How to Choose the Right EiPaaS Platform
Most businesses have engaged in some type of digital transformation over the past few years. The enthusiasm for automating business processes and accelerating digital transformation grew during the pandemic. The digital transformation used to require a lot of effort and time from both internal and external developers. Businesses must adapt quickly to current events and changing business landscapes.
Many businesses fail to transform their business digitally. Or they create a hybrid model where only a small portion of the business processes are digitally transformed. Instead of digital-native companies like Uber and Airbnb, most businesses fail to digitally transform. Brownfield companies, i.e. real-enterprise firms that have a subset of their business processes automated, are the ones that fail to digitalize.
Brownfield companies that want to further their automation capabilities by integrating existing automated processes with external data/applications/businesses/APIs are challenged to pick the right set of tools to solve the problem at hand. These companies often waste time in planning or get stuck in the middle trying to find the best technologies and architectural styles.
An iPaaS solution is the best way to solve this problem for businesses. iPaaS is an acronym for Integration Platform as a service. It facilitates the development, deployment, execution, management, and monitoring of integration processes that connect multiple endpoints. An EiPaaS (Enterprise iPaaS solution) is recommended. This is a set of iPaaS technologies that can support enterprise-class integration initiatives. It also supports multiple integration persons (especially integration specialists and ad hoc integrators) and provides API management capabilities.
The EiPaaS market is rapidly evolving and highly competitive, making it difficult to find the right vendor. This article will help you choose the best EiPaaS solution to suit your business. This article was written based on the six most popular EiPaaS vendors, which include Jitterbit (Dell Boomi), MuleSoft, SnapLogic, and SnapLogic.
The following 28 features should be considered when evaluating an offer:
- Permission for development of integration flow
- Supports integration lifecycle Management
- Application, technology, and data source connectors
- Facilitates visual data mapping
- Provides log-level monitoring/observability
- Provides business observability/app-level analytics
- Provides low-code support
- Provides no-code support
- Provides API management and API publishing
- Provides single-step deployment support
- Provides hybrid integration platform strategies
- Provides multi-cloud support
- Allows for elastic scaling of deployments
- Provides fine-grained resource tracking
- Ensures secure access to endpoints, APIs, and platform security
- High-availability and disaster recovery
- offers observability at the level of the internal app/integration
- Provides an API developer portal
- Software engineering support throughout the entire lifecycle
- Marketplace availability for APIs, connectors, and integration templates
- Facilitates collaborative development among integration developers
- Provides support for EDA
- Provides debugging/troubleshooting support for integrations
- Facilitates execution of an on-premises data plan
- Offers AI-assisted integration development capability
- Provides AI-assisted integration testing capability
- Provides AI-assisted performance feedback during development
- Performs AI-based performance anomaly detection
The 16 first “Golden Features” are the most important and powerful. These are the essential “Golden Features” that should be mandatory in every EiPaaS solution. The “Differentiators” are the remaining features (17-28). Only a handful of EiPaaS solutions have “Differentiators”, which are features that are not available elsewhere. There are two main types of “Differentiators”: “Standard Differentiators”, and “Nice to Have Differentiators”.
“Standard Differenceiators” are features found in most EiPaaS solutions. However, we believe they will soon be transformed into “Golden Features”. It is important to make sure that the “Standard Differenceiators” are offered by EiPaaS vendors or made available on their roadmap for the future. The “Standard Differenceiators” feature 17 through 23 of the list.
“Nice to Have Differentiators” are features that EiPaaS vendors prefer to offer. This category includes features that are supported by AI/ML technology. These features have no direct impact on EiPaaS capabilities but they will significantly improve the user experience which in turn would lead to a faster integration process. The following features have been identified as “Nice to Have Differentiators” among the others.
Permission for development of integration flow
EiPaaS vendors mostly offer their services as APIs and integrations. EiPaaS solutions allow for the development of integration flows that can be used to create routing or orchestration solutions. Data is received and transformed before being routed to its destination in the routing scenario. It is possible to connect multiple APIs and create one flow in the orchestration scenario. This should be a core feature of all EiPaaS solutions.
The EiPaaS platform will allow the developer to validate/test the flow, execute it (run) and deploy it easily after he has created it.
Supports integration lifecycle Management
All deployed integration flows must be accessible from one portal. Developers should have the ability to view the status of all their integration solutions, as well as change the deployment status for any of them. This includes redeployed, undeployed, and deployed. All EiPaaS solutions must provide an integrated management portal that supports the management of the integration lifecycle.
Application, technology, and data source connectors
Any EiPaaS solution’s main strength lies in its ability to connect to many endpoints, both on-premises or in the cloud. Although some vendors may organize their connectors according to different business lines, the most common classifications of connectors are application, technology, and data source. It is important to determine if the EiPaaS solution can solve the problem by using the available connectors.
Jitterbit and other EiPaaS vendors allow developers to create connectors. EiPaaS platforms that offer this capability are a great choice, as they can do more than just provide connectors.
Facilitates visual data mapping
Data mapping is the process of mapping data elements between two different data models. It is essential for any integration scenario. Multi-model data models can make it more difficult to map attributes between them. All EiPaaS solutions include visual data mapping as a key function. We do note, however, that different vendors might provide different definitions for data mapping and visual data mapping capabilities are not available in all offerings.
Some EiPaaS vendors offer AI-assisted data map capabilities. This allows data attributes to be mapped in just seconds. These data mapping recommendation systems give their mappings and the level of confidence for each map. An EiPaaS solution should offer both visual and AI-assisted data map capabilities.
Provides log-level monitoring/observability
As all integrations need to be monitored for health, monitoring capabilities (or observability), are essential. Developers should have access to event-based logs for all integration flows post-deployment. Log-level monitoring is useful in troubleshooting and debugging integration flows. Ensure that your EiPaaS solution has event-based logs.
Provides business observability/app-level analytics
Most EiPaaS vendors provide log-level visibility. This includes metrics such as the total number of requests, average response time, failed operations, and long-running operations. This feature can also be called app-level analytics. App-level monitoring is similar to log-level monitoring. It can be used for troubleshooting and debugging integration flows.
It is important to evaluate the interpretation of visualizations and the support they provide for errors detection when evaluating the monitoring support of EiPaaS platform platforms. Some vendors, like Jitterbit, Dell Boomi, and Workato may provide weaker visualizations. They should therefore improve monitoring support.
Provides low-code support
Low-code integration platforms are available for all the most popular EiPaaS platforms on the market. Low-code integration platforms allow you to drag and drop logic structures and connectors to create integrated flows that are minimally coded. Low-code development should not require any text input for simple formulae or expressions. There are many factors to consider when evaluating low-code platforms for integration. These include the availability of low-code programming constructs, the integration specialist skills required, and the level of support provided by the platform.
Over the years, low-code support in EiPaaS has been a priority thanks to integration people such as citizen integrators and ad-hoc integrators. Integration professionals appreciate low-code support in an EiPaaS platform. When choosing an EiPaaS platform, it is crucial to ensure that they offer low-code integration capabilities.
Provides no-code support
Integration developers appreciate low-code support, but no-code support is now a standard feature on EiPaaS platforms. No-code support refers to the availability of reusable integration artifacts, such as cloud streams and prepackaged integration processes in templates.
Reusable integration templates are available from all the top EiPaaS vendors. Also, it is important that these no-code templates can be modified through low-code platforms. Although some vendors offer no-code templates through the marketplace, MuleSoft allows integration specialists and ad hoc programmers to share reusable templates with other citizen integrators.
It is mandatory to provide no-code templates if your digital transformation process would be driven mainly by citizen integrators or ad-hoc integrators, led by a few integration experts. These templates can be modified through the low-code canvas.
Provides API management and API publishing
An iPaaS platform must provide API management capabilities for integration. This is a requirement to qualify as an EiPaaS Platform. It is therefore a “Golden” feature provided by all EiPaaS vendors. It is clear that not all APIM offerings cover API management for the entire lifecycle and are therefore limited in their API management capabilities.
It is therefore important to carefully evaluate the API management capabilities offered by EiPaaS providers when selecting an EiPaaS solution. SnapLogic, for example, was less focused on API management capabilities.
It is crucial to assess not only the platform’s ability but also its maturity in creating, deploying, and managing APIs. An API gateway and administration portal are mandatory.
Provides single-step deployment support
Cloud-native engineering is a growing trend in digital transformation. The cloud should host the hardware that underlies the digital setup. Developers with extensive cloud-native engineering skills were required to digitally transform businesses to become cloud-native. EiPaaS has made it possible for integration developers to deploy their integration solutions in a matter of seconds. All EiPaaS vendors offer single-step deployment support, allowing integration to be completed quickly.
Provides hybrid integration platform strategies
All EiPaaS solutions using hybrid integration platform strategies can integrate any combination between on-premises endpoints and cloud-resident endpoints. This capability is available in most EiPaaS solutions, which has been essential given the complexity of new integration use cases.
Provides multi-cloud support
Multi-cloud support is the ability to have integration solutions from different cloud computing providers coexist in one heterogeneous architecture. It can also be used to describe the ability to migrate integration solutions from one cloud service provider to another cloud service provider easily. Multi-cloud support is a feature that all popular EiPaaS products provide. However, some vendors recently added multi-cloud support. It would be a good idea to assess the maturity of multi-cloud support to determine if it is necessary for your digital transformation.
Allows for elastic scaling of deployments
As mentioned earlier, the digital transformation would result in a cloud-native solution. It is important to determine whether an EiPaaS solution offers basic cloud characteristics. Self-service support and support for elastic scaling are important. Elastic scaling allows you to scale up or down automatically based on how much data is being processed and the latency requirements for the cloud integration flow. All EiPaaS platforms offer self-service support as well as elastic scaling for deployments.
Provides fine-grained resource tracking
All EiPaaS solutions include fine-grained resource tracking as part of their pricing model. This is known as “pay-as-you-go” and all EiPaaS products in the market use a consumption-based pricing model.
Ensures secure access to endpoints, APIs, and platform security
Enterprise-class integration projects must ensure security. All EiPaaS vendors detail the security measures taken to protect endpoints and APIs, as well as how they secure the underlying platform. You should check the security policies of any EiPaaS solution you are considering.
High-availability and Disaster Recovery
Enterprise-class integration initiatives include security features such as high availability, disaster recovery, and security. During the final decision-making phase, it would be helpful to evaluate the steps taken for disaster recovery and the high availability of EiPaaS solutions.
offers observability at the level of the internal app/integration
While log-level observability, business observability (app/integration analysis) are both “Golden features” of the platform of the EiPaaS platform, internal app/integration level observation ability is a “Differentiator”. We believe this feature will soon be a “Golden” feature. Internal system metrics such as CPU and memory availability of the deployment will be an added strength when debugging errors/troubleshooting. While SnapLogic and MuleSoft are the EiPaaS vendors that provide this feature, others such as Dell Boomi and Informatica do not offer internal integration observability. We recommend that you choose an EiPaaS vendor that provides internal integration observability now or in the future.
Provides an API developer portal
While an API developer portal is currently an optional feature, we believe it will become a requirement in the near future. An API developer portal is an interface between APIs, their stakeholders.
API developers can also use the API developer portal to publish their “Swagger/OpenAPI Spec” documentation. It is important to assess the plans of the vendor for an API developer portal when evaluating EiPaaS’s API management capabilities. However, Workato does not available an API developer portal. Other vendors like Jitterbit and MuleSoft, SnapLogic, Informatica, and Dell Boomi offer API developer portals. However, it is worth considering the maturity of the feature, such as how the API management capabilities were evaluated.
Software engineering support throughout the entire lifecycle
Software engineering support is the assistance provided to create integrated solutions that require an agile approach. The company must be able to innovate quickly during the modern digital transformation process. It is becoming a requirement to enable rapid digital innovation in an agile way. A solution called EiPaaS will support integration developers in developing incrementally integrated flows.
Developers from the same company should also be able to contribute to integration flows created by others on platforms that support collaborative development. Informatica’s EiPaaS platform Informatica did not offer software engineering lifecycle support, but it was available in different capacities on other platforms like Jitterbit and MuleSoft, SnapLogic, Workato, SnapLogic, SnapLogic, and Jitterbit.
Marketplace availability for APIs, connectors, and integration templates
All EiPaaS solutions offer a variety of connectors, APIs, and no-code templates that were developed by platform developers. However, we believe that an EiPaaS solution’s strength should not be limited to the pre-built APIs.
Third parties can share their integration artifacts with the public through the availability of an API marketplace, connectors, or no-code templates. Workato allows integration developers to share no-code templates with the public. MuleSoft’s unified marketplace for integration templates, connectors, and APIs is a marketplace. We recommend EiPaaS platforms that provide marketplaces for APIs and integration assets, but not just those that are easily available.
Facilitates collaborative development among integration developers
Every company must be a software company within its domain in the digital age. Everybody must be an integration developer. Although developers used to be located in the IT department, they are now available in all lines of business.
Citizen integrators and ad-hoc integrators are required to work under the guidance of integration specialists in order to accelerate digital transformation. EiPaaS solutions offer support to developers from all three integration persons in order to collaborate. SnapLogic doesn’t support collaborative development, however. Jitterbit allows integration persons to work simultaneously on the same project. This feature is similar to other “Standard differentiators”, and we think it will become a common feature in the near future.
Provides support for EDA
Boomi and Informatica provide support for event-driven architectures (EDA), while MuleSoft doesn’t offer EDA support. Workato, SnapLogic, and Jitterbit were recommended for their support of message-oriented middleware.
Provides debugging/troubleshooting support for integrations
It is common to find errors in deployed integrations after the deployment of the integration flows. It is possible to provide log-level and metric-level observability. However, root cause analysis (RCA), would be more useful. MuleSoft is a vendor that strongly supports debugging. Other vendors only provide basic support for troubleshooting. The Dell Boomi platform did not demonstrate deep observability and RCA support.
We strongly believe that EiPaaS platforms need to support deep observation, where they monitor integrations for any errors or shortcomings in deployments. Platforms should alert users when errors are detected. Some platforms, such as Workato, even automate error handling. This feature is another advantage EiPaaS solutions have as it provides first-hand support to its users. It should therefore be considered when selecting an EiPaaS solution.
Facilitates execution of an on-premises data plan
Many EiPaaS vendors offer cloud-centric solutions that enable both control-plane and data-plane components of EiPaaS to run in the clouds. While organizations can increase their productivity by having all their data and applications within one EiPaaS provider it is important that they do not forget about their legacy systems. These Brownfield companies will need to implement a hybrid EiPaaS system. Hybrid EiPaaS solutions allow data-plane components to reside on-premises or in a private cloud.
The components of the off-cloud data-plane can sync with configurations and integrations within the control-plane, as well as policies, and enforce them within the data-plane. To generate insights, the data plane periodically captures data by syncing with the control plane. Such on-premises/private-cloud data-plane components can run on virtual machines or bare metal. They must run on top container orchestration platforms such as Kubernetes for greater automation and dynamic scaling. To get the most out of cloud-native technologies, it is important that data-plane components be built in accordance with them.
Only Workato recently enabled the execution of an on-premises database plane, it was discovered. We believe this feature is important for Brownfield organizations that have legacy systems. They continue to play key roles.
Offers AI-assisted integration development capability
All data related to integration flows will be stored in the cloud because EiPaaS solutions are hosted in the cloud. This allows platform service providers to easily access all data. EiPaaS solutions are focusing on empowering EiPaaS through AI solutions. They use large amounts of data while respecting the privacy of their users. As described in the visual data mapping section, vendors can perform AI-based automated data mapping. This is one type of AI-assisted integration capability.
The next connector/component suggestion is another feature that provides AI-assisted integration development capabilities. SnapLogic and Workato offer this feature, but other vendors like Boomi, Informatica, Mulesoft, and Mulesoft do not yet have it.
These AI-assisted features, as mentioned in the definition “Nice to Have Differentiators”, while do not directly impact the EiPaaS capabilities, they will significantly improve the user experience and lead to a quicker integration experience.
Provides AI-assisted integration testing capability
All EiPaaS vendors offer support for validation/testing integration flows. However, users must manually generate test cases which can be cumbersome and time-consuming. EiPaaS vendors could use Natural Language Processing to automatically generate test cases for multiple routes of an integration flow. SnapLogic and Dell Boomi claim to be able to automate regression testing. However, none of these popular platforms seems to have considered AI-assisted integration tests.
Provides AI-assisted performance feedback during development
Integration flows are created by connecting to endpoints on-premises and in the cloud using connectors. Different combinations of connectors that are connected to each other programming constructs could result in different performance counters. Therefore, if the EIPAS solution can provide feedback in terms of performance numbers for the integration flow, and integration developer can be directed to write performance-optimized code. This feature and other features that optimize performance were not available in other EiPaaS options, but we believe integration performance is crucial to the success of businesses.
Performs AI-based performance anomaly detection
AI-based performance anomaly detection is an extension of the “Provides debugging/troubleshooting support for integration” feature. It would be a great addition to existing capabilities if the EiPaaS solution could detect performance issues such as memory leaks and CPU hogs. AI capabilities are necessary to detect performance anomalies. We did not find any EiPaaS vendors with such capabilities.
When choosing an EiPaaS solution for digital transformation and integration flows, be sure to consider all of the above features. The first 16 features of an EiPaaS solution should be included.
We recommend that you choose an EiPaaS platform that either provides the “Standard Differentiators”, listed from 17-23 or has those features included in their roadmap. It is preferable to include the “Nice-to-Have Differentiators” (listed from 24-28), which mainly includes AI-assisted features, in the EiPaaS platform you choose. This would greatly improve the user experience and lead to a quicker and more guided integration.
Last but not least, we recommend that you choose an EiPaaS option based not only on the immediate integration needs of your business but also on keeping in mind the type of integration scenarios your company may have to deal with in the future.