The Top Four Criteria for selecting an iPaaS Vendor
Integration as a strategic discipline has become increasingly important to businesses as they interact with their customers, employees and partners across multiple channels and touchpoints. Enterprise application integration is made more efficient by the selection of an integration platform as a service (iPaaS). But as the number of iPaaS vendors grows, and the complexity iPaaS solutions increases, businesses have to consider a growing number of factors before considering the right vendor for them.
There are four major criteria that organizations must consider when evaluating iPaaS vendors:
- Developer DIY capability
- Governed access
The principle of reusable assets, emerging from a service-oriented perspective, is one that can increase developer capability and speed delivery time. Instead of having to create a custom connectivity solution every time a developer wants to integrate an application, reusable connectors, templates, and assets make that job incredibly simple. In addition, a reusable asset can be assessed and governed by the central IT organization more easily. The ideal iPaaS solution should ensure the provision and documentation of reusable business assets.
An example of this kind of reusable technology asset would be an API for accessing product information in SAP (and/or other systems). This API offers a self-serve developer portal to gain access to the API and make calls against it. It’s governed and managed through policies that the central IT set and evolve. The value of systems access through the API is that IT can see which applications are using the data, how frequently it’s being used and throttle traffic flow if the API is being accessed a lot. Furthermore, the API can be incorporated into an integration template to connect the data to another system, such as an analytics platform. This means a Business Analyst could consume the data from the API into a data warehouse or reporting engine without having to write code.
Developer DIY capability
With demands on the central IT organization coming from every part of the business, there’s no way central IT can serve all of the requests in an efficient and timely way. Developing a DIY developer culture is a way to scale IT’s capability without the need to add additional resources. An iPaaS vendor needs to be able to offer this capability in order to accommodate the growing technology needs of the modern business.
In order to develop a DIY culture, the organization must have the following aspects:
- Training and skill building
Like anyone else, developers want opportunities to learn and grow. Providing assets that will allow them to build and innovate, allowing them the freedom to do interesting things within a managed and governed infrastructure.
Custom code for integrations takes time and effort, time which could be better spent developing new things. Good iPaaS vendors offer simple tooling that improves efficiency and reduces the burden on developers.
- Access to building blocks
Innovation can’t happen if developers have to rebuild infrastructure each time they want to create something new. Reusable building blocks, as outlined above, make creating a foundation for a new product or service easy and fast, leaving more time for creating new and interesting products and services.
As we’ll see, enabling a DIY culture with reusable assets has to happened within a managed structure. Making best practices discoverable and accessible by anyone in the organization saves time in the long run by encouraging adoption at the beginning of the development process.
As you open up your systems to make both reuse and self-service easy, governance becomes paramount. You don’t want to have developers building new assets without oversight simply because they have the capability. Central IT needs to limit access to your systems to the right people and ensure that data is being used in the right way. In the best case scenario, security, access management and governance should all be built into the platform to avoid additional complexity.
As we’ve seen with our previous example, an API that allows access to systems and data provides a manageable, scalable way for central IT to monitor the use that data, which can be governed with policies. In fact, the preferred approach to governance is a policy-based. This model’s advantages are that you can put policies on your APIs immediately, it gives a lot of flexibility to open things up in one way, and as your requirements change, you can change the policy easily.
These policies enable other ways to govern access to systems via APIs. You can set alerts and notifications to let you know when there are too many calls on an API, for example, or when it’s not being used in an appropriate way. APIs can help authenticate the identity of the user, making sure the right people have access. And finally, a policy-based governance model implemented with APIs allows flexibility in offering access to systems and data for certain business groups. Access can be given, removed, limited, or expanded to different business groups in different geographies, functional groups, or any other criteria the organization cares to recognize. This has proved advantageous for businesses that want to expand globally and offer different access to systems based on local needs. Simply changing the governance policies on APIs make implementing these policies very efficient.
Due to multiple requirements for speed, reliability, and compliance, businesses have a multi-faceted array of needs when it comes to where their integration platforms are hosted. For some businesses, regulatory environments necessitate a fully on-premises solutions, others need hybrid solutions or a private cloud, and still others want to host their platforms entirely in the cloud. Anypoint Platform can accommodate of these needs, but our recommendation is a cloud-hosted iPaaS solution. The advantages of a fully cloud-hosted solution are:
Cloud-based iPaaS vendors should offer a speedy time-to-live epxerience. Cloud-hosted integration platforms can be set up and made operational in a fraction of the time that on-premises solutions can.
- Cloud cadence of new product capabilities
Cloud-based iPaaS vendors should update their products on a regular basis; ours is updated monthly, and one of its key advantages is that keeping it updated decreases IT maintenance burden. Since it’s fully hosted and managed by us, it doesn’t need to worry about maintaining an infrastructure, installing updates, or applying patches.
- Zero-touch, automatic updates
Going hand in hand with the frequency of getting updates and new capabilities is the ease of getting the benefits of those updates. Users can take advantage of new updates soon as they are released, often with no effort at all on their part.
Our cloud infrastructure is hosted in numerous locations all around the globe, which offers not only global redundancy, ensuring no downtime (if one data center goes down for some reason, another nearby is ready to take its place) but also rapid disaster recovery. For example, with CloudHub, our PaaS solution, if all zones are down in a particular region, you can receive an alert to deploy in any of our regions. This is a simple drop-down and click process, which allows to be functioning again in less than 5 minutes.
Anypoint Platform’s iPaaS Solution
Established enterprises with strict internal security compliance processes have adopted MuleSoft’s fully hosted, fully managed Anypoint Platform to transform their businesses with the same agility and innovation of startups.
Customers can choose to deploy applications to the CloudHub worker cloud, an on-premises runtime or a combination and manage them all from a single interface in the cloud.
We update our cloud software on a monthly basis with the latest enhancements and new product features. With Anypoint Platform - iPaaS edition you get these benefits immediately, without updates to the environment.
Built on globally distributed architecture for resiliency with data centers across North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, our iPaaS edition delivers 99.99% uptime and out of the box compliance with regional regulatory requirements. If you had on-premises API Gateway, in the event of a cloud service interruption, your on-premises API Gateway remains fully operational and your messages continue processing securely. Our on-prem API gateway instances do not require an active connection to our cloud to remain operational.
Security is a first class citizen at MuleSoft, and we have the certifications and 3rd party audits to prove it. When an API Gateway or Mule is deployed on-premises and managed by our iPaaS Anypoint Runtime Manager, the API message payload does not leave your data center. There is no inspection, storage, or direct interaction between our iPaaS Runtime Manager and message payloads. API Gateway or Mule only sends metadata via SSL to our cloud solution for monitoring, logging and analytics. We’ve done this to ensure unauthorized parties cannot read data or initiate unauthorized actions.
Discover Anypoint Platform today and find out how you can connect what you want, when you want, whether it’s on-premises or in the cloud.