IPaaS: Integration Platform as a Service. Buzzword or has real substance?
As enterprises have started using various cloud services such as Salesforce.com, Google apps, etc a new problem has crept up in the form of “cloud silos”. This has complicated the integration of various components in the enterprise with each other. Thus, a new set of services are emerging that focuses on the integration aspect. IpaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) lets you connect to your cloud services and the enterprise applications in a single interface.
Gartner research coined this term last year and it has been a source of a lot of discussion in the community, lately. Is it yet another buzzword acronym that lacks little meaning, or does it have real substance?
Gartner defines iPaaS as ‘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.’
It has also recently said that by 2016, 35% of enterprises will be using iPaaS in some or the other. While it is right to be skeptical on their numbers, it must be realized that for a lot of enterprises the pain is real. Some of them feel they don’t have a real control over their data, platform and applications any more.
Currently the cloud software stack has three main layers:
Software as a Service (SaaS) that manages your processes and user interactions. eg. Salesforce.com
Platform as a Service (PaaS) the middleware that provides the application infrastructure (heroku, Google app engine) etc.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) the hardware layer that provides virtualization and access to the computing resources.
The iPaaS is designed to act in the middle and help you connect to a number of services across the layers. Gartner research believes that IpaaS will start the trend in 2012 with it replacing a whole motley of integration middleware that are used currently. iPaaS will help the cloud service providers convince their consumers better with a good integration story.
While the concept is good, it adds yet another layer of complexity to cloud computing. For a lot of businesses, this added complexity of a soup of acronyms keep them from moving on to the cloud completely. Recently, Hollis Tibbets wrote a good piece on Ipaas skepticism and there are many in the industry who share the confusion.
To sum it up, I believe IpaaS is a good concept that might be beneficial in theory. However, the existing iPaaS have not matured enough to prove the concept right.
By Balaji Viswanathan