Enterprise Integration Platform as a Service (EiPaaS) Defined

Alan Zeichick | Content Strategist | October 18, 2023

Your organization has many applications and data sources, and those business resources need to work with each other. Perhaps a sales platform needs to interoperate with an inventory system, a product configurator, and a billing system. Or different business units in your organization use separate, large-scale enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that have overlapping functionality and need synchronization and orchestration to carry out business processes.

As these examples show, companies very often need to stitch together multiple applications to deliver the data needed to make complicated business operations work and to automate and improve those operations using event-driven applications. An enterprise integration platform as a service (EiPaaS) can help companies make those connections. And perhaps most importantly, an EiPaaS can help business leads and developers deliver projects faster, letting them create those connections quickly while keeping operational overhead low.

Why is fast and effective integration like this essential? To put it simply, today’s organizations live in a world of more—more data, applications, services, and users. Instead of businesses getting bogged down by all their data, they can see the amount of data, and the diversity of applications and services they run, as opportunities. With speedy and efficient integration, sufficient compute and storage capacity, and the right developer tools and prebuilt interfaces, including no-code and low-code interfaces for rapid development, organizations can use EiPaaS to connect applications, data, and services in support of event-driven applications and powerful analytics.

What Is Enterprise Integration Platform as a Service (EiPaaS)?

An enterprise integration platform as a service (EiPaaS) is a set of cloud-based services used to link together many of a company’s applications, data, and services—whether they’re homegrown or commercially licensed and whether they run in an on-premises data center or in the cloud. It can even integrate applications, data, and services offered by an organization’s partners and suppliers—and if those external platforms aren’t directly compatible, help by transforming data, in real time, as needed. EiPaaS supports the development, operation, and governance of these integrations.

Breaking down the definition of EiPaaS: Enterprise integration refers to all the services, including prebuilt connectors, visualization, execution, governance, and development tools needed to connect applications, data, and services. Platform as a service (PaaS) means that these are vendor-managed services are running in the cloud; iPaaS is the subset of PaaS that developers use to accelerate app connections and extensions. The lexicon is changing to drop the word “enterprise,” so that some people refer to EiPaaS as just iPaaS.

An EiPaaS can connect diverse back- and front-office systems, such as payroll, tax services, finance, inventory, order management billing, human resources, and customer management, for the purposes of efficiency and productivity. The automation and orchestration capabilities of an EiPaaS can facilitate complex, multistep business operations. Important capabilities include moving data in batches or streams, creating and managing API endpoints, transforming and preparing data when needed, and supporting queries that pull from multiple data sources. Integration platforms also can help companies working to embrace artificial intelligence (AI) services, supporting the introduction of conversational AI and models for functions such as vision or document recognition.

Enterprise Integration Platform as a Service (EiPaaS)  diagram
EiPaaS links a wide variety of applications and data sources, both internal and external to the organization, using automation and connectors.

Key Takeaways

  • Enterprise integration links an organization’s applications, data sources, services, and partner network together to help business operations run more effectively.
  • A cloud-based enterprise integration platform can be more flexible, scalable, and available than integration platforms in an on-premises data center.
  • Prebuilt application connectors allow for speedy integration with less code for a wide range of applications, even those from different vendors or service providers.
  • Enterprise integration platforms can facilitate process automation, often using standardized prebuilt recipes that can be tailored for specific business needs.

EiPaaS Explained

Enterprise integration (EI), also known as application integration, is the umbrella term for making disparate software systems work with each other using one connectivity system. The integration platform provides the development environment, including prebuilt integrations, to let various applications talk with each other, providing communications, data transformations and transfers, reliability, and scalability. In addition, enterprise integration platforms offer programmable orchestration of complex multistep transactions that use many different software systems; the orchestration allows developers to create a connected ecosystem with robust rules for handling unexpected issues, full logging of each successful or failed step in the transaction, and flexibility to adapt to changing business conditions. Providing all that enables complex transactions far beyond what any single application can do.

Historically, EI was dedicated software in an organization’s data center. The trend today is to run data integration in the cloud (called iPaaS, for integration platform as a service, or EiPaaS, for enterprise integration platform as a service), so that it can reach into the enterprise’s on-premises and cloud applications. The integration PaaS itself can also be accessed by authorized business users with a secure internet connection, no matter where they are—in the office, at home, or at a customer site.

How Does EiPaaS Work?

Enterprise integration is a fairly straightforward concept: An organization has a number of applications, databases, and services. Some of them expose their functionality via application programming interfaces (APIs), but many do not, and instead they require prebuilt adapters or extensible off-the-shelf integration recipes. Some of those applications run in the cloud; others reside in on-premises data centers. Those applications can be off-the-shelf commercial offerings, and others might be homegrown. That’s where the EI platform comes in—to take care of the API management, or otherwise arranging for the transfer of relevant data and metadata between applications, no matter what architectures or supporting infrastructure are in use. EiPaaS runs that platform from the cloud as a service.

In this approach to the integration challenge, the EI platform is configured to know about all those applications and databases, and it has the proper secured access to those applications’ APIs. The EI platform can then respond to actions originating within one of those applications—such as a customer order or inventory replenishment—to cause appropriate actions to happen in the other applications. To meet integration requirements, the EI platform uses its internal logic and programmed workflow, as well as information about those applications’ APIs, data formats, and messaging formats, to ensure that all the actions needed to execute a task can happen with minimal delay, while avoiding costly errors.

Using an EI platform in the cloud—that is, using EiPaaS—ensures that the EI platform itself is scalable and up to date, with the benefit of ensuring that it has access to all the APIs of the organization’s cloud-based and on-premises applications. If demand for the EiPaaS increases, such as a rash of API calls from an application, the cloud provider should be able to automatically add computing capacity so that the platform meets that request without slowing down. Assuming the EiPaaS platform contains well-built adapters and integrations—and those adapters and integrations are supported and extensible—they will continue to perform even when the individual applications and other endpoints upgrade. Compared to a data center–based EI platform, a cloud-based EiPaaS is easier for employees to access and enables easier secure integration with partners and suppliers.

Why Is EiPaaS Important for Businesses?

Companies today rely on many applications, not only for transaction processing and service delivery but also for financials and auditing, analytics, customer experience, human capital management, security oversight, content management, and more. To get something done, it almost always takes information from more than one of those applications. Both business leaders and developers face pressure to deliver these projects more quickly, while holding down costs, which means they need an efficient and reliable way to build those application and data connections.

Not only do even the simplest business processes require operating data from different sources, but many business and workflow processes also often require complicated chains of carefully sequenced actions: “IF this happens, THEN do this. IF the action is successful, do this BUT if something goes wrong (such as customer payment is delayed or the item is backordered) THEN do this other thing instead.” By providing the data needed to orchestrate these steps, EiPaaS can help commerce move forward by following the proper processes. However, rules-based orchestration such as this has been around for years, and it’s only the start. Businesses are going beyond rules-based logic to invest in projects to support dynamic, data-driven, and event-driven process flows—ones that are aware of a larger business context, not just their narrow function. Delivering those projects relies on the broad capabilities of EiPaaS.

Without such orchestration, employees may need to conduct each step manually, which can lead to errors if they don’t take actions properly, or delays if no employee sees or acts on a notification right away. In today’s instant-satisfaction, ecommerce world, delays can cause customer dissatisfaction, reduced efficiency, and missed opportunities to complete a transaction or resolve a problem. The benefits of orchestration can be realized even for smaller organizations; the real drivers are the number of steps in a business process and the number of applications that are touched by all those steps. Or, to put it in other terms: EiPaaS lays the foundation for simpler, more engaging self-service interactions between people, applications, and data across the organization.

Benefits of EiPaaS

There are many benefits of cloud-based enterprise integration platform as a service (EiPaaS) to an organization, including the following:

  • Faster time to delivery. Low-code and no-code tools, along with prebuilt adapters, recipes, and templates, can bring integrations online 4X to 6X faster than non-EiPaaS integrations.
  • Hub-and-spoke access to enterprise applications. If an application can link to the EiPaaS platform with connectors and APIs, it can work with every other integrated enterprise.
  • Avoids a proliferation of point-to-point integrations. Without an EiPaaS, each application must communicate with every other application, which is incredibly difficult to set up, challenging to use, and expensive to maintain when there are dozens or hundreds of applications to be integrated.
  • Unified security model. The EiPaaS platform maintains a list of authorized users and applications and can enforce access rules from a single control point.
  • Comprehensive logging. Because all communications between applications is facilitated by the EiPaaS, transaction logs are complete, thereby creating an audit trail.
  • Business process analytics. Because the EiPaaS platform is involved in orchestrating complex transactions, it can be tapped as a source for operating data to train AI and machine learning algorithms that generate insights for line-of-business managers and executives.
  • Scalable and reliable. Because EiPaaS runs in the cloud, it’s freed from the constraints of an enterprise on-premises data center, letting the platform scale up as needed and scale down during slower business periods. The company also doesn’t need to hire staff to run the infrastructure supporting the EiPaaS.
  • Changes in minutes, not months. The ability to iterate with smaller, immediate releases drives value in business-IT working relationships and builds the agility today’s businesses need.

Features of EiPaaS

A full-featured, vendor-managed enterprise integration platform in the cloud—EiPaaS—contains most or all of these key features or capabilities.

  • Ability to discover applications, data, and services. EiPaaS toolchains can facilitate discovery and task/process mining to surface an organization’s assets—in some cases, finding hidden resources that could offer considerable value to the organization.
  • Creation of services drawing on a wide variety of applications. EiPaaS should be able to create services that draw on a mix of an organization’s critical applications, such as enterprise resource planning, enterprise performance management, human resource management, supply chain, and customer experience systems, as well as more niche applications, data sources, and even homegrown software. If needed, an EiPaaS can also integrate with legacy applications using screen scraping or emulation of a user session via a browser interface.
  • A large set of prebuilt connectors. Connectors provide the integration point into an organization’s applications by knowing their APIs, messaging formats, data formats, and security protocols. Prebuilt connectors let developers bring in new apps or databases faster, whether they’re in a public cloud, on-premises, or a hybrid environment. They also increase reliability. Once the connector is up and running, the enterprise application is integrated.
  • Understanding and integration of a wide variety of data types. Not all of an organization’s data is in a neatly structured database. An EiPaaS can not only work with data in databases, data warehouses, and data lakes, but it can also work with sources such as scanned documents, emails and messages, and file attachments using intelligent document processing.
  • Prebuilt integrations for business processes. Such integrations enable complex, multistep tasks that touch multiple enterprise applications, such as updating inventory, executing transactions, invoicing customers, and updating financials. Prebuilt workflows can be used right out the box to help orchestrate critical business processes. When a prebuilt option can’t do the trick, it’s often easier to adapt it for a specific need, instead of writing a workflow from scratch.
  • Data consistency and change notification. An EiPaaS platform can monitor applications, data sources, and services for changes—sometimes by being notified directly about the change and sometimes monitoring for those changes remotely. Once a change has been discovered, the EiPaaS platform will automatically push out those changes across other applications, data sources, and services, thereby keeping everything in sync.
  • Real-time dashboards. Many organizations use stand-alone analytics software to monitor their business processes and find patterns that might lead to business problems. The data used by that analytics software needs to be exported from those applications to provide a relevant view of the business. Instead, an EiPaaS that contains built-in dashboard capabilities can deliver insights directly in an application or workflow.
  • Powerful developer tools. Configuring an EiPaaS platform to your company’s specific needs is facilitated with low-code, visual tools that let developers, business managers, and other technology users collaborate on integration projects. EiPaaS tools also help teams test, deploy, and monitor their integrations.

Role of EiPaaS in Enterprise Architecture

Enterprise architecture represents a view across an entire organization of the applications, data, infrastructure, integrations, business services, processes and workflows, compliance systems, and security framework needed to run business operations. Those views can help the organization innovate new ways to make them better. Central to a successful enterprise architecture is a solid understanding of the applications being used, the data that drives those applications, and the way those work together in business operations to respond to changing marketing conditions and new business strategies.

Experience the Benefits of EiPaaS with Oracle

Enterprise integration platform as a service (EiPaaS) leverages the cloud to synchronize applications, data, and partner ecosystems by orchestrating complex integrations and automating business processes using APIs, messaging, and secure file transfers.

Oracle Integration provides a cloud-based enterprise integration and automation platform that helps developers quickly extend and connect applications, services, and data sources. Analysts have recognized Oracle Integration as a leader among iPaaS providers. As part of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) integration services Oracle Integration offers hundreds of prebuilt application and data integrations with a low-code developer experience for event-based process automation and SaaS extensions. With OCI API management, event streaming, and other application development services, Oracle Integration helps companies deliver projects faster with less code while simplifying operations.

Oracle Integration supports many non-Oracle systems, in the cloud and on-premises, including applications and services from Amazon Web Services, Google, IBM, Microsoft, SAP, Workday, and more. As of 2023, it included prebuilt connectors and integration capabilities that have helped companies connect more than 100 Oracle Cloud services; thousands of cloud, multicloud, and hybrid applications; and hundreds of on-premises applications.

The service includes business accelerators, which are extensible, Oracle-supported recipes that leverage all Oracle Integration capabilities. Having prebuilt adapters and accelerators that are supported and customer extensions that are protected during upgrades reduces or eliminates rework and testing headaches. OCI integration services help companies pursue a distributed cloud strategy—using the right deployment model for the job, delivering the full cloud experience wherever they need it—while improving data visibility, process reliability, and time to value.

Learn why Oracle was recognized as a Leader in the Magic Quadrant™ for iPaaS, Worldwide for the sixth consecutive time.

EiPaaS FAQs

How is EiPaaS different from enterprise integration?

A standard enterprise integration system runs in a business’s data center. By contrast, enterprise integration platform as a service (EiPaaS) runs in the cloud.

How do enterprise applications communicate with an integration platform?

Enterprise integration platforms use APIs, connectors, and secure file transfers to link enterprise applications, databases, and other data sources. In some cases, data and instructions are sent via APIs using clearly defined messages and standardized data formats. In others, the integration platform extracts data from one application or database, transforms the data, and then loads it into another application.

What if enterprise applications use different formats or definitions for their data?

Leading enterprise integration platforms offer connectors to link applications together and transform data between formats as required. Many of these connectors also include APIs for direct programmatic access to the data transformation functions, including secure file transfers, data enrichment, and data validation.

Can enterprise integration platforms handle complex events and workflows?

Enterprise integration platforms can orchestrate complex, event-driven, and service-integrated workflows using visual developer tools. The workflows can be driven by events, metrics, or other business requirements.

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