Reviews

iPaaS Review 2024

iPaaS Review 2024

Process automation, including iPaaS, is a technology that is still young and difficult for many to grasp. It is therefore all the better when technologies and providers are compared and evaluated by independent bodies. However, many of the solutions often presented are only really feasible for large companies. But what does the picture look like for small and medium-sized enterprises?

Digression: What is iPaaS?

Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS for short) is a network of cloud applications that enable the development, execution and control of integration flows. In addition, any combination of "on premises" (i.e. location-based) and cloud-based processes, services, applications and data of individual or multiple companies can be connected.    

Nowadays, companies need deeper data integration, and iPaaS was developed in response to this need. Although it is still a relatively new technology, it has already established itself for a whole range of integration applications, such as IoT networks, microservices or automated API generation. As the name suggests, the integrations are traded as a service, which is why companies do not need to purchase any additional hardware to benefit from iPaaS.

In general, an iPaas platform combines the following properties:  

  • Scalable and flexible integrations  
  • Development and creation of integrations  
  • Provision of integrations  
  • Integration lifecycle management  
  • Integration workflows and performance monitoring  
  • Monitoring and management of application relationships/dependencies  
  • Supporting business governance, compliance and security.  

The advantages of iPaaS

IPaaS can significantly simplify everyday life for companies and has a number of advantages:

Simplicity & speed: Thanks to APIs, the speed of software integrations is improved.  

Flexibility: Every cloud and local application can be integrated and the data synchronised between the apps.  

Scaling: As the applications are cloud-based, they grow optimally with the company or process. Once successfully implemented, cloud automation can support the corresponding workflows over a long period of time.  

Cost management: The costs for iPaaS are more predictable and manageable than in-house or external development for integrations.  

Security & Privacy: iPaaS platforms can set up security measures such as OpenID Connect or Active Directory and track access and usage. They can also help you comply with GDPR and other compliance standards.    

Simplified programming: Many iPaaS platforms offer pre-built integrations for apps like Microsoft SQL Server or MongoDB, and provide scripts or visual code editors that users can modify.

The advantage of iPaaS lies in the increase in efficiency, the high scalability of such integrations and the structuring and optimisation of processes. How is this achieved? Before processes are automated (whether via iPaaS or RPA), they should be analysed and optimised if necessary. Automation is therefore usually a good time to take a closer look at the company's internal processes and their efficiency. After all, it makes little sense to integrate inefficient processes.

The (still) existing weaknesses of iPaaS

As iPaaS is still a relatively new technology, there are still a few weak points:    

Different and inconsistent features: There are sometimes very large differences in the products available on the market.    

Security: iPaaS only offers a secure environment for data if it is set up by experts who know how to apply security measures such as API logging.    

Limitations: The iPaaS infrastructure is limited, which is why some platforms only offer limited performance or scaling to ensure adequate infrastructure capacity for all users.

Who offers iPaaS?

Although the market is still relatively young, there are already many major players. Some of them are well-known companies such as SAP or Microsoft, others are even younger and smaller, such as Zapier or Make. The market is fragmented and different companies have different focuses.  

With the exception of Workato, all of the frontrunners have one thing in common: they are complex, can only be used with a great deal of effort and are mostly aimed primarily at corporations and large companies. They are closed systems that are very difficult to connect with other applications and specialise in corporate groups.  

However, there are already suitable iPaas solutions for small and medium-sized companies, which make up 99.5% of the corporate landscape in Germany. One of these is Make: with a little practice, the platform can also be used without in-depth programming knowledge.

Make connects hundreds of cloud applications, such as Microsoft365, GSuite, the project management tool Asana, Apple iOS, Android or the CRM system Hubspot. This is done via a modular interface, which is used to define the triggers of an automated process as standard and thus initiate a chain reaction. The corresponding functions can be configured individually to create a modular and simple process flow (or workflow):

Unterschied zwischen Digitalisierung und Automatisierung
Example workflow in Make

The costs for Make (in addition to the free version) start at $9 per month and are therefore much more realistic for the self-employed and small businesses.

iPaaS conclusion

iPaaS is the better solution than RPA and is emerging as a future-proof technology.  

RPA (robotic process automation) is a business process automation technology that models business processes by emulating human actions. However, RPA lacks flexibility and one thing in particular: interfaces. As a result, RPA often requires in-house developments that are expensive and time-consuming. In order to successfully connect many applications and programmes with each other in the long term, interfaces (also known as APIs) are required that enable applications to "talk to each other".  

API integration is the preferred solution for SMEs because it is flexible, customised and easy to use, without neglecting complex processes. It also meets the ongoing trend of more and more companies and applications moving to the cloud. In general, it is advisable to try out different iPaaS solutions and weigh up the costs to see which platform best meets the needs of the company.    

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