The Convergence of API Management and iPaaS. Are you ready?

By Mark Geene in API Industry Trends Posted Dec 26, 2019

Should API management and iPaaS or ESBs really be separate platforms? Are the issues faced by today’s developers, IT Managers, Product Managers, and the like, such as managing and publishing your own APIs, really distinct from the issues faced in managing the services that you need to integrate with your application?
451 RESEARCH – ANALYST DEBRIEF
API management and IPAAS

An ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) or iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) approach is traditionally about connecting apps together, transforming data, and orchestration. This is different from API management, which puts a focus on publishing APIs, not connecting things. Should there be something in-between; is there an opportunity to converge platforms; wouldn’t fewer platforms be better?

Carl Lehmann, 451 Research Analyst for Enterprise Architecture, Integration, and Business Process Management, reports:

“CLOUD ELEMENTS MAY BE THE MISSING LINK BETWEEN IPAAS AND API MANAGEMENT.”

Before we dive in to compare the missing special sauce, let’s look at what exactly API management and integration management are:

API MANAGEMENTAPI Management

APIs (application programming interfaces) are the glue that connect apps and services. The need for API management has become more and more apparent as we encounter a proliferation of technologies being built on the cloud, built for mobile, or built to access via the cloud. API management, in its simplest form, is the process of publishing, securing, promoting, and overseeing APIs. API management services (top platforms include Apigee, Software AG, and IBM’s API Connect according to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant) are helping companies big and small with design, documentation, analytics, universal access, and general uptime.

“API management solutions are cool because they build an API wrapper around any protocol: JSON, SOAP, REST, XML, etc. And they go one step further to build a secure wrapper, providing a stronger platform for your app to rest on. Some will generate documentation and some will actually publish your code out on a platform altogether,” says Ross Garrett, Chief Product Officer at Cloud Elements. Garrett continues, “An open and accessible API is only as good as its design and ease of use. An API management platform really accelerates our practices around building apps with APIs that are consistent, clearly structured, and effectively documented.”

API management has become table stakes for IT, “following at the heels of IT’s rapidly growing dependency on mobile applications as a means for customers to shop and access a company’s goods and services,” says Charles Babcock, writer for InformationWeek.

INTEGRATION MANAGEMENT (iPaaS & ESB)

Integration Management - iPaaS and ESB

Integration Platforms as a Service (iPaaS) emerged 10-12 years ago as a suite of cloud services to enable the development, execution, and governance of integration flows. iPaaS services connect any combination of cloud and on-premise technologies within or across multiple organizations. They are generally the cloud-based alternative to middleware Enterprise Service Buses (ESBs). iPaaS is a point-to-point connectivity platform designed to allow technologists and end-users to manage their messy web of technologies and apps, both on-premise and in the cloud.

The category is making such an impact on the industry that Gartner created a new magic quadrant for iPaaS in early 2014. The current leaders in the category include Informatica, Boomi, Jitterbit, SnapLogic, and MuleSoft. These services all offer a solution to link one application to another with point-to-point communication through tailored connectors. The connectors, albeit an old and complex concept in the day of the ESB and other types of middleware, are now entering a world of more simple and useful solutions within enterprises.

A NEW APPROACH COMBINES THE BEST OF BOTH

The shortcoming of API management is that it puts the focus on publishing your app as if it’s an island. But the concept of “your app” is now commonly associated with an aggregation of services. Your app may have a set of its own custom services, and in many cases, it leverages a combination of third-party services, as well. Some common use cases include:

  • Salesforce for funneling in customer data
  • Box for organizing and storing cloud documents
  • SendGrid for email messaging services

However, your developers then have to deal with the challenge of not only needing to publish custom APIs for your app, but also having to combine these APIs from other services based on capabilities typically found in iPaaS, such as data mapping, data transformation, event management, and workflows.

“Cloud Elements may be the missing link between API management and iPaaS,” Lehmann shares. 451 Research concludes that Cloud Elements’ unique one-to-many approach offers a layer of abstraction to developers that minimizes the number and types of APIs needed for app integration across cloud services.

The platform services such as transformation, provision, monitoring, events, and notifications that we at Cloud Elements offer align with the necessary features discussed in the above descriptions of API management and iPaaS. Our one-to-many API integration services in combination with platform services are the missing link between API management and iPaaS. The combination may act as a convergence catalyst for these technologies in the coming year.

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