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Integration on the Edge: Data Explosion & Next-Gen Integration

Hollis Tibbetts

Gartner Further Complicates Cloud and SaaS Integration with Multiple Distributed iPaaS Options

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About two weeks ago, Gartner Research released yet another research report on iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) "iPaaS Expands Beyond Cloud Service Integration Through Flexible Deployment Topologies".

Rather than clarify the confusion surrounding iPaaS platforms, it jumbles things up even further.

Disturbingly, it create enough confusion where "technology re-treads" (i.e. old on-premises technology stacks that have been "re-hosted" on a Cloud, but provide none of the benefits of real Cloud and SaaS solutions) could be packaged up and inappropriately marketed as "iPaaS", with the implied (although not actual!!!) approval of Gartner Research - by virtue of fitting nicely into one of their Cloud software categories .

This presents a real potential danger to organizations who could be fooled by software vendors. Don't let it happen to you.

Unfortunately this report is only currently available to Gartner subscribers, so I'm unable to give you a link to the full report. I will attempt to summarize what is in this report to provide some context for this discussion.
iPaaS CEIP report

Is iPaaS Bad?

I'm definitely not anti-iPaaS. Quite the opposite. Gartner's series of iPaaS reports is great as a broad prediction of future integration market trends - but organizations should not take this framework as an evaluation matrix for existing (or even near-future) technologies. A significant percentage of what is discussed in these reports is future-tripping.

Instead, organizations should focus on their existing needs, and how existing products meet those needs.

iPaaS Isn't Bad - But the Reports are Confusing

My biggest criticism of these reports is that they are confusing to people. Future and current capabilities are jumbled up; technology categories serving very different purposes are linked together, and the reports lack focus on helping people make decisions - based on what exists today.

They present a bewildering array of options (not all of which are available to organizations, many which will not be available for a long time) and then just leave people potentially hanging in a state of confusion.

The purpose of my two previous articles on iPaaS: "Where Do I Buy Gartner Research's iPaaS? Cloud Integration Confusion", and "Damn the Gartner iPaaS, Full Speed Ahead on Cloud Integration" were to re-focus organizations back on the pragmatic topic of how to be successful with SaaS and Cloud Integration.

And to portray the Gartner iPaaS reports in what I consider to be (in my educated opinion) their proper light: a prediction for the future - not a roadmap of existing or even near-future technology.

The Latest iPaaS Report: Distributed iPaaS

In a similar light, the latest iPaaS report about "flexible deployment options" is interesting as a prediction of future possibilities.

It reviews how iPaaS stacks have the potential to be deployed on Public Clouds, or on Private Clouds. It also introduces two "hybrid" iPaaS models -

• one where development and management is done on the Public Cloud, but the actual "integration work" is done on a Private Cloud;
• the second where the "integration work" would be done on the Public Cloud for SaaS/Public Cloud data and applications, and on the Private Cloud for On-Prem data and applications (and presumably there is some mechanism for bringing all that together)

This is all grand, and I approve of this vision. It represents an Integration iPaaS nirvana. Develop anywhere, deploy anywhere - some sort of magic fabric that connects everything.

This will happen at some point - I guarantee it. I'm in total agreement with Gartner Research on that.

But don't expect to go buying all that from any one vendor today. And unless you want to engage in a lot of custom development effort and be one of the first people on the planet to attempt such a thing, don't plan on attempting such an ambitious project.

Let's be pragmatic about this - there are ONLY two topologies that exist with any level of maturity right now:

1) Old fashioned On-Premises Integration Stacks
2) Develop and Deploy on Public Cloud Integration Stacks

The other options lack maturity and breadth of solutions - to the extent that they exist at all. So it makes no sense to recommend that organizations look into them for the time being. Especially avoid complicated scenarios.

Taking Exception to One Big Thing in the iPaaS Report

There is one area in this report that I will take issue with. Much of the iPaaS Reports contain what I believe to be an overly aggressive prediction of the future; however, in this one area - I believe there is the possibility of danger to the organization.

And that's the loophole in this latest iPaaS report that's big enough to drive an instance of SAP R/3 through - with possibly room to spare for a copy of Siebel On-Prem. The "loophole" allows software vendors to package up and market creaky 30 year old technology with none of the benefits of modern SaaS and Cloud solutions as a "Cloud-Enabled Integration Platform" (CEIP) or Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS).iPaaS CEIP

It's not practical for me to quote the report; so I'll have to paraphrase. But if you have the report (or access to a friend who will let you have access to a report in a way that is consistent with Gartner Research's policies) and you go to page 6, about halfway down, it implies how an iPaaS doesn't have to be multi-tenant, elastic, or scalable if it's deployed in a private cloud.

Having worked for about a dozen different software vendors, I can tell that there are a host of On-Prem integration vendors who will take this as an opportunity to start talking about their iPaaS product - even if it's just essentially the same ancient On-Prem product that they've been selling in one form or another for a few decades.

This gives them the opportunity to call ANYTHING that they can get running on a Cloud Stack "iPaaS" or CEIP - "like in the Gartner Report" (I can hear them saying it already).

These old On-Prem Integration stacks are the same products that have given Integration a bad name for decades - as being expensive, overly complex, difficult to manage, maintain and deploy, brittle - and have development cycles measured in months and months (and months).

Regrettably, I can't in the space of one article address my issues with the latest iPaaS report AND ALSO tell you how to distinguish the real iPaaS products from the counterfeit ones.

I have it on my "list of things to do" to write an article to help organizations answer the "real or fake" question. For now - if it's not multi-tenant, if it's not elastic, if it's not scalable, if it doesn't have modern tools for development and management (i.e. it looks more like Windows 3.1 than Browser) then it's not the real deal, and you should stay away from it unless you have some compelling need (i.e. the real iPaaS solutions can't address your needs for some reason).

In the meanwhile, one article that is well worth reading is: "If It's Not MultiTenant, It's Not Really SaaS"

My best wishes for your pragmatic Cloud Integration.

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This blog offers an informed and informative perspective on the ongoing explosion of data and the technologies used to turn this data explosion into assets and competitive advantages.

Hollis Tibbetts

Hollis Tibbetts, or @SoftwareHollis as his 50,000+ followers know him on Twitter, is listed on various “top 100 expert lists” for a variety of topics – ranging from Cloud to Technology Marketing, Hollis is by day Evangelist & Software Technology Director at Dell's Global Software Group. By night and weekends he is a commentator, speaker and all-round communicator about Software, Data and Cloud in their myriad aspects. His latest communication venture is http://OnlineBackupNews.com - a free resource site to help organizations protect their data, applications and systems by providing online backup best practices, technology insights, strategies, real-world examples and various tips and techniques from a variety of industry experts.

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