iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) technology is a powerful, easy-to-use solution for managing, governing, and integrating cloud-based applications and services. Beyond this simple definition, however, the term “iPaaS” can mean a lot of different things – depending on how your organization deploys it.
To help you understand the full length and breadth of this technology, we’ve compiled this complete list of iPaaS use cases:
- Automatic API Generation
- Cloud-to-Cloud and Hybrid-Cloud Integration
- Business-to-Business (B2B) Data Integration
- Business Intelligence and Machine Learning Data Integration
- IoT Network Integration
- Microservices Integration
You may find some overlap in this list; but ultimately, the best way to understand how an iPaaS can help your organization is to view it from as many use case examples as possible. Let’s start with the most exciting iPaaS use case first: Automatic API Creation.
1. Automatic API Generation
APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are the “backend plumbing” that integrates data between your business applications. APIs connect your CRM software with your accounting, inventory, data storage, HR, and other applications. They also connect your apps with those of your partners, vendors, and clients.
Hand-coding an API the traditional way is a tedious and time-consuming process, taking about 34 business days for an in-house engineer to complete. It’s also expensive. According to developer Gerard Lutterop, the cost of building a single outgoing API is about $15,000-$25,000. For a more comprehensive estimate, see DreamFactory’s API Calculator.
Modern iPaaS solutions dramatically simplify the API creation process. Even better, the most advanced iPaaS solutions (like the DreamFactory iPaaS) offer a no-code API generation interface along with a large library of pre-built connectors. This empowers non-tech-savvy users to build, configure, and publish APIs – just by pointing and clicking.
Here’s the API creation workflow looks like with DreamFactory:
- Generate the API
- Create an RBAC (Role-Based Access Control) to granularly define what a client can do with the API
- Assign the RBAC to a generated API key
- Set restrictions on resource usage by assigning an access volume limit (optional)
In many cases, you can set up an API in just minutes. If a native API connector isn’t available, DreamFactory includes a scripting editor that supports PHP, Python, and NodeJS. This lets advanced users develop completely new APIs that incorporate features like RBAC, API limits, and more.
Using an iPaaS for API creation offers the following benefits:
- Unburdens your IT department
- Saves on outsourcing costs
- Speeds up your time to market
- Increases agility when onboarding new data, services, partners, applications, and technology
2. Cloud-to-Cloud and Hybrid-Cloud Integration
According to Gartner, “Through 2020, integration work will account for 50% of the time and cost of building a digital platform.” Considering the mass migration of enterprises to cloud services, much of this integration work currently involves the building of cloud-to-cloud and on-premises-to-cloud connections.
Traditionally, IT departments relied on Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) technology for app connections. However, ESBs are not optimized for cloud-to-cloud and hybrid-cloud app integrations. They’re better for managing complicated on-premises business systems and legacy messaging protocols.
You can use a modern ‘hybrid-ESB’ for ground-to-cloud and cloud-to-cloud integrations; but compared to an iPaaS, setting up and managing hybrid-ESB connections is inefficient, time-consuming, and requires extensive skills and training.
Here are the two main scenarios where an iPaaS benefits cloud-to-cloud and hybrid-cloud integrations:
- Large enterprises with complex, legacy infrastructures: For large enterprises that want to incorporate new cloud strategies, an iPaaS will complement your existing ESB infrastructure – empowering you to connect on-premises, and firewall-protected platforms to cloud-based solutions more efficiently.
- Businesses with cloud-based infrastructures: For simpler infrastructures that don’t have to deal with antiquated messaging protocols or on-prem systems, an iPaaS can serve as the backbone to your entire, cloud-based architecture.
3. Business-to-Business (B2B) Data Connections
In addition to establishing connections between their own business apps, organizations need to connect their systems to those of their partners, customers, suppliers, and service vendors. The faster you can establish these connections, the faster you can onboard new partners, stay competitive, and grow your business.
Traditional business-to-business (B2B) integration tools, like Value Added Networks (VANs), are expensive and require time, work, and specialized experience to set up. Moreover, the growing risk of supply chain data breaches makes the security of third-party B2B data connections a paramount concern.
As a ‘horizontally flexible’ integration solution, iPaaS supports fluid, seamless, fast, and secure integrations between you, your supply chain, and third parties. This reduces the time, work, and cost burden when onboarding new partners – in many cases, distilling the job down to a point-and-click task that anyone can do in minutes.
4. Business Intelligence and Machine Learning Data Integration
The big data analytics market is expected to reach $49 billion by 2020 and grow to $103 billion by 2023 (according to research by Wikibon). To stay competitive in this climate, enterprises need to deploy business intelligence and other analytics technology that requires real-time, high-volume integrations. Upgrading a legacy business system to operate at this capacity is difficult, but iPaaS solutions are meeting these demands with new transformation services for big data integration.
An iPaaS that supports hybrid, ground-to-cloud connections offers an excellent solution for upgrading an on-prem BI system to the world of real-time, big data, AI, and machine learning analytics. Also, if you need to blend data and piping it into Snowflake – or pump data from disparate sources into Amazon QuickSight – some iPaaS offer the scaling and processing abilities to handle such tasks.
5. IoT Integration
According to Statistica: “The total installed base of Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices is projected to amount to 75.44 billion worldwide by 2025, a five-fold increase in ten years. The IoT, enabled by the already ubiquitous Internet technology, is the next major step in delivering the Internet’s promise of making the world a connected place.”
That being said, the complexity of building an IoT network presents significant challenges that surprise most integration leaders – due to the large data volumes, and the number of devices and APIs an IoT network requires. Fortunately, iPaaS technology is well-suited for surmounting these challenges.
To illustrate this, imagine you’re a transportation company with tens of thousands of trucks. You want to upgrade your truck maintenance strategy, which bases repairs on the age of parts and mileage traveled. The new strategy uses IoT sensors on each truck to provide real-time data on the status of parts like brakes, engines, transmissions, etc. From an integration perspective, here’s what this IoT network requires:
- IoT Sensor Network: A network of IoT sensors connected to different truck parts.
- IoT Sensor Data API: An API that receives and aggregates the real-time performance data from the IoT endpoints.
- Cloud-Based IoT App Platform: A cloud-based IoT app platform that integrates with the ‘IoT Sensor Data API.’
- API for ERP Connection: An API that integrates the ‘Cloud-based IoT App platform’ with your legacy, on-prem ERP system. Integrating with your existing ERP system is preferred because it already has a process in place for ordering maintenance jobs like “rebuild transmission,” “change oil,” etc.
Whether you’re integrating thousands of IoT endpoints on a fleet of trucks – or millions of IoT devices in the hands of your customers – your iPaaS offers the high-speed cloud servers and horizontal scalability that an IoT network needs. Moreover, the automatic API generation capabilities of an iPaaS like DreamFactory will help you rapidly create the different APIs for this network.
6. Microservices Integration
A Microservices Application architecture breaks up the “monolith” structure of legacy business applications. Compared to having one giant application – where upgrading a single feature requires a complete redesign – a microservices architecture eliminates dependencies, making it easy to add, delete, or upgrade features.
Here’s how Kong Yang, the “Head Geek” at SolarWinds, describes microservices:
“Microservices are a method of developing software applications, which are made up of independently deployable, modular services. Each microservice runs a unique process and communicates through a well-defined, lightweight mechanism, such as a container, to serve a business goal.”
An iPaaS offers pre-built, reusable connectors that empower developers to rapidly generate and publish APIs to support a microservices architecture. This empowers business users to plug different microservices together to create specialized applications without outsourcing to developers, and it allows developers to focus on programming the unique solutions a specific use case requires.
Try the DreamFactory iPaaS Now
Integrating enterprise applications doesn’t have to be a complex, time-consuming task for your IT department or third-party developers. With the DreamFactory iPaaS, anyone can build and publish APIs, integrate cloud services, connect SaaS solutions, and establish data security compliant B2B and supply chain integrations.
To learn about the unique capabilities of DreamFactory, schedule a call with a DreamFactory integration expert now.
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