Ross Mason

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Integration Providers Respond to the Cloud's Challenge

The "cloud is everything" providers are cloud-centric, responding to the new integration challenges of the cloud

As enterprises deploy SaaS and other cloud technologies, they are confronted with the challenge of integration. It is hard to ignore the impact of the cloud, but responses among integration technology providers have varied.

Integration veteran David Linthicum sees three categories of data integration providers: the "do nothing about cloud computing" providers; the "integration on the cheap" providers; and "the cloud is everything" providers. The "do nothing" providers have largely refrained from moving into the cloud, offering traditional integration solutions that are on-premise and rich in features while the "integration on the cheap" providers are approaching cloud integration from a tactical perspective.

The "cloud is everything" providers are cloud-centric, responding to the new integration challenges of the cloud by aggressively developing on-premise and cloud-based solutions with connectors to leading SaaS, PaaS and IaaS offerings. Linthicum recommends integration solutions from these providers since they are more likely to stay current with changes in the cloud space than other providers.

Linthicum is right to point out the importance of choosing a data integration solution that will evolve with the cloud. Senior decision makers, however, need to especially scrutinize providers who are overly enthusiastic about the cloud to make sure that they aren't simply cloud washing their offerings rather than delivering real integration solutions. Moreover, Linthicum focuses primarily on data integration and leaves out application integration. Some may be left wondering if there are tools available for building and running event-driven, real-time integrations in the cloud.

iPaaS, or integration Platform as a Service, has recently emerged as a promising solution for tackling the multifaceted challenges of cloud integration. As a cloud-based platform for integrating applications across the cloud and enterprise, iPaaS shares some general qualities with each of the three categories of data integration providers above, but it is fast becoming a category all its own.

In addition to supporting simple point-to-point integration, iPaaS includes connectors for various cloud services, making it easy to integrate with popular SaaS offerings. In this respect, iPaaS can serve as a tactical solution but is also designed with the expansion and evolution of cloud offerings squarely in mind.

iPaaS, however, goes beyond tactical integration and isn't all about the cloud. It includes a rich set of capabilities suitable for traditional integration, including intermediation, full service orchestration, service containers, developer tools, and runtime monitoring. Most importantly, iPaaS supports the integration of cloud and legacy systems through a secure enterprise data gateway, making it possible for companies to deploy and manage hybrid computing models.

Although iPaaS is still an emerging market, enterprises can expect to see rapid development in that space. Innovative providers are already setting the stage for iPaaS to become the next generation of integration and governance technology, eventually replacing traditional EAI middleware. In the meantime, iPaaS is poised to take on the immediate challenges of cloud integration.

More Stories By Ross Mason

Ross Masson is the CTO and Founder of MuleSoft. He founded the open source Mule® project in 2003. Frustrated by integration "donkey work," he set out to create a new platform that emphasized ease of development and re-use of components. He started the Mule project to bring a modern approach, one of assembly, rather than repetitive coding, to developers worldwide. Now, with the MuleSoft team, Ross is taking these founding principles of dead-simple integration to the cloud with Mule iON, the world's first integration platform as a service (iPaaS). Ross holds a BS (Hons) in Computer Science from Bristol, UK and has been named in InformationWeek's Top 10 Innovators & Influencers and InfoWorld's Top 25 CTOs.