Enterprise Integration Platform as a service (EiPaaS) is commonly used to describe a suite of cloud-based tools and services that are designed to support enterprise-grade integration strategy and initiatives. The hallmarks of EiPaaS products are ease-of-use, standardization and pre-built modules such as connection endpoints (usually API-based, to connect to a business application like CRM or ERP), automation flow builder and error handler. In addition to that, many modern EiPaaS solutions pursue the low-code approach to enable seasoned integrators and junior developers alike to automate business processes and connect databases, systems and applications at considerably lower cost and time investment compared to in-house development.
There are many small and large iPaaS vendors that help organizations to tackle both common and company-specific integration challenges, and choosing the right provider for your company often involves hours and hours of researching and comparing different products’ capabilities. The following providers belong to the main players in this field and we hope that this overview guide of their products’ characteristics and USPs can save you at least a couple of hours of research. The USPs listed below are based purely on user reviews from two major enterprise software review portals, G2Crowd and Capterra.
The company Mulesoft sprung in 2006 (fun fact: it was called MuleSource back then) out of the open source Mule project, which initially had Universal Message Object (UMO) API at the core of its architecture. Overtime Mulesoft expanded its product portfolio from a light-weight Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) to its now flagship product, Anypoint Platform, that combines the capabilities of a cloud-based integration (CloudHub™) and on-premises integration (Mule ESB™) with full-cycle API Management on top of it. In 2018 Mulesoft was acquired by Salesforce, yet it still operates as an independent entity.
Central characteristics of Anypoint Platform:
- Reusable connectors and templates built by Mulesoft itself or its partners
- Flexible deployment across on-premises, cloud (Mulesoft’s or your own), and hybrid
- Full lifecycle Application Programming Interface management with functional tests and customized dashboards
- Compliance for most common security standards including GDPR (relevant for EU-based companies and customers)
- Custom development of your own APIs with with RAML, OAS, AsyncAPI or GraphQL specifications
Anypoint Platform USPs highlighted by users:
The one feature of Mulesoft that many users pointed out is that it supports full lifecycle and development of APIs, handling virtually all phases of such a project: designing, managing, deploying and monitoring APIs as well creating custom policies can be done within one single platform. In addition to that, several users highlighted Anypoint Platform’s capabilities of monitoring and analytics of usage metrics.
Boomi was considered to be rather a small company (TechCrunch wrote “Boomi has raised only $4 million in venture capital”) in 2010 when Dell acquired this then-startup. 10 years later, Dell Boomi is one of the truly leading providers of EiPaaS and has appeared in Gartner’s Enterprise iPaaS Magic Quadrant for several consecutive years. Like many other iPaaS providers, it also embraced the no-code approach as early as in 2017 with its Integration Accelerator for NetSuite, allowing non-tech users to build automated integrations.
- Single-instance platform with multi-tenant architecture
- Flexible deployment (public or private clouds or on-premises) through Boomi Atom, Dell Boomi’s proprietary runtime engine
- Out-of-the-box, drag and-drop visual interface to promote the low-code approach to integration
- Automated data mapping and connector configuration suggestions based on analysis of anonymized metadata
- Further modules to explore: Master Data Hub, B2B/EDI Management, API Management
USPs highlighted by users:
Ease-of-use is what many users like about Dell Boomi, even though it needs to be mentioned that this applies to tech-savvy people. As one customer pointed out: “…Boomi is built with the idea that not only technical people can do these integrations. […] However, in reality non-technical people can only achieve very simple integrations with the drag&drop features of the platform. More technical knowledge is needed because most of the times the requirements are more complex and require custom scripting/mapping between data formats”. Another commonly cited USP is that Boomi offers the same value at lower cost than some of its prominent competitors.
elastic.io Enterprise Integration Platform
Founded in 2012, elastic.io belongs to the so-called new-generation iPaaS solutions that fully leverage the power of APIs, are cloud-native by nature and built with event-driven, real-time data exchange in mind. Initially conceived as a plug-and-play integration widget, elastic.io quickly evolved into a full-fledged enterprise integration platform as a service (EiPaaS) that addresses not only the integration needs of non-tech midsize and enterprise companies but also those of SaaS providers. Over the course of 2017-2020, elastic.io donated a part of its code to the Open Integration Hub project, an open-source integration framework designed to cater for integration needs of small businesses.
Central characteristics of the elastic.io iPaaS:
- Cloud-native platform with multi-tenant architecture and four deployment models (private/public cloud, multi-cloud, on-premises and hybrid)
- Reusable and extensible connectors for mainstream applications and databases
- Connectivity to virtually any API with dedicated REST, SOAP, OpenAPI and ODATA connectors
- Event-driven, real-time, scheduled or high-volume batch data synchronization
- Intuitive visual interface for low-code data mapping, connector configuration and error handling
- Proprietary Integration Management API and white labelling option available to SaaS vendors
elastic.io iPaaS USPs highlighted by users:
elastic.io’s most compelling differentiator is the ease with which custom connectors can be developed and the overall intuitive usage. Another characteristic often cited by the users is the quality of support and the platform’s scalability: “This saves us a lot of time and effort, unlike other tools we have used previously to set up servers and APIs”. With this in mind, it must be noted that just like with Boomi, the ease-of-use benefit applies mostly to developers and tech-savvy people. As one user noted: “Docs not suitable for non-developer users – the learning curve is initially quite high for those not familiar with the architecture and how elastic.io is built”.
Snaplogic was founded around the same time when Mulesoft launched its company – in 2006. Snaplogic stood out from the majority of the data integration players by offering a truly cloud-based iPaaS that would host on Amazon’s EC2 but could also run on-premises. Moreover, it used – and still does so – an open-source, Python-based integration framework. Now, SnapLogic is undoubtedly one of the household names in the field of application integration and data integration, providing a tool that is catered for both tech-savvy integrators as well as users with less technological experience.
- Real-time as well as high-volume batch integration for various use cases
- Drag-and-drop connecting endpoints for mainstream applications and key-value databases
- Flexible deployment options with Snaplogic’s proprietary modules Snaplex, Cloudplex and Groundplex
- Automation of repetitive, low-level development tasks with Iris AI based on collected metadata
- Fast Data Loader to quickly inject data into Snowflake, Amazon Redshift, or SAP cloud data warehouse
USPs highlighted by users:
Snaplogic developed a predictive ML-based application – the above-mentioned Iris AI – which users mention in connection with the flow designer ease-of-use. For one, it’s said to help developers identify which snap to use next. Another big selling point for Snaplogic’s platform that is often mentioned by users is an easy-to-learn interface, which allows even initial-level developers to excel at building integrations: ”I received no training to use the software but was able to figure it out and within an hour or two I was building pipelines.”
Founded in 2003, Jitterbit underwent a transformation from a purely open source offering to a commercial integration software, although there is still an open source version of it that allows to reuse some common integrations with databases and APIs. With its Harmony platform, Jitterbit has continuously developed a stable and versatile integration solution that allows IT teams to connect cloud as well as on-premises systems. According to user ratings, Jitterbit is considered to be one of the more user-friendly iPaaS tools on the current market and addresses both tech-savvy as well as less-techy user groups.
Central characteristics of Harmony:
- Point-and-click configuration of integrations flow with Jitterbit’s own Cloud Studio flow designer
- Full lifecycle API management for creation, publishing and analyzing of custom APIs
- Mobile-friendly: Monitor projects, manage users and set up scheduling from any connected device including mobile devices
- Pre-built recipes for non-technical users
- A large number of add-ons to the main Harmony platform, e.g. logging and debugging, API proxy or EDI
Harmony USPs highlighted by users:
It stands out among reviews for the majority of the vendors on this list that Jitterbit’s support is extremely helpful, resolving issues quickly and efficiently. It also seems that Harmony proved to be particularly efficient at connecting to Salesforce, although it goes without saying that the platform provides dozens of pre-built connectors to popular enterprise applications, for example NetSuite, DocuSign, Snowflake, or Magento. Another USP often mentioned by the users is the fast learning curve and ease-of-use.
Similar to elastic.io, Workato belongs to the new generation of iPaaS products that are built light-weight and cloud-native from the start. Founded in 2013, Workato started out as an enterprise version of Zapier, offering the so-called recipes for integrations – pre-built app-to-app integration templates. Overtime, though, its offering changed into a full-blown EiPaaS platform, although Workato still offers its users a large number of templates, many of which are community-built. Unlike many other iPaaS vendors on this list, Workato serves not only large enterprises, but also small to midsize companies.
- Low-code integration approach with reusable connectors and pre-built automation flows from Workato and community members
- Support for Robotic Process Automation (RPA) jobs with the help of APIs, parsers and screen-scraping technologies
- ETL/ELT pipelines for data ingestion into Snowflake, BigQuery, Redshift or other data warehouses
- Low-code workbot platform for building custom chatbots within Slack or Microsoft Teams
- Real-time, scheduled or batch sync jobs for both cloud and on-premises
USPs highlighted by users:
Good documentation, a large number of tutorials and helpful as well as responsive support are among the things most often pointed out by the users. In addition to that, Workato stands out by a large number of available connectors as well as the recipes shared by the community members. These things combined make Workato an easy tool to learn and accelerate the development of integrations. It is also clear from the reviews that Workato is used not only by enterprise users but also by small companies, too, which differentiates it from the majority of other iPaaS vendors on this list.
Informatica can be rightfully considered as one of the biggest – and oldest – names in the field of data integration. Founded as early as in 1993, Informatica quickly became the best tool to use for moving large batches of data from a source to a server. Admittedly, having lagged behind a number of iPaaS vendors for quite some time when it comes to light, event-driven and real-time data exchange between applications, it must not be forgotten that Informatica offers a wide range of products, starting from ETL and going all the way to data virtualization and master data management.
Central characteristics of Informatica’s PowerCenter:
- High-performance, multi-cloud integration for private / public cloud as well as hybrid scenarios
- B2B Gateway with comprehensive monitoring and tracking to easily onboard cloud partners
- Pre-built, ready-to-use functions, transformations, and templates suitable even for complex integrations
- Cloud-native Application Programming Interface integration and orchestration service for managing APIs
- Profiling, cleansing, and enriching data using Informatica’s set of prebuilt data quality rules
PowerCenter USPs highlighted by users:
With Informatica’s PowerCenter, it quickly becomes clear that it is often used for processing large amounts of various types of information and is great at ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) jobs. This reinforces the position of Informatica’s integration solution on the market as a tool best suited for large-volume data migration and exchange between e.g. databases and data warehouses. In addition to that, several users highlighted powerful data visualization and transformation capabilities of the tool. Despite the concept of complexity that is often associated with the name Informatica, the tool appears to be user-friendly and quite easy to learn to work with.
What to look for in an EiPaaS vendor?
There are a number of capabilities that you should expect from an iPaaS vendor no matter what your use cases are:
Asynchronous and synchronous messaging transmission types
Keep in mind that while some systems might be able to perform in-memory message processing, others would have lesser message rate tolerance, having to deal with create, read, update, and delete (i.e. CRUD) operations with, say, databases or other datasets storages. An iPaaS should cater for any type of communication scenario, both synchronous as well as asynchronous.
Support for various enterprise integration patterns described by Gregor Hohpe
Since these provide well-known and proven solutions to many common problems that teams encounter when they need to integrate systems, apps and platforms, it is important that an EiPaaS supports at least the key patterns such as content-based routing, message splitting, publish-subscribe, event message, request-reply, and message filter.
A fully managed service
Your IT organization has enough day-to-day management challenges with the increasingly complex IT environments. An EiPaaS of your choice should come with automatic and continuous system and connector updates, high levels of compliance and security, and robust as well as transparent change management.
Robust user management
An Enterprise Integration Platform as a Service is designed for your team to work together both within as well as beyond your IT infrastructure, for example with the company’s partner network or suppliers. This will help your teams operate in an agile way. As a result, various user types will require different levels of access to the tool, which needs to be reflected in the user role and permission management.
How to select the best EiPaaS vendor?
Start with your company’s own needs and requirements
It goes without saying that choosing an EiPaaS should be a well-informed decision which starts with you defining your integration strategy. You must ask yourself first what scenarios are relevant to your company as of today and what will most likely come in the near future. For example, how crucial are or will become agility, availability and scalability? Do you require real-time exchange based on events? Even before you start diving into the technical specifications, you should center your research around the most obvious requirements.
Do your due diligence
Once you have defined your current and future strategy, get to know the various EiPaaS products out there. Do not always rely on analytic reports as these are oftentimes affiliated and biased; use for example review portals such as Capterra and G2Crowd, or peruse the “Best iPaaS vendors” types of articles offered by iPaaS-independent blogs, e.g. by Hubspot. There is a breadth of EiPaaS providers, some with slightly more known names such as WSO2, Red Hat, IBM, Celigo, and some with less but with equally powerful and sometimes even more forward-looking and future-proof technology underneath.
Focus on portfolio and pricing
After you’ve identified the vendors you want to learn about more, continue to their respective websites to review their service portfolio and pricing, or request for pricing if it’s hidden. The pricing model will most likely vary greatly, but look closely at the costs for consulting, education, onboarding, professional services, and development along with licensing and connector costs with a view of capacity to support your organization’s growth and the potential need to scale up. Our personal piece of advice: Avoid having to pay extra for a fixed number of additional connectors ‘cause this might blow your budget as soon as you get past the initial projects.
Don’t shy away from requesting a demo
An EiPaaS is not your next meeting notes app; it’s a complex tool that requires learning and understanding it profoundly in order to harness the full potential of it. Yes, we’re all familiar with the likes of Zapier yet keep in mind that full self-service often comes with restricted capabilities. If you can sign up and start testing the tool bypassing the sales and customer success – by any means, go ahead and do this but if you feel stuck at some point, don’t miss out on asking for a demo with a vendor’s tech professional who can familiarize you with a platform’s features and capabilities. After all, this 30-60 minutes demo session can save you hours of your precious time and might help you find just the EiPaaS you have been looking for.