integration as a service (IaaS)
What is integration as a service (IaaS)?
Integration as a service, sometimes referred to as IaaS, is a cloud-based delivery model that strives to connect on-premises data with data located in cloud-based applications. This paradigm facilitates real-time exchange of data and programs among enterprise-wide systems and trading partners.
In business-to-business (B2B) integration, integration as a service allows partners to develop, maintain and manage custom integrations for diverse systems and applications in the cloud. In this way, the enterprise can more effectively pursue process innovations without the need to constantly modify and maintain diverse and often incompatible application programs.
IaaS vendors will typically provide infrastructure, such as servers, along with middleware. Vendors will also commonly supply tools for customers to build, test, deploy and manage cloud applications. Payment is typically available in the form of a pay-as-you-go model, so users can readily scale their environments up or down. Most vendors will also share a multi-tenant setup.
Customers of integration as a service will typically interact with their data via a web-based interface, which interconnects back-end data, systems and files with data, applications and systems in other locations. IaaS also removes system and data interdependencies through this process.
Uses of integration as a service
This service model is commonly used in small and medium-sized businesses since it facilitates low-cost, efficient and reliable B2B integration. It allows enterprises of modest size to spend more of their valuable resources on the products and services that directly benefit customers. In addition, the service model can streamline infrastructure management by minimizing the amount of unnecessary or redundant time and energy spent on it.
Organizations can utilize integration as a service for the following:
- Storing data, setting up backups and performing recovery.
- Running and hosting websites and web applications.
- Developing and testing applications through the tools some providers may offer.
- Facilitating data analytics, which aids organizations in managing large data sets.
As an example of the model in use, The New York Times archived much of its historical data in less than two days using an IaaS system developed by Amazon called Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). Without the assistance of EC2 or a similar IaaS platform, the same process would probably have taken weeks.
Benefits of integration as a service
An organization that hosts an integration-as-a-service platform can benefit from the following:
- A consistent architecture that is created through connecting applications and resources, both in cloud and on premises, in one interface.
- Reduced cost by allowing an organization to avoid management of an on-premises data center.
- The data center infrastructure is handled by the service provider for the organization.
- The organization does not have to worry about software or hardware upgrades since the service provider handles both.
- Startups do not have to pay the initial cost of buying, building and managing an extensive infrastructure.
- Users pay for what they use.
- Services are scalable.
- Some IaaS providers will support 24/7/365 monitoring.
Although similar in name, integration as a service is not the same as integration platform as a service (iPaaS). IPaaS vendors supply a platform for integration and customers build the integrations on their own. With integration as a service, the vendors manage and maintain the integration.
IaaS providers include platforms such as Dell Boomi AtomSphere, MuleSoft and Amazon EC2.
Boomi AtomSphere Platform is a multi-tenant cloud integration platform that can integrate cloud, on-premises and SaaS applications. AtomSphere allows users to create Atoms, which are cloud-based integration processes that can transfer data between cloud and on-premises applications.
MuleSoft is another cloud integration platform for B2B applications. MuleSoft provides a tool set which includes an API that enables organizations to model, build and deploy applications, APIs and services.
Amazon EC2 is a web-based service that allows organizations to run applications in the AWS public cloud. EC2 provides users with tools such as VMs and compute capacities for IT workloads. This is the service used in the earlier example from The New York Times.