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2/19/2014
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Meet iPaaS: Gartner Ranks New Cloud Service Pioneers

Gartner creates new cloud category -- integration platform-as-a-service -- and starts tracking a new class of service providers.

Integration platform-as-a-service is a term that has been growing up behind the scenes by those with a passion for achieving integration in the cloud. But the phrase has come of age and is ready for wider circulation. We can tell because it's got its own Gartner Magic Quadrant.

Even more impressive, its debut event has a cast of 17 players. Some of them you will recognize as graybeards: IBM, SAP, Informatica, and Tibco. Some are younger talents: MuleSoft, SnapLogic, Boomi, Jitterbit, and Attunity. And others are still relative unknowns: Vigience, E2E Technologies, Flowgear, and Skyvva.

They are united by a common purpose of doing in the cloud what used to inevitably be done on-premises, linking one application to another with point-to-point communications through a tailored connector or adapter. Connectors and adapters were complex pieces of software that knew a lot about the sending system and receiving system. They knew how to process the data enroute so that it arrived in a format that was useful to the receiving application. They were eventually built into enterprise service buses and other middleware that did the same thing, only on a larger scale.

Connectors and adapters were useful enough to command prices of $12,000 or $15,000 a piece in the legacy packaged software market. They eventually were tied to enterprise service buses and other middleware, increasing their usefulness within the enterprise. iPaaS wants to do the same thing at a lower price and in such a way that makes integration available between enterprises and public clouds, between clouds, and between enterprises using clouds.

[Want to learn more about how SAP is moving into cloud services? See SAP Doubles Down On Cloud Computing.]

The Gartner report, Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Integration Platform as a Service, its first on the iPaaS category, was issued January 27 and contains a neat summary of the emergence of integration platforms in the cloud:

"iPaaS offerings emerged six or seven years ago, primarily to support data synchronization between on-premises systems (SAP ERP, Oracle E-Business Suite, JD Edwards) and the early examples of SaaS offerings (predominantly Salesforce.com). At that time, SaaS users primarily were SMBs with minimal experience in integration technology and even less interest or budget to invest in building such skills. To appeal to this market, the iPaaS pioneers -- Boomi (now Dell), Cast Iron Systems (now IBM), Informatica, Jitterbit and Pervasive Software (now Actian) -- focused their offerings on ease of use and minimal coding."

The integration platforms allowed small businesses to achieve integration without a big investment in skills or licensed middleware software. But such platforms proved useful to many different types and sizes of users. Boomi, Cast Iron, and the others created hubs in the cloud that could be accessed through a standard web services protocols. What used to be a large task, undertaken by each enterprise, became a specialized service, whose integrations could be spread across many different enterprises. If iPaaS was once oriented toward small and medium business, it has matured into a type of service useful for large companies as well.

iPaaS is "poised to grow dramatically" over the next five years due to the continued integration needs of small business, which continues to refuse to embrace integration middleware because of "its high cost and complexity"; the increasing adoption of agile development, which often taps into software as a service; the increasing use of public facing APIs by companies; and the need to integrate with various devices now part of the Internet of Things, the Garter report said.

IPaaS is "inevitably on a collision course with traditional, on-premises integration middleware." Each will have their champions over the next 3 to 5 years, and tensions within user organizations will gradually be resolved, Gartner predicted, by the emergence of hybrid platforms that make use of both on-premises integration and cloud services.

Gartner lists Dell Boomi and Informatica in the center of its Leaders quadrant, with Boomi having an edge. Below them is MuleSoft, the open-source firm that started out supplying a lightweight enterprise service bus to financial services firms.

In the Challengers quadrant are Fujitsu and Actian, with Actian having the edge. In the Visionaries quadrant are SnapLogic, SAP, and IBM, with IBM having the edge. And in the Niche Players quadrant are Terrasky, Skyvaa, Jitterbit, Flowgear, Vigiece, Attunity, NEC, Tibco, and E2E Technologies. Missing are any integration software suppliers who don't have a public cloud service. There are still several companies that produce software for on-premises installation.

IPaaS services will come from established middleware vendors and SaaS providers, looking to expand revenues from their customer base. It will also come from statups, the report predicts. Here are a few examples of the companies currently supplying iPaaS.

Actian
Privately-held Actian is an assembly of database companies that includes Versant, Ingres, and Par Accel and a big data analytics platform, giving it a large, potential customer base for data integration. Its DataCloud runs on Amazon Web Services, with prepackaged data integration services. DataCloud came to Actian with the acquisition for $162 million of Pervasive Software in April 2013. Pervasive was known for its command of high-speed data throughput between dissimilar databases, applications, and other data sources. DataCloud incorporates that capability.

The Pervasive acquisition also brought with it 2,000 data integration customers. Through DataCloud, Actian customers may now integrate data on-premises, in the cloud, or in a combined cloud and on-premises manner. DataCloud manages, routes, and restructures data as needed from multiple data sources to applications or other data repositories.

Gartner predicts DataCloud will appeal to cloud developers who need to generate data from a shifting set of resources in a dynamic manner, as requests occur. DataCloud may prove to be a hub of

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Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek, having joined the publication in 2003. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse ... View Full Bio

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Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
2/19/2014 | 12:44:49 PM
15 subcategories?
Gartner's report actually named 15 subcategories of iPaaS after establishing it as a cloud category. Ah, we didn't go there.
Stratustician
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
2/22/2014 | 1:23:17 PM
It makes sense...
I wonder if we will see more of these integration services as the complexity of cloud becomes a more visible barrier to adoption.  This is particularly important for small organizations who just can't wrap their head around how to leverage a cloud environment, and who don't have the skills to do it themselves.  It's also a great way to get around the capital requirements associated with connecting to an environment, especially if you've got a complex ERP or other application driven environment.  Not so good news for professional services tied to environment migration perhaps.

Then again, adding more acronyms to the mix is undoubtedly continue to make it all seem more complex to customers.
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