What Is iPaaS?

Michael Chen | Content Strategist | March 21, 2024

In This Article

iPaaS stands for integration platform as a service and refers to cloud-based connectors that enable communication among applications, databases and other data sources, and a variety of business systems. iPaaS platforms typically offer a range of connectors and adapters that use APIs to establish these links. With iPaaS, companies can synchronize data among supported applications, regardless of underlying technologies or platforms.

For developers, iPaaS tools simplify integration and reduce the need for extensive custom coding. Organizations can use a third-party tool for application-to-application connectivity, freeing their own IT teams to focus on higher-level tasks.

The primary benefit of iPaaS is automated data connectivity. iPaaS tools can connect cloud-based, custom or legacy, and on-premises applications and their associated databases in a way that makes sense for the business—an ERP to a marketing suite and a sales dashboard to a business intelligence and analytics suite and so on. With iPaaS, data generated by an Internet of Things device in a remote location could be accessed by a cloud-based logging tool and monitored via a custom dashboard on a staff member’s home network on the other side of the country. iPaaS creates an integration layer between endpoints.

The acronym iPaaS is very similar to PaaS (platform as a service), but the two are different. PaaS refers to cloud-accessible platforms that provide dev teams with the project tools needed to successfully complete the application development and deployment cycle. In the case of iPaaS, instead of helping develop applications, like in PaaS, the focus is on connecting data from different sources.

What Is iPaaS?

An integration platform as a service (iPaaS) is a set of cloud-based services used to link applications, data sources, processes, and systems, whether they’re homegrown or commercially licensed and whether they run in an on-premises data center, at a remote site, or in the cloud. iPaaS can enable integrations among systems within a network or across multiple organizations.

The following are just a handful of use case examples showcasing the value of iPaaS:

  • Prolonging the life of software: Your organization may need to provide access to data generated by legacy applications. With iPaaS, it’s possible to build a bridge between that older system’s database and your modern data repositories. Through a combination of connectors, APIs, and custom development, iPaaS can help maintain the usefulness of legacy applications.
  • Connecting applications from different vendors: With iPaaS, cloud-based applications can open channels of communication to share data, no matter the platform provider. This allows for collaboration among departments while creating a greater level of transparency within the organization.
  • Easing extract, transform, load (ETL) operations: Instead of installing individual ETL tools, iPaaS can act as an ETL layer, moving data into repositories with fewer steps. This both streamlines the overall process and reduces the number of data access points—and by extension, security risk.
  • Adding automation: For organizations that want to increase automation, many iPaaS tools offer easy-to-use visual workflows that enable users to design and implement automation systems and ease integration with existing business software.

Choosing an iPaaS vendor

When selecting an iPaaS provider, ask about its security measures, such as encryption, access controls, certifications, and audits. Make sure there are authentication and authorization measures in place in the systems you’re connecting and monitor and log iPaaS activity to detect any suspicious or unauthorized access.

Ultimately, iPaaS can be an effective tool for streamlining business processes, increasing collaboration, and enhancing use of your data.

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iPaaS FAQs

What is an iPaaS system?

Integration platform as a service, also known as iPaaS, refers to cloud-based tools that provide enterprises with integrations among applications, devices, and databases. An iPaaS system provides a central hub where diverse software applications can communicate and share data. The platform provides connectors and APIs that allow businesses to easily share data and services between popular software applications, such as ERP and BI systems. An iPaaS can support automation, provide monitoring, and deliver management tools that allow developers to track the performance and usage of integrations.

What is an example of iPaaS?

An iPaaS system acts as a connectivity layer between applications. For example, an organization may want to connect its HR, manufacturing, and ERP applications to share data for a clearer view of finance and operations. Through the iPaaS layer and with appropriate authentication and access control, these systems can all access the others’ data for greater insights for stakeholders.

What is the difference between iPaaS and SaaS?

SaaS refers to software as a service, which is simply a cloud-based application that is sold as a subscription. An iPaaS system is most often sold in a SaaS model and used to connect SaaS applications with one another, along with on-premises and legacy applications.

What is the difference between iPaaS and ETL?

ETL stands for extract, transform, and load, which is a standard process in the realm of data integration—specifically, extracting data from a source, transforming it into a clean and compatible format, and then loading it into a repository. iPaaS can absorb ETL functionality by connecting applications, databases, devices, and repositories to expedite the data integration process. With iPaaS, applications can directly share data or automate loading it into a repository.