This article looks at how an iPaaS can iron out some of the issues with a multi-cloud strategy while also relativizing the risk of vendor lock-in when integrating SaaS. When developing a multi-cloud strategy, there are many issues which intertwine. Looking at the strategy from all angles makes it easier to weigh up the pros and cons and provides helpful decision-making criteria for planning your cloud integration.
iPaaS makes it easier to implement a multi-cloud strategy
By using an iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service), cloud services from multiple providers can be connected cleanly and strongly. Monitoring and coordination can be done via a central portal with easy-to-use controls. Modern and effective cloud integration is thus enabled by iPaaS-supported multi-cloud management.
The iPaaS provider hosts all the connections and monitoring tools in the cloud. No data center or data center infrastructure is required, and neither is an operating system or dedicated database. Essentially, an iPaaS is a form of middleware as a service that is already implemented in the cloud. This means that you don’t need to spend time, money and effort on monitoring, troubleshooting or performing release upgrades. Those are huge advantages compared to a traditional on-premises integration model.
A further advantage is that the order created by using an iPaas gives you a better overview of your various products. This may well reveal that some of the cloud services or SaaS solutions you are using overlap and can therefore be eliminated. This is particularly true if your company has extensive shadow IT. Any shadow IT can also be effectively integrated with the help of the iPaaS and superfluous functions identified and removed.
Furthermore, iPaaS-supported cloud integration improves both security and compatibility. Many iPaaS providers also include basic multi-cloud API management. This makes it possible, for example, to set up individual authentication for the multi-cloud services via an API gateway or to more easily manage access authorization for the various users working with these multi-cloud services.
A positive side effect is that now iPaaS has made everything work nice and smoothly, it’s easier to convince the company to adopt further cloud or SaaS services.
How a multi-cloud strategy based on iPaaS protects against vendor lock-in by SaaS providers
Many organisations are concerned about vendor lock-in when deciding on a particular software or IT provider. Here, the economic principle applies: the more standardized a service is, the easier it is to compare with other, similar services. And the easier it is to replace it with corresponding offerings from competitors.
Most SaaS services are highly standardized. The risk of lock-in is therefore essentially reduced to the difficulty of smoothly migrating data from the old SaaS provider’s applications to a new SaaS provider. This can indeed by difficult if the old SaaS provider does not provide migration tools or does not support appropriate industry standards that facilitate data migration. Customers willing to switch are then faced with the challenge of either moving their application data back on-premises or converting it to a data format supported by the new SaaS provider and uploading it to the new SaaS provider.
As part of a multi-cloud strategy, a company can often minimize or even prevent the difficulties described above by, for example, ensuring from the outset that their future SaaS provider offers sufficient migration support. If there are several similar and highly standardized SaaS offerings to choose from on the market, as in the case of software for customer support for instance, this is a more feasible task.
Why vendor lock-in is not a problem at iPaaS level
iPaaS services differ from generally highly standardized SaaS offerings in several ways. Since iPaaS services are generally much more individualized and complicated, they cannot simply be replaced by corresponding offerings from competitors. What’s more, with increasing complexity and customization of a service, other priorities – such as reliability of the (individualized) service, expert advice and support – become more important to customers. Many of the disadvantages usually associated with provider lock-in are thus put into perspective.
iPaaS customers should therefore focus on building a long-term relationship with their iPaaS provider from the outset. This is particularly important as many of the recommendations given to reduce the risk of vendor lock-in are not feasible for iPaaS. For example, the frequent recommendation to regularly change providers or to maintain a complete fall-back solution is difficult to implement for iPaaS services and is usually uneconomical.
Therefore, when selecting an iPaaS provider in a corporate context, instead of focusing on avoiding the risk of vendor lock-in, it makes more sense to pay more attention to the following three points:
- The iPaaS provider should be economically sound and able to reliably provide services for the foreseeable future.
- Focus should be on the professional advice and support offered, which should be of the highest standard.
- The vendor’s portfolio of iPaaS services should be of high quality and regularly expanded to meet the needs of the customer’s business as they arise.
Furthermore, with regard to the above points, it would be helpful to include the following aspects in the decision:
- A very large iPaaS provider whose services are designed for volume rather than customization can be just as unsuitable as a small iPaaS provider which lacks a long-term foundation for economic development.
Would you like to learn more about iPaaS? Look in our iPaaS blog section for further articles on this topic. It’ll be time well spent!
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Written by: Dr. Martin KuntzDr. Martin Kuntz has worked for SEEBURGER AG since 2000, and is a member of the Board of Directors since 2015. His strengths lie in the Cloud, business applications, and the digitalization of specialty and technical business processes. He has degrees in physics and business administration. Earlier, he worked for several years in the Simulation department of the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology and for Airbus subsidiary Airbus Defence and Space.