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Businesses are feeling the ever-increasing pressure to deliver on digital experiences for their customers. Whether that’s financial services providing enhanced digital payments, healthcare organizations sharing critical data across systems, or retailers providing omnichannel shopping experiences — digital capabilities are becoming the norm. 

Digital-first enterprises all have one thing in common: They have easy access to their data. Not surprisingly, this is a major issue for those still working to catch up. According to the 2021 Connectivity Benchmark Report, data silos continue to be a challenge year-over-year for 90% of organizations. 

This is where integration platform as a service (iPaaS) comes in to make data integration a breeze. This blog will provide a definition of iPaaS, the factors that make up an iPaaS solution, and how to choose the right one for your organization.

What is an iPaaS?

Software has been evolving at a rapid rate, which has brought about many phases of software architectures overtime. First there was Software as a Service (SaaS), then Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and eventually Platform as a Service (PaaS), until iPaaS emerged as an IT infrastructure for implementing on-demand cloud services.

iPaaS solutions enable organziations to build and deploy integrations within the cloud and between the cloud and the enterprise. With so many organizations using both cloud, legacy, and on-premises technology, iPaaS enables connectivity between all of these various systems so no technology is left out when it comes to data integration. Additionally, iPaaS users can develop and deploy integration flows between these systems without installing or managing any hardware or middleware.

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3 characteristics of a modern iPaaS

In this section, I’ll outline three of the most essential qualities that an iPaaS solution should have:

#1: Configurable connectivity 

To generate immediate value, an iPaaS needs to have configurable connectivity — such as a marketplace for pre-built connectors, templates, and APIs — that allows your organization to share and reuse assets quickly and easily. Configurable connectivity enables your organization to select “best-of-breed” cloud apps and easily add new capabilities to your ecosystem. 

#2: Extensibility 

Your iPaaS should be robust, agile, and able to extend as your business grows. The platform should have the capability to enable nonspecialist integrators to use low-code, drag and drop UI to address a broad range of use cases. Additionally, it should also offer specialists a fully-powered integrated development environment (IDE) to solve strategic integration problems. 

#3: Unified platform 

Core integration — connecting applications to other applications — is at the center of iPaaS. Often, organizations turn to one or more approaches from migrating existing on-premises applications and data to the cloud, to integrating SaaS applications with on-premises applications and data, to connecting cloud-native applications across on-premises and cloud environments. 

With API management and iPaaS in a single, unified platform, organizations can implement the above use cases, expose and monitor access to key systems of record through APIs, and reuse assets without the risk of losing existing investments. 

Choosing an iPaaS solution 

One of the common mistakes that enterprises make in an attempt to solve their data silo challenges is looking only at short-term solutions rather than thinking about integration as a strategic initiative. Investing in the right technology at the right time is critical for continued success over the long term. 

While it’s never too early to begin thinking about solutions and strategies that will help you grow and scale with your business, it’s important to choose technologies to solve immediate problems where you can realize immediate value. This is why a solution that excels in both iPaaS and API management is ideal to solve all of your businesses integration challenges. 

MuleSoft, provider of the world’s #1 integration and API platform has been recognized by Forrester as a Leader in the Forrester Wave™: Enterprise iPaaS, Q4 2021. MuleSoft delivers a unified platform for integration, automation, and API management plus ecosystems to accelerate innovation at scale for companies across industries. 

According to the Forrester report, “MuleSoft is a strong option for organizations seeking an API-led application integration strategy.” Download the full report

The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise iPaaS, Q4 2021, Forrester Research, October 5, 2021