Which integration approach is right for me?

September 13, 2022
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Let me guess… you’re having some data connectivity issues?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, according to Mulesoft’s 2022 Connectivity Benchmark Report, 70% of organizations struggle to provide a connected user experience across their systems and channels. 

Today it’s common practice for organizations to use a huge variety of platforms, tools, and technologies to operate their business. But as your organization expands, you may become overwhelmed by all these disjointed tools that don’t speak to one another. 

Never fear, integrations are here — and this is exactly the type of challenges they solve. 

Which integration approach is right for you? 

Between point to point, Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS), middleware, and managed integrations, you would be forgiven for feeling a little confused.

So let’s start with some basics:

Why are software integrations important?

Software integrations are important to ensure all of your systems are working together to reduce manual entry, increase productivity, and improve data records. When your software is integrated, platforms can better communicate with each other and automations can run seamlessly which will optimize business operations and allow your team to work more effectively.  

What are the different integration approaches?

  1. Point to Point (most complex and time consuming): This involves the use of custom code to connect two apps together. The custom software and logic required to establish connections and exchange data is embedded within each individual application, tightly coupling them and driving up complexity.
  2. Middleware (scalable but can be costly): Middleware is a software that acts as a ‘middleman’ between two or more systems to help them communicate with one another. It aims to bridge diverse technologies, tools, and databases so that you can integrate them seamlessly into a single system. The single system then provides a unified service to its users. Some examples of middleware solutions include MuleSoft ESB, IBM WebSphere, and Oracle Fusion.
  3. Services (leaving it all to someone else): A services approach involves working with a cloud-based service to help you manage the connections between your applications and technologies. This could include an IPaaS or Managed Service Solutions such as Traction Propel.

iPaaS vs. managed integration

What is an Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS)?

Integration platform as a service (iPaaS) is a single, unified platform that helps with application and data integrations. iPaaS is technically a subset of middleware, but where middleware requires highly experienced integrations experts, iPaaS platforms utilize simplified UX/UI design to empower non-developers to manage their own integrations. 

With iPaaS, users can develop integration flows that connect applications residing in the cloud or on-premises and then deploy them without installing or managing any hardware. Popular iPaaS providers that you may be familiar with include MuleSoft, Dell Boomi, Workato, and Jitterbit

What is managed integration?

A managed integration service where you leave all the integration to experts. It’s a fully managed solution that helps you with everything from data strategy and planning, to infrastructure setup, maintenance, and integrations. 

It provides organizations with the resources of an experienced team, leaving your integration management up to the experts and freeing up resources for your internal team. Managed integration can be a more cost-friendly option that’s well suited to smaller and midsize organizations or those looking to modernize their systems without stretching internal resources or hiring an integration management team (IPaaS). 

Traction Propel is an example of a managed integration solution that enables organizations to focus on their business purpose, rather than manage their integration solution. 

What's the difference between managed integration and Integration Platform as a service (IPaaS)? 

Unlike an IPaaS solution, that only provides a cloud-hosted integration platform, managed integration solutions include:

  • Management of underlying (cloud-native) platform and associated costs 
  • The build/deployment of custom integration solutions
  • Managed security patching and maintenance of software updates 
  • Dedicated resourcing and ongoing support  

Pros and cons: which integration approach is right for you?

Point to point integration

Pros:

  • Good for single, simple integrations
  • Can be more affordable to implement
  • Can leverage out-of-the-box solutions

Cons:

  • It’s a rigid solution, only allowing data to go from A to B
  • Not scalable or future-proof
  • Requires a heavy lift from internal teams
  • It’s difficult to track

Our perspective: If you’re reading this article, point to point integration may be the reason for your data connectivity issues. It’s not something we would recommend, unless you have a very simple technology stack with very limited integration needs. 

Middleware integration & iPaaS

Pros:

  • Helps streamline processes, improve efficiency, and enable the flow of real-time information across various systems and technologies
  • Highly scalable and flexible, it will grow with your organizational needs
  • Empowers developers to better create different types of networked applications, creating a more connected employee and customer experience 

Cons:

  • Because of its prohibitively high costs, many organizations can not afford to maintain and grow the potential of middleware
  • Finding talent to manage your middleware is becoming increasingly difficult
  • In some cases, middleware can jeopardizes some systems’ real-time performance

Our perspective: Middleware and iPaaS is often a better option for enterprise level organizations due to the higher costs and internal team requirements. While it’s more costly, it does tick some boxes on the maturity and reliability spectrum. It also provides benefits surrounding the reduction of infrastructure and its daily management by leveraging cloud computing and hosting services.

Managed integration

Pros:

  • Same flexibility, scalability, and reliability of middleware and iPaaS
  • Lower cost and allows organizations to know the cost upfront
  • Relies on an external team for their expertise, meaning you don’t have to hire any additional team members or pull from your existing resources
  • Allows organizations to start off small and scale integration platforms as you grow 

Cons:

  • Not designed for those looking to solely utilize an in-house integration strategy 
  • Limited in-house integration team, as you’ll be primarily working with external support 

Our perspective: Managed integration is often a better option for small, midsize, and rapid growth organizations due to the lower associated costs and scalability. It’s also a great option for enterprise organizations, many of whom are struggling to find and retain integration experts. 

Why invest in a managed integration solution like Traction Propel?

A fully managed integration solution, Traction Propel accelerates an organization’s integration modernization, offers flexible paths forward (without the large upfront costs associated with a full re-platforming), and provides all the benefits of a fully managed service versus internally sourcing and managing highly specialized resources.

Skilled integrators are in high demand, using a managed integration service like Traction Propel leverages our integration expertise. Plus, with a managed integration, you’ll know all of your costs for integration management upfront rather than hiring an independent contractor or spreading your internal resources thin. 

Find out which integration approach is right for you.

Chat to one of our data experts today to see if Traction Propel might be a good fit for your organization.
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