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As computer networks grow, the need to share data across applications becomes a trickier problem. There have been a number of approaches to data integration over the years, but the continued sprawl of servers has forced engineers to look for better ways to tackle the problem. The latest approach is integration platform as a service.
Like its predecessors, the goal of iPaaS is to share data across disparate systems. The platforms enable organizations to build, execute and monitor data integration flows between various cloud and on-premises endpoints.
Evaluating iPaaS vendors
In addition to the standard vendor evaluation criteria, which include company reputation, pricing, documentation and support, here is a list of metrics to help you compare your best iPaaS software offerings:
- ease of use, including platform deployment and data integration creation and administration;
- comprehensive, intuitive interface and toolsets;
- cloud and on-premises installation options;
- number of prebuilt connectors -- examples include SaaS and on-premises applications, FTP, HTTP, Advanced Message Queuing Protocol, Open Data Protocol, Open Database Connectivity and databases;
- ability to easily build custom connectors and modify existing access mechanisms;
- support for different data formats, such as XML and JSON;
- both real-time and batch data integrations;
- ability to clean and transform data;
- performance when processing large data volumes and concurrent data integration executions;
- monitoring capabilities, including overall platform resource utilization and individual integration workflow performance and execution success/failure; and
- security mechanisms -- accounts and access controls, data encryption and the ability to interface with single sign-on applications.
Let's review some of the best iPaaS software offerings. Below are a few of the popular competitors that appear in many iPaaS comparisons.
In addition to personal experiences, this information comes from vendor documentation, industry discussion forums, TrustRadius and Gartner Peer Insights.
Informatica Intelligent Cloud Services (IICS)
Informatica is an industry heavyweight and iPaaS pioneer. Informatica describes its offering as an easy-to-navigate modular microservices platform for managing data across cloud, hybrid cloud and on-premises environments.
Gartner ranks Informatica as the industry leader in its 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise iPaaS. In addition, Informatica has led Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Data Integration Tools for 14 consecutive years.
The product received high marks for its ease of use, extensive functionality, large number of prebuilt integrations, flexibility and strong user community. Users have also given Informatica good reviews for industry experience, having a strong understanding of their needs and overall customer satisfaction.
In general, users feel that Informatica is more costly than its competitors and better suited to enterprise implementations. The majority of users' companies were categorized as large organizations.
Several users also described Informatica's error messages as hard to understand or cryptic.
Dell Boomi AtomSphere
Boomi is another iPaaS industry leader and one of the more experienced providers, having entered the market in 2000. Dell purchased Boomi in 2010. Boomi's platform consists of five components: integration, master data hub, B2B/electronic data interchange management, API management and flow.
Gartner ranked Boomi as a close second to Informatica in its 2019 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise iPaaS. Users felt strongly about the product's ease of use, giving it high marks in all areas.
In addition, the platform has received good reviews for its ability to connect to a wide range of environments, low-code/no-code integrations, strong user community and future direction.
Many users have expressed concerns about the vendor's pricing strategy and overall costs. Some users also feel that Boomi could improve customer support and the product's error reporting and troubleshooting capabilities.
MuleSoft was founded in 2006 and was purchased by Salesforce in 2018. The vendor is known for its strong capabilities and is commonly found on IPaaS vendor evaluation short lists.
MuleSoft received good reviews for its monitoring capabilities, wide range of prebuilt connectors, overall flexibility, API management, documentation, helpful user community and ease of setup.
Users have expressed concerns about the product's costs. There are lingering user community reservations about the Salesforce purchase and the product's future direction. Despite its good reviews for ease of setup, many users have described the product as being more technically challenging than competing offerings.
Jitterbit has been providing data integration products since 2003. Initially known for its use in small to midsize organizations, Jitterbit has gained traction in enterprise adoptions.
Unlike its competitors, Jitterbit received above-average marks from Gartner for its pricing and value-to-cost comparisons. In addition, users also give the product good reviews for customer service and support.
In general, Jitterbit ranked highly in all evaluation categories for Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Enterprise iPaaS. The vendor has received consistently high ratings from Gartner and Forrester and often outperforms other competitors on forums such as TrustRadius and Gartner Peer Insights.
The industry views Jitterbit's initial focus on small to midsize companies as a potential concern for larger enterprises. Most of the reviews found were from organizations that were classified as SMBs.