Cloud ImageThe argument surrounding whether the cloud provides benefits is over. When even governmental organizations start shifting toward a new technology (e.g. AWS GovCloud), you know a lot of time and money has gone into cost/benefit and risk analysis.

So if you’re not in the cloud, how do you take your organization there? And if you are in the cloud, how are you keeping all of your applications and services in sync? This is where iPaaS (integration platform as a service) comes in.

What is iPaaS?

Gartner defines iPaaS as a “suite of cloud services enabling development, execution, governance of integration flows connecting any combination of on premises and cloud-based processes, services, applications and data within individual, or across multiple, organizations.” 1

Integration

Let’s break the iPaaS acronym up a bit. Integration (iPaaS) is the most important part. Since the beginning of the digital age, integration has played a crucial part in ensuring that the data driving our applications is structured correctly and is located in the right place at the right time.

As organizations move to the cloud the same integration requirements apply with even more challenges. For example, the sheer number of services/applications being used and the volumes of data they produce.

Today, it’s only 11am, and I have already used 11 applications/services, 10 of which were cloud based (Salesforce, Gmail, Google Drive, Amazon Web Services, Engine Yard,  Creately, SendGrid, Pivotal Tracker, Braintree and Airbrake). Each of these services solves a specific problem, some are an improvement on old applications, others provide solutions to problems that I could not have solved on my own.

Almost all of these services produce or store data and as a result the entropy of my data has increased dramatically. There is huge value in ensuring all of these different cloud services/applications are powered by the most current data and that they don’t become data silos. It’s also important to ensure a secure integration process exists to support the integration of cloud services with on-premise.

Platform as a Service

The second component of iPaaS is platform as a service. The PaaS offering provides you with a cloud-based platform to support the deployment of your integration workflows. PaaS is the hosting and deployment environment, which can include operating systems, databases, and other basics built directly onto a web-hosted server. No hardware to purchase or maintain relieves any worry about in-house infrastructure, and offers the scalability of the cloud.

Taking your organization to the cloud with FME Cloud

Starting out in 1994 with a focus on integrating spatial data, Safe has expanded its offerings as technology has evolved to provide integration across 300+ formats.

Cloud Integration Diagram showing iPaaS

iPaaS helps information move freely between departments and organizations

Innovative customers and early adopters of cloud computing have been implementing FME Server in the cloud since as early as 2008. Safe responded adding support for more cloud-based data formats and applications, and optimizing its products for use in the new cloud age.

Fast forward to 2013, and we’re seeing an increasing demand to connect not only cloud applications and services (e.g. I recently worked on a integration workflow from box.com to AWS S3), but also mobile devices, and once again we’ve responded.

But this year we’ve taken it a step further. We have just launched FME Cloud, the public beta of our new iPaaS (integration Platform as a Service) offering. No longer do customers need to do any of the setup work. They just sign up, and they’re running in less than 10 minutes, with no hardware or IT infrastructure to buy or manage.

A true cloud solution, FME Cloud also offers the scalability to bring projects from early prototyping right through to full scale enterprise deployments. Pay-as-you-go pricing also makes it workable for startups, and project ideas to get tested and into production.

Many organizations are starting to take advantage of PaaS-delivered solutions, particularly for integrating information between applications that already sit in the cloud.

Do you see ways that an iPaaS could be beneficial to your organization? Or would you be more likely to implement an integration solution on top of a PaaS that you manage yourself?

1 Gartner IT Glossary: iPaaS, http://www.gartner.com/it-glossary/information-platform-as-a-service-ipaas/

Photo CC BY-SA

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Stewart Harper

Stewart is the Technical Director of Cloud Applications and Infrastructure at Safe. When he isn’t building location-based tools for the web, he’s probably skiing or mountain biking.

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