by Dibyendu Datta | May 23, 2024

What is Integration Platform as a Service (iPaas)? All You Need to Know to Integrate Your Applications


Businesses are increasingly reliant on a multitude of applications to drive their operations. However, these applications often operate in silos, leading to disconnected data, internal friction, and disjointed experiences. This disconnection can pose significant challenges, such as data discrepancies, errors, and unnecessary expenses. Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) solutions, can be game changers in addressing these challenges.

In this article, we’ll uncover the iPaaS solution and explore its role in streamlining connections between various software applications. We'll explore how iPaaS empowers businesses to automate processes and seamlessly exchange data across diverse platforms. Moreover, we'll also discuss potential challenges and alternative solutions, empowering users to make informed decisions in application integration.

Application integration is an essential component in navigating today’s siloed digital landscape. It involves linking applications, data sources, processes, and systems, whether they’re homegrown or commercially licensed, and whether they run in an on-premises data center, at a remote site, or in the cloud.

What is iPaaS?

Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) is a self-service cloud-based solution that standardizes how applications are integrated, simplifying integration across on-premises and cloud environments. It is essentially a cloud-based, API-driven middleware that can be used to integrate any two or more SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions, cloud applications, data sources, or even legacy systems, from one central hub.

iPaaS enhances business efficiency by automating workflows and enabling real-time updates throughout the organization’s application estate and ecosystem. It offers pre-built connectors to expedite the creation of integration flows and define interactions in multi-tenant environments. This results in streamlined business process management and improved data accuracy.

5 Core features of iPaaS software

Every iPaaS solution should have the following five core functionalities:

  • Integration development through APIs: Enterprise iPaaS solutions must support integration development through APIs and software development kits (SDKs). Some solutions come with pre-built APIs for popular public clouds, business apps, communication services, etc.
  • Centralized governance: This feature allows organizations to manage and control all integrations from a single platform. It includes capabilities like monitoring, auditing, and handling exceptions, ensuring that all integrations comply with the organization’s policies and standards.
  • Unstructured data ingestion capabilities: iPaaS solutions should be able to handle both structured and unstructured data. This means they should be capable of ingesting, processing, and integrating data from various sources, regardless of the data format.
  • Marketplace: Some iPaaS solutions provide a marketplace where users can find and use pre-built integrations, connectors, and templates. This can significantly speed up the integration process and reduce the need for custom development.
  • Flexible deployment: iPaaS solutions should offer flexibility in terms of deployment. They should support different deployment models, including on-premises, cloud, or hybrid, allowing organizations to choose the model that best fits their needs.

Types of iPaaS solutions

Different types of iPaaS solutions cater to various needs and expectations, reflecting a complex business and cloud landscape. Here are some of them:

  • Cloud-based iPaaS: These are iPaaS solutions that operate in the cloud. They provide a unified solution to customers by operating a set of automated tools and facilitating the integration of data, processes, and applications.
  • Enterprise service bus (ESB) & service-oriented architecture (SOA) infrastructure: ESB is an integration middleware with a centralized architecture, while iPaaS is lightweight and cloud-based. Together with SOA, they standardize how applications are integrated, especially simplifying the process across on-premise and cloud environments.
  • E-commerce & B2B integration: Some iPaaS solutions are specifically designed for e-commerce and B2B integrations. They help businesses integrate their e-commerce platforms with other business applications, facilitating seamless data flow and improving business efficiency.

How does Integration Platform as a Service work?

Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) is a cloud-based platform that enables organizations to build integrations between applications, processes, and data, whether in the cloud or on-premises. Here’s how it works:

  • Data integration: iPaaS allows you to integrate data consistently from multiple sources and applications. It abstracts underlying data integration complexities, enabling non-technical users to meet integration needs without requiring complex software development or additional middleware technologies.
  • Automated workflows: iPaaS helps automate workflows between systems, streamlining operations, and reducing manual processes. This leads to real-time data synchronization between connected systems, ensuring that analytics always have up-to-date information.
  • Speed at scale: iPaaS platforms come with prebuilt connectors and templates that support faster deployment of complex integrations at scale. You can accommodate growing data volumes or more integrations without significant infrastructural adjustments.
  • Secure and simplified integration: iPaaS reduces the complexity traditionally associated with integration tasks. It offers features like data governance, encryption, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and adherence to regulatory standards.

Real-life examples and use cases

  • Sales and marketing integration: A sales rep may receive a new lead from a specific type of company. Using iPaaS, the rep can automatically add the lead to a specific marketing campaign in a marketing automation tool like Marketo.
  • E-commerce and inventory management: An e-commerce platform can be integrated with an inventory management system. When a customer places an order, the inventory system is automatically updated, ensuring accurate stock counts.
  • Customer support and CRM integration: When a customer submits a support ticket, the details can be automatically added to the customer’s record in a CRM like Salesforce. This ensures that customer support has all the necessary information at their fingertips.

5 Benefits of iPaaS

Here are the five benefits that can be garnered by organizations using iPaaS solutions:

  • Streamlined workflows and process automation: iPaaS helps automate workflows between systems, streamlining operations, and reducing manual processes. It creates workflows to streamline and automate manual processes and repetitive tasks, enabling users to focus on higher-value work.
  • Improved data integration for decision-making: iPaaS allows for consistent integration of data from multiple applications into a single solution. This eliminates data silos and promotes a comprehensive view of business data, improving decision-making.
  • Enhanced connectivity and business intelligence: iPaaS provides an intuitive and modular approach to seamlessly integrating and connecting all your applications and data, regardless of where they reside. This enhances connectivity and provides a unified visibility, promoting better business intelligence.
  • Increased operational efficiency and reduced costs: iPaaS reduces the need for in-house integration specialists or bespoke solutions, thereby reducing costs. It also accelerates time-to-value as teams can get started right away with iPaaS—they simply subscribe and start integrating.
  • Scalability and flexibility for future growth: iPaaS platforms come with prebuilt connectors and templates that support faster deployment of complex integrations at scale. This allows for scalability and flexibility to accommodate growing data volumes or more integrations without significant infrastructural adjustments.

4 Challenges of iPaaS implementation

Every cloud solution comes with its own set of implementation challenges and iPaaS is not devoid of them. Here are four challenges that hinder iPaaS implementation:

  • Choosing the right iPaaS platform based on specific needs: Selecting the right iPaaS solution that aligns with the specific needs of a business can be challenging. The platform should support all types of data integration requirements and work in sync with other technologies.
  • Security concerns and data integration complexities: Security is a significant concern when integrating data from multiple sources and applications. Ensuring that data is consistent across applications, even when using standards-based protocols, is not always straightforward.
  • User adoption and training requirements: iPaaS solutions must be accessible, functional, and user-friendly. However, training and hiring skilled professionals can create a burden for a company. Adequate data authorizations must be set in place to ensure that data is only accessible to those who are authorized to use it.
  • Integration costs and ongoing maintenance: While iPaaS reduces the need for in-house integration specialists, it does come with its costs. These include the costs of the platform itself, as well as ongoing maintenance costs.

The CData difference

CData Arc is a modern B2B integration solution that is iPaaS-adjacent offering that accelerates digital transformation, promoting efficiency and innovation in businesses. It empowers organizations to optimize their operations and generate value through smooth integration.

With CData Arc, you get a suite of connectors that streamline integration across on-premises and cloud-based systems, including services, applications, and data sources. Certified for major MFT standards like AS2, AS4, OFTP, SFTP, and more, it provides the industry's largest catalog of connectivity solutions, giving you access to 85+ applications and 250+ data sources – internal, external, and SaaS platforms, ensuring adaptability to diverse integration requirements. Its intuitive visual drag-and-drop interface enables users to automate workflows, enhance operations, and harness analytics without the need for specialized B2B developer skills, reducing the reliance on custom coding and ongoing maintenance.

As always, our support team is ready to answer any questions. Have you joined the CData Community? Ask questions, get answers, and share your knowledge in CData connectivity tools. Join us!