I have been in the integration space now since birth. It has seen many changes. The biggest fundamental change in this space was the dawn of API Management as a technology. It’s both the driver for this that’s significant (the why) and then the what. Here is the key to the differences between iPaaS and API Management. Think back to the past…
- Integration up to this point was connecting A to B where the integrator was responsible for connecting both sides. In the form of “A2A”, it was two applications. In the form of B2B, it was a relationship, a handshake, and then work on both sides to make the connection from business A to business B. The integrator built and defined the interface(s), they used connectors, some form of mapping to semantically align the data. And yes, in many integrations there were more than two sides but the point is the integrator knew the sides!
- At this time, the companies we sold to had one big NO – *no customizations* and *no development*. They declared they were not in the development business and sought for commercial off the shelf packages (COTS) – configure not code (yet everyone knows every mapper, ESB, and integration technology out there has some element of some flavor of code or scripting within it). But the essence was to do away with “developers” and “development”.
Then BOOM. Everything changed.
The real change came was the disruptive nature of innovative companies that started to upset the established. A need for innovation inserted itself into this neat and tidy world that large enterprises were trying to maintain with no code. Enter the experience economy. Companies no longer compete on product and price alone. Organizations were now empowering developers to build great new experiences with their organization’s data and with data from other organizations. Development is now a revered craft and is the means of differentiation for any organization. One does not buy innovation or differentiation as “Commercial off the shelf” software. An organization had to build brilliant experiences to differentiate itself. The ban on developers was over.
With all this, enter API Management. REST emerged. Firewall friendly, mobile-friendly, browser friendly, internet-friendly – REST. The shift from SOA to WOA was discussed and RESTafarians entered the stage. But all of this was to address this core need for innovation, differentiation and the creation of new markets. And this was needed at a pace to match the best of startups. This required developers crafted in building mobile, web or any channel in fact to deliver immersive experiences. This required APIs’ and more so the data the APIs surface. These APIs became the painter’s pallet to craft these brilliant experiences.
The differences between iPaaS and API Management
This shift was significant. At its core API management is publishing APIs for another to use in their own creations. And the “other” side was not always known.
But WAIT! Go back to “integration.” It’s changing too! APIs are more than innovation. APIs are also used for integration to connect “application A” and “application B” together in this modern world. To complicate matters the organization is no longer neat and tidy inside a box (a firewall). The organization has no walls. The use of cloud(s) with infrastructure as a service has extended the organization, then the use of SaaS applications further extends the boundaries until they can be hardly seen. So much has changed. The use of APIs for integration and then the shifting organization boundaries has driven API security to accommodate both integration and innovation scenarios and REST is perfect for this.
Integration itself has now changed.
The focus on serving the full lifecycle of API Management from API design to serving the API developer to serving the developer community consuming the APIs and all of this being supported by an API product manager gets to the heart of API management. APIs are a product. An API first approach is taking into accommodation this lifecycle and the strategic use of APIs as a product and managing it as such. Here the outcome is a well designed, managed, and secured API to serve developers building new experiences.
The iPaaS space is rooted in a cloud-based experience for a wide range of integration patterns – application to application, B2B, MFT, and much more. Here the focus is the integrator and the outcome of integration is a running process where information flows within. Integration itself at some level had stayed the same – the integration process, multistep integration process, the mapping/semantic alignment all serving the connection between application A and application B now though with a much-improved experience and rooted in the cloud.
The two do come together.
The outcome ultimately is never really the API or the integration itself. The outcome is a new business model, new experiences, and a transformed organization. APIs have some sizzle in today’s conversations and for very valid reasons. API’s are the heart of how technology bends at a pace to support innovation. In order to compete, any organization must be intentional about its API strategy.
Critical to success is where and how the two marry up. There are many big and great iPaaS vendors out there adding a modicum of API management as it is necessary in modern integration. Interestingly the big analyst firms include API Management in the definition of an iPaaS. Beware of those vendors for whom API Management is an “add on”. When you look at modern integration strategies, specifically Hybrid Integration you’ll see effective API Management is at the heart.
So in all this. What do you do? First, take an API First strategy to all you do. Don’t take API Management lightly. Make it strategic. Second, in your integration strategy look closely at HIP and closely at API led integration technologies that can be a part of your HIP and your API first approach to all things. You will need effective API Management to drive innovation. Your innovation though must also be able to tap the integrations within. Oh yes, you’ll need a catalyst.
Discover more information to drive innovation with our Catalysts.