By Theo Priestley, Consultant at ITredux

I was recently with a client who is looking for a new enterprise software solution and they have a very positive outlook towards Cloud. They love it, so much so that they weren’t interested in on-premise solutions. This represents a real shift in attitude, and the company is no slouch or tadpole in size either.

And this is where iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) is really coming into the fore and has to rule as a first-thought strategy when entering the cumulonimbus worlds of Cloud and SaaS. In the last month both SoftwareAG (Integration LIVE) and TIBCO (Cloud Bus) have thrown down the gauntlet into the ring with IBM, Mulesoft and Informatica to name a scarce few who are already there.

But why has it taken everyone so long?

iPaaS, without the vendor nonsense clouding the understanding (pun) is a solution provider’s service that allows cloud-cloud and cloud-premise integration for applications. It’s a step away from Cloud Brokerage which is essentially the development and maintenance of SaaS applications and their integration in the entirety. If iPaaS was a scarce offering Brokerage is even thinner on the ground (however take a look at Accenture’s play in this area recently announced in April).

But back to the client at the start of the post. Despite their pro-cloud stance tucked away in their enterprise architecture diagrams was that horrendous long box labelled ‘ESB’ (Enterprise Service Bus) and it just looked so out of place in a forward thinking strategy. And this is where iPaaS doesn’t go far enough for me. iPaaS is limited because it’s built primarily for Cloud based services.

A Cloud based ESB strategy would be a welcome minimum requirement to any iPaaS solution simply because the Service Bus is one of the most overworked and overly relied on pieces of kit in an enterprise stack.

Removing that entire headache of routing messages between disparate systems into a Cloud solution makes more sense where a hybrid environment exists rather than retain that piece on-premise. It’s also a solid first step for companies in moving away from relying on IT to manage the biggest piece of the architecture puzzle. Most of these services will have already undergone SSAE 16, ISO27001, PCI compliance so they’ll be robust and secure and I see no reason not to ask a solution vendor whether they can provide a cloud ESB in its truest sense as part of their iPaas offering.

I see no reason not to ask a solution vendor whether they can provide a cloud ESB in its truest sense as part of their iPaas offering.

Cloud is really at a tipping point now. We have SaaS applications and companies willing to invest but in an unstructured and legacy heavy manner. We have vendors offering to integrate a multi-SaaS strategy with their own solution but still retain that on-premise bus. We have Brokers who will handle it fully end to end. But the key to real Cloud adoption is in how that ESB is treated. It’s the biggest prize to be had and the largest thorn to remove.

The iPaaS rush is on and every cloud has a golden lining, but without clearly including a Cloud-based ESB in that strategy you might just be panning for iron pyrites.


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