P) or stay connected from one application to another. In some scenarios, organizations do a good job with custom development for integrating their small number of applications. Still, custom-coded P2P can become a big headache when organizations grow and deal with large applications. Major issues that can arise with custom-coded P2P solutions are:
- Any changes in Application APIs, JSON / data structure, result in re-development and testing in case P2P integrations
- P2P integrations quickly become unmanageable, brittle, and damaging to both the IT budget and the organization’s ability to meet current and changing business needs
- P2P integrations result in high development and maintenance costs and poor performance
- Data security can be a big pain area in P2P custom integration
To overcome the pain of custom coding, many product companies have developed Integration Platforms which are ready to use with very little or near zero coding.
So, the first question to ask yourself is, “When should I look for an integration platform?”
Drivers for iPaaS:
Here are a few drivers who may be relevant to you:
- Alignment with Digital Cloud transformation and adoption strategy
- Ease of use and maintainability
- Reduced TCO (licensing costs) as compared to on-premises solutions
- Ability to handle hybrid/co-existence scenarios
- On-Premises to Cloud
- On-Premises to On-Premises
- Low Code platform
- Support for various EDI formats and data standards
- Limited infrastructure overhead
- High data security and compliance
- Seamless platform/product upgrades with minimal cost overheads
- Single platform for multiple business needs
- Point-to-point integration (P2P)
- Master Data Management (Data Synchronization)
- API Management
- Workflow Management
If your business strategy or IT needs to fall under any of the drivers mentioned above, you should look for an integration platform!
There are many leading integration platforms on the market, so you may be confused about which is suitable for your organization. I will try to simplify things for you based on my expertise and experience with various iPaaS products.
I suggest making your selection criteria or iPaaS evaluation in 4 main steps:
Step 1: Look out for Core Features/Desired Capabilities
There are various features you should be looking for in an integration platform. An integration platform as a service or iPaaS should have the following desired capabilities or core features:
- Pre-built generic connectors / Adaptors (HTTP, FTP, SMTP, REST, SOAP, Web Server, Database, OData, etc.)
- Application connectors/adapters for SaaS and on-premises packaged applications (Salesforce, Oracle, NetSuite, SuccessFactors, Workday, SAP, Coupa, etc.)
- Supported Data formats (XML, JSON, Flat File, etc.)
- Supported Data standards (EDIFACT, HL7, SWIFT, etc.)
- Real-Time and Batch processing capabilities
- Support for API Authentication and Authorization
- API Life cycle management
- Data mapping and transformation (ETL) capabilities as box features
- Mapping suggest/recommendation engine
- Bulk data processing
- CI/CD integration capabilities
- Custom Connector development kit or SDK
- Routing and orchestration
- Integration flow development and life cycle management tools
- Integration flow operational monitoring and management
- Full life cycle API management
- Data synchronization or MDM capabilities (On a need basis)
- Trading Partners integration
- Dashboard and Reporting
Step 2: Comparison among Various iPaaS Middleware Implementation
Once you have shortlisted a few integration platforms or iPaaS based on generic capabilities, it’s time to compare each platform and narrow it down further. Various parameters can help you compare platforms. The important parameters are:
- Architecture- You should check if the integration platform has multi-tenant architecture or not. Multi-tenant architecture should be more robust and the same for all users/customers of a particular production company. With a multi-tenant architecture, you will ensure that you are using one version of the integration platform used by all users or organizations using the respective integration platform as a service or iPaaS.
- Ease of Use and Skillset Dependency- You should evaluate how easy the IPaaS Middleware Implementation is of an integration platform. It would be best if you went with the platform which provides you near to zero coding needs so that you won’t need to hire a dedicated high-cost team to implement and maintain your integrations. Nowadays, most iPaaS come with drag-n-drop UI experience. It will help in reducing the iPaaS Middleware Implementation time and faster to market. It can help in your overall TCO for development and maintenance.
- Addressing Complex Requirements- You should evaluate the out-of-the-box features for ETL / data transformation capabilities. You should be looking for out-of-the-box functions and business rules for complex data transformation so that you won’t need to write complex codes.
- AI Capabilities- Most of the integration platforms go through frequent upgrades. Product companies might add new features (like new connectors, security upgrades, etc.) during the upgrade or fix any prior issues. You should look for an integration platform that has a record of zero to minimal impact on existing integrations. A bad selection will result in heavy re-engineering effort on platform upgrades.
- Data Security- When using an integration platform, you should ensure that your data or critical information is not flowing through the Cloud and the integration platform complies with security norms.
- High Volume Data Processing- One of the most important parameters you should look for is the capability of an integration platform to process high-volume data in seconds. The integration platform should support batch processing and should be able to handle very high-volume requests.
- Licensing Costs- Various integration product companies offer various licensing models and pricing. The pricing may be based on connectors, CPU usage, data volume, etc. I would recommend connector-based pricing as it will not limit you on CPU usage. You should do your due diligence on how many applications you will integrate and the many connectors you need. Compare the cost among various iPaaS Middleware Implementation. You should ensure that you are getting unlimited records processing capabilities and no constraints on data volume.
- Case Studies- It’s always good to go through each shortlisted iPaaS Middleware Implementation or integration platform’s case studies. You should evaluate which iPaaS or integration platform is used by reputed organizations, organizations in your business domain, and organizations with similar or the same type of applications you have.
- Product Roadmap- It’s always a good idea to research the product roadmap plan. There are many iPaaS Middleware Implementation products on the market, and you should ensure that the product you choose has a strong future roadmap.
Step 3: Proof of Concept (PoC)
You would have very few maybe 2-3 shortlisted iPaaS or integration platforms at this stage. This is the right time to go for a Proof of Concept (PoC) on the shortlisted platform, which aligns with your critical use cases. During the PoC, you should look deeper into the integration platform capabilities. You should know which platform is easier to implement and which most supports your needs. A PoC on the same use cases on shortlisted platforms is always good. It will help in unbiased comparison and making the right decision.
Step 4: Get a Recommendation from System Integrator
Get in touch with a product agnostic System Implementation Partner like Jade Global for unbiased recommendations. Ask for their case studies and expertise on various iPaaS Middleware Implementations.
About Jade Global’s Integration Practice
Jade Global, a Certified System Integrator Partner of leading Integration Platforms, specializes in implementing enterprise-grade solutions for all integration needs, including A2A, EAI, EDI, B2B, ETL, MDM, and API management. We specialize in implementing multiple middleware systems such as Boomi, Jitterbit, MuleSoft, Oracle Integration Cloud, Oracle SOA, TIBCO, and others per the organization’s IT and business needs. Our Integration Practice provides the flexibility to integrate Cloud and on-premises applications, giving a faster time-to-value with increased efficiency and simplified reporting.
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