How many different business applications do you switch between during your work day? How often do you deal with bad data in any one of your applications? How much time do you spend trying to move data from one application to another?
All growing organizations face of the challenge of connecting their business applications. There’s an application for just about everything now. The problem is that each application holds important data for your organization and must be shared among the rest of them. How do you ensure that data is quickly shared among applications and teams? How do you govern the quality of your data?
Recognizing this fundamental need of organizations across all industries, Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) vendors began to deliver cloud-based integration solutions for business users. These platforms provide a single location to connect business applications and automate the movement of data between them.
Let’s look at what an iPaaS solution is and its benefits for your business.
What is iPaaS?
According to Gartner, 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.
In other words, an iPaaS is a set of integration tools that connect and automate data movement between on-premise and cloud-based applications for users. iPaaS solutions are most often used by B2B enterprises that need to share data among multiple business applications. An iPaaS platform provides a single place to build, release, and monitor data workflows between your select applications.
iPaaS vs SaaS
You’ve probably heard the term SaaS (Software as a Service) before. A SaaS solutions is a subscription-based software that is accessed via the internet. You do not need to install and maintain the software locally. Your subscription covers access to the software, software maintenance and updates, and customer support. SaaS applications are cost-effective solutions in just about any industry whether its eCommerce, CRM, finance, or marketing.
iPaaS applications, on the other hand, are c loud-based solutions focused on connecting different applications, whether cloud-based or not, to share data among them. iPaaS allows businesses to unify their systems and control how data moves from one application to the next.
Why Use an iPaaS Solution
Being able to act on your data is crucial to your business’s success. Owners can no longer afford to have data tied up in disconnected applications. Without integration of your applications, uses are stuck manually moving data between platforms. Manual data entry is too slow of a process and can lead to costly mistakes from a number of reasons.
The challenge is learning to connect your systems. It requires intimate knowledge of how each application reads and accepts data to make applications “talk” to one another. As you move data between them, you must understand how to transform the data so it can be accepted by another application. How data is represented in a field in your source application doesn’t always correspond to a similar field in its destination application.
iPaaS solutions deploy tools for users to create integration workflows to move data from one application to the next to overcome the challenge described above. Most solutions allow users to leverage pre-built connectors, business rules, and data mapping to help facilitate automating the movement of your data.
Before iPaaS solutions, users were often left to custom code a connection between their applications. Custom code is often a large undertaking that doesn’t pan out well over time. Users are usually left with a solution that isn’t flexible enough to support new needs and too hard and costly to maintain over time.
Benefits of Using an iPaaS
These are some of the main reasons that users adopt iPaaS solutions for their organizations.
An iPaaS solutions provides a single place to build, release, and monitor your data workflows between applications. No matter how many systems you need to connect, you can have a single place to manage your data.
Single Source of Truth
Since all data passes through a central location, this ensures companies have a single source of truth for their data. Accurate data is passed from one application to the next. Users don’t have to worry about losing data due to system crashes.
Ability to Integrate Legacy and Modern Business Applications
Despite more applications being deployed to the cloud, many B2B companies still use legacy or on-premise systems. These systems can be too costly to replace. iPaaS solutions allows B2B companies to connect their older technology with new.
Total Cost of Ownership
Compared to custom-built solution, iPaaS solutions can have significantly lower total cost of ownership for organizations. As a cloud-based solution, your iPaaS application runs on your vendor’s servers. This means users are not responsible for maintaining their own infrastructure, which is usually more cost-effective for them. iPaaS providers are able to pass lower infrastructure costs to users because they are hosting multiple user environments on their servers to help scale costs relative to resources.
Like SaaS software, iPaaS vendors typically license their software on a subscription basis. You pay a monthly fee based on certain criteria such as data volume, number of workflows, or applications connected. In return, users get access to the software, platform maintenance, and customer support.
Security and Maintenance
Just like SaaS applications, iPaaS providers take care of all security, maintenance, hosting and deployment of the software. It’s not the responsibility of the user to worry about maintaining the infrastructure. This is an important distinction, especially for smaller companies, who don’t want to manage IT resources themselves to maintain a complex integration solution.
Choosing an iPaaS Vendor
More organizations are turning to iPaaS vendors as a viable way to connect their applications and ensure data quality across the organization. There’s a multitude of iPaaS vendors to research and determine if they’re the right for your business. We encourage you to check out the nChannel Integration Platform.