Overcoming key integration Platform-as-a-Service implementation challenges

- Sudhir Rao

Organizations today are confronted with challenges arising from the growing number of applications and managing the volume of data being generated across cloud and on-premise environments.

According to Gartner, poor application integration is a top factor behind failed transformation projects. Nearly 90% of the companies surveyed by IDG and Team Dynamix report that they face data integration backlogs while 74% companies admit do not have the resources to manage the workload.

Integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) is a hybrid, cloud-based platform model that offers a solution by automating applications on-site to the cloud and within cloud environments.

iPaaS promises a range of benefits—centralized work areas, scalability, ease of use, enhanced security, a unified customer experience, faster time to market, and IT simplification. However, the implementation of an iPaaS is a strategic task that needs careful planning, informed decision-making, and the right technical expertise.

Preparing the ground

Evaluating iPaaS needs: iPaaS is a versatile solution that performs tasks such as Internet of Things (IoT) integration, real-time data analytics, data migration, and the designing, automation, and improvement of workflows. However, it is crucial to evaluate individual integration needs in terms of tools and processes, architecture, services and Application Programming Interfaces (API), governance, and support and operations before implementing the iPaaS.

Selecting the right iPaaS partner: Some iPaaS systems are software-heavy and apt for large organizations, while others emphasize API integration and are better for smaller businesses. The smart approach is to choose an iPaaS partner based on their ‘ability to execute’ and ‘completeness of vision’ to meet specific business needs. The Gartner Magic Quadrant for iPaaS offers good insight on the evaluation criteria.

Selecting the right iPaaS platform: An ideal iPaaS platform is one that streamlines digital operations and involves an extensive evaluation of integration capabilities, scalability, security, and ease of use. A good starting point would be to engage with your iPaaS partner in an evaluation exercise to compare your requirements with the desired platform capabilities (microservices deployment, cloud support, event-driven architecture etc.) to determine the right iPaaS fit and make an informed selection.

Preparing stakeholders for iPaaS: The stakeholders buy-in is critical to ensuring success of your integration efforts. Onboard and educate stakeholders about the objectives and business value of iPaaS. Identify key individuals or teams who will play a role in the implementation and assign clear responsibilities. Address any concerns or resistance proactively and offer training and support to build the necessary skills. Conduct pilot projects to demonstrate iPaaS capabilities and define metrics to track progress

Cost, time, and training considerations

Factoring cost and time during implementation: As businesses expand, their integration needs are likely to grow. To reduce costs in the long run, consider an iPaaS solution that offers pre-built connectors, favourable licensing models, security mechanisms as well as the ability to build custom connectors, support different data formats, make real-time and batch data integrations, and handle large data volumes.

Managing applications post-integration: Ensure iPaaS stakeholders know how to manage applications post-integration. Plan for timely feedback from these users to help identify possible iPaaS implementation pain points such as inconsistent features, security issues, and platform limitations in managing applications. Offer mock training and real-time support for all users dependent on the integrated system.

Training citizen integrators to share integration load: Facilitate citizen integrators—non-technical team members such as marketing managers or customer support representatives—to use low-code or no-code applications to assist the IT team with integration tasks. Train them in best practices and guidelines around data security, governance, and the company’s business objectives. Untrained or unmonitored citizen integrators may build underperforming apps or cause security threats due to non-compliance.

Data management during implementation

Dealing with heterogeneous data models: While iPaaS seamlessly connects data and applications, a possible implementation hurdle is in integrating diverse data models. Hence, when using common data models is not an option during integration, opt for an iPaaS platform that offers data transformation and mapping and custom integration components for data translation.

Handling large volumes of data: The amount of data a business generates will directly impact the performance of its iPaaS system. Moreover, integration and migration during iPaaS implementation could result in a surge in data generation from different environments. To address issues around data latency, choose an iPaaS solution that provides incremental data loading and scalability features.

Resolving interoperability challenges: Success also depends on interoperability or how easily applications and data sources can communicate with one another. Plug-and-play solutions might lack interoperability; an iPaaS platform that automatically transforms data formats and evolves with newer technologies is the ideal choice.

Tackling security issues

Archiving data before implementation: While the lack of data backup is not an iPaaS implementation challenge, it is an important activity to ensure quick recovery if integration fails. A robust archiving and disaster recovery plan before integration also involves monitoring backup capabilities and checking regulatory and legal compliance at the physical locations of cloud providers.

Addressing data access and security threats: As a third-party and cloud-based platform, iPaaS is vulnerable to data leaks and cyberattacks. Opt for a solution that offers audit trails, access control, industry-standard data encryption, and compliance certifications such as Service Organization Control Type 2 (SOC 2), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

At Torry Harris, we understand the future of integration and how to maximize the potential of iPaaS. As integration specialists, we have deep expertise in iPaaS implementation and integration flows to enhance your business processes. Each implementation is guided by multiple considerations including our clients’ application landscape, technical environments, IT skills, and business needs.

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About the author

Sudhir Rao

Independent Consultant