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Although iPaaS packages are appealing to organizations doing work in the cloud, there are some aspects to the technology, such as the fact that iPaaS doesn't handle large volumes of transactions well, that evaluators need to consider.
In the not too distant past, iPaaS was deemed as merely a decent approach for Software as a Service (SaaS) integrations in scenarios where businesses were looking to solve problems associated with traditional integration methods, according to Ovum Senior Analyst Saurabh Sharma. That all changed, he said, when the packaged integration business model arrived.
"The emergence of the packaged integration business model significantly contributed to the evolution of iPaaS from its infancy to being a main approach to SaaS integration," said Sharma.
A decade ago the cloud wasn't on people's radar, but vendors have matured in the past seven years, according to cloud service broker Appirio's CTO, Glenn Weinstein. He notes there has been a push for cloud-based over on-premises integration platforms.
Has the state of iPaaS adoption matured?
According to experts, iPaaS has a ways to go before it will be considered the go-to solution for application integration. "SOA remains the most robust integration approach and is well-suited to the needs of a wide range of complex integration scenarios, including on-premises, B2B and cloud-service integration," said Sharma.
Tom Nollepresident of strategic consulting firm CIMI Corp
Tom Nolle, president of strategic consulting firm CIMI Corp., agrees, noting he's seen the most uptick in hybrid cloud applications. "What people are saying is hybridization would create a noticeable utility for iPaaS," said Nolle.
There are certain scenarios, mainly public cloud applications, where Nolle believes iPaaS can play a part. Currently, though, Nolle said for many businesses cloud computing equates to simply hosting server consolidation.
"Given that there is no integration to support, a pure public cloud environment today is not likely to get much mileage out of any integration strategy because they are not integrating much," said Nolle. "As you start to move into deploying multi-component applications in a public cloud, then you are starting to generate integration issues, and that is when you can start to look at iPaaS."
Weinstein said there are several reasons why adoption is still in the early stages, including:
- Outdated legacy infrastructures;
- iPaas' inability to handle large transaction volumes; and
- Enterprises' lack of awareness that integration can be done in the cloud.
"We are not at the same level of awareness in integrating Platform as a Service as we are in cloud-based CRM [customer relationship management] or cloud-based HR," said Weinstein. "It's something that is still viewed as something only leading-edge adopters are dabbling with right now."
While iPaaS adoption may still be in its infancy, there are organizations interested in implementing the technology. Does that mean enterprise architects need to brush up on their skills?
"IPaaS from a technology standpoint is not all that different from on-premises-based integration, at least in terms of the skills and the technologies consultants need to know," said Weinstein. "You are still dealing with a primarily Web services-based environment."
Overcoming iPaaS obstacles
Experts say potential iPaaS pitfalls include:
- Trouble migrating integration from traditional infrastructures;
- Thinking iPaaS can handle larger transactions at a faster pace than possible;
- Going to the cloud "just to be there"; and
- Forgetting iPaaS is part of application lifecycle management (ALM).
Know what you are doing! Assuming an iPaaS can handle more than it can is an obstacle enterprise architects may face, according to Weinstein, who said experience with the service model is key to using the technology to its fullest effect.
"The fact that cloud-based integration platforms are outside the firewall can require early planning upfront with the customer security team, said Weinstein. "For some companies it can be a different pattern than they are used to. In the case of iPaaS, you typically have transactions that are initiated from inside the firewall."
It's also important to be in the mindset in terms of the technology being used. Nolle said if architects want trouble-free iPaaS use, they are going to have to rethink ALM in terms of the cloud.
"Even though iPaaS is rightfully a part of ALM, iPaaS as it's being used today is probably used too often as a Band-Aid for some specific problem rather than an element in the reorientation of ALM practices for the cloud," said Nolle.
Whether an organization has an immediate plan to use iPaaS or it's one of many solutions in consideration, the model is one architects should be aware of if they plan to do any integration with the cloud.
Maxine Giza is the associate site editor for SearchSOA.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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