For any business which involves IT or even non-IT, one of the most important components is data. Data is the driving force for decision making. Decision makers make decisions based on reports which the data, being created through processes, represents. As because data is so important, databases or storages are having a lot of importance in the software industry. Few of the major businesses on IT software produces databases to ensure quick retrieval of persistent data when required. Businesses, on the other hand, uses the IT industry to make sure their business runs efficiently through a set of software. Some of these softwares are tailor-made particularly for one business while others are specifically dealing with a particular set of business.
Even if you are using a software product, or services, one of the major concern for any software vendor is how data created in one environment flows to another. Integration platform ensures the data flow executes perfectly, on time and also following the business rule specific to a particular business. A new set of the industry has been evolved to ensure that software can efficiently talk to each other without human intervention. A large number of software vendors are also leveraging the industry to connect two or more applications.
iPaaS as an Industry
As a common problem for every software is to ensure connectivity, a major set of software vendor taken this industry to a new level. A set of software product evolved over time, which addresses these issues and takes care of integration between two or more application. With the advent of the cloud industry, a lot of software vendors are providing solutions to these problems.
Software tools which are simple and does not support any change require an integration platform which is more or less plug and play. The software which is always pre-packaged by the software vendor for usage is Integration software as a service. Examples: Zapier, Microsoft Flow, Tray.io, oplim etc.
iPaaS, on the other hand, is oriented towards more complex software programs where a large number of integration customizations are required. A large number of vendors in the iPaaS segment are constantly building software or services which can help the developers or end users to simplify the task of building complex integration problems.
Some of the prominent iPaaS software players are Infromatica, Mulesoft, APPSeCONNECT, Dell Boomi etc. In this blog, we will understand what are the things that you must keep in mind while choosing your integration solution.
Rule 1: Your Software Platform Should not be Rigid While Delivering a Solution-
As a business analyst or business decision maker, if you are dealing with complex software, you must understand, that your business needs more and more adjustments over time, so software that you are choosing should have the functionality to incorporate the changes.
For example, let’s say, you are running an eCommerce Store, and you keep the customer information to a separate database which another software uses to send occasional newsletters. Now to be compliant with GDPR, your company has undergone certain changes and because of privacy, your security auditor asks you not to save the customer info to a separate database. But as you already have an integration platform in place, you don’t have a clue on how to stop this action. Do you want to hire a developer to remove the integration? Does your integration solution at all cater the problem we have talked about? Does your software always need a developer for maintenance? Does your software require a developer to remove simple integrations? These are the common question you must ask yourself while choosing the integration platform.
In the case of APPSeCONNECT, we made sure every integration you make is developed independently before it is taken part in complex business data flows. These ensure that data flow between one application to another is individually identifiable and you can turn on or off any business data flow without hampering any other, this is in contrast with other integration platforms where all integration points are inseparable and cannot be decoupled easily.
Rule 2: Do you Know Whether the Software Handles Exceptions Correctly or Not?
As integration software always deals with large volumes of data, it is important to note that you must see how the exceptions are handled in the software. Some software tries to cleanse the data automatically, but it is not always possible to execute a continuous stream of transactions without failures. As an integration platform, there should be an easier mechanism which keeps track to all the transactions being performed, logs it somewhere and can retry them at a later point of time, or even notifies the IT Systems department for manual data cleansing.
APPSeCONNECT provides an inbuilt mechanism of data error handling without requiring any input from the implementation. Thus if implementation consultant misses out on the implementation of exception strategies, the platform covers it for you.
Rule 3: Have you Ensured that your Integration Platform is Generic and can Connect any Application?
Well, as a business owner, you never know when you require additional services. Now if you require additional services, you want to always ensure your integration can also update itself. As a matter of fact, some integrations require a huge effort in developing the integration, whereas some integration does not support all data transfer protocols. Before choosing an integration platform, you need to make sure the platform should at least cater a large number of applications, so as to ensure it supports a number of generic protocols.
APPSeCONNECT provides software development kit to develop connectors for the platform. The marketplace can list all the applications for which adapters are created. As these adapters involve high-level software programs, it can connect any protocols in the market. APPSeCONNECT also provides generic protocol-based adapters which can connect to any application which follows a protocol. Pre-Packed Business Process Integration Softwares like APPSeCONNECT offer many intelligent and useful features such as Rule Engine for data flow analysis amongst others.
Rule 4: Does your Integration Platform Support all Kinds of Integrations?
Generally, integration involves APIs. Hence, the integration platform provides a scheduler which allows a business integration flow to be scheduled at a certain interval or at a fixed time. But this is not always true for every transaction you make. Sometimes, it is a requirement to have data in place almost in real-time. To deal with these scenarios, the application provides Webhooks which can be termed as a callback to a business transaction, and the integration platform needs to handle these callbacks for data synchronizations. Hence, even though you need to understand how extensive scheduler the integration platform provides, you must question the integration provider whether they support webhook based integration as well or not.
With APPSeCONNECT, we provide web-based secured web channels which exposes a specific port to our cloud server such that when you configure the webhook to a particular entity on an application, we make sure the request is properly converted to a flow execution. Our workflow can either be scheduled or can be triggered, the triggered workflow gives you an URL, which can be configured to a Webhook to invoke execution.
Rule 5: Does it Support both Hybrid and Cloud Integrations?
Cloud is the future but data is secure. How does one handle these scenarios? Well, as an integration platform, it should support both the benefits. It should have environments on the true cloud where both applications being in the cloud does data transfer over cloud itself, it should also support on-premise environment such that you can also sync data between on-premise to cloud or On-premise to on-premise. Or in other words, the integration platform should support on-premise apps as well as full cloud apps.
APPSeCONNECT provides a hybrid application which involves cloud for configuration and on-premise for execution, and also provide full cloud hosting where integration is also performed over the cloud in addition to configurations.
Rule 6: How Secure is your Integration Platform?
Data is primal, hence security is important. Even after investing hell lot of money to secure our own datacenter, network etc, if the applications involved in performing business does not provide security, it is all in vain. As an integration platform, one must provide valid security certificates such that you can ensure your data is in safe hands.
APPSeCONNECT provides best of breed security to the customers. Every transaction is always encrypted, i.e., encrypted in transit, and encrypted at rest. The passwords are hashed while being stored, logic is encrypted etc. We are also GDPR compliant.
Rule 7: Can you Visually see the Execution of Workflows?
Visual workflow or business flow is also one of the most important components you must look for. While designing a workflow or a process, you must have proper tooling to orchestrate or make sure the data is flowing in the correct directions. Debugging through visual workflow makes sure, you as an engineer easily identify and understand how data is getting flown from one place to another.
APPSeCONNECT as a platform provide complete visibility of all of the data being flown from one application to another or a set of applications. You can debug, unit test your integration visually designed with a number of tooling capabilities such that you can easily identify problems in a business data flows.
Rule 8: Does your Integration Provider gives you Constant Monitoring Through Rules?
Even though you develop your integration, you need to constantly monitor the data flow between one application to another. You can hire a person who looks after the data constantly but thinks about its efficiency. As your business grows, you need an extra eye on identifying problems automatically. Rules are business processes which monitor on the data flow, environments, network etc and provide notification based on certain failure or case you have identified. The platform additionally can provide Artificial intelligence to decide which process to execute for a particular scenario.
APPSeCONNECT provides rules which allow the integration developer to configure certain scenario which can trigger a notification or a process. You can use a Rule either in a schedule or can be triggered through events.
Rule 9: Is your Integration Platform Built using the Latest and Best of Breed Technologies?
Technology is changing quite rapidly. With time a lot of technologies are getting old and are being replaced by newer and more enhanced technologies. Integration platforms mainly dealt with enterprise service bus (ESB) before, but gradually it is identified ESBs are not ideal or best case for an integration. Integration needs security as well as encapsulation of data while being executed. While choosing your integration platform, you need to make sure the platform uses the best of breed technology in the correct places.
APPSeCONNECT is built totally using microservices, which ensures every execution unit is decoupled separately and containerized to ensure no other workload is affecting your execution requests.
Rule 10: Does your Integration Provider Meets the ROI?
Another important consideration is the pricing. Well, you might have spent a lot of money while buying expensive software. But have you ensured that you have correctly optimized your spending? How about getting the same services or even better services at a much cheaper rate? Everyone wants to optimize the spends as this will increase your profit and it is what you are doing business for. Before choosing an enterprise-grade integration platform, you must calculate the ROI of the application.
APPSeCONNECT is generic, superior, in-expensive, enterprise-grade integration solution that runs smoothly over a huge number of countries driven by partners all over the world. We provide very competitive pricing so as to ensure you meet the ROI.
Selection of correct integration platform is key to the success of a business. If you are already using a software which is not at par in terms of ease of use and visibility and also extensibility, it is correct time to change your integration software.
I am sure, you might have understood the most important features and points you need to remember while choosing an integration platform. If you have anything else in mind which might also add to the points, do let us know in the comment box.
Now, you can easily integrate your line of business applications to automate the business process!
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