Let’s get right to the point. We have seen an explosion in SaaS application use primarily because they address specific departmental needs with a very low cost of ownership. While SaaS applications may be very visible in sales, marketing, finance, and engineering departments, their usage is also more than just a trend in all other parts of companies. According to analysts, companies are utilizing an average of 15 to 20 SaaS-based applications in their environment. In a recent survey, over 70 percent of organizations said that about 80 percent of their applications would be SaaS by 2020.
However, companies are also focused on integrating their business processes (and supporting business applications) across the organization to improve responsiveness to customers, improve operational efficiency, make better operating decisions, and compete more effectively against the “Amazons” in their segment. This need for integration of SaaS systems has placed an unprecedented burden on IT departments to integrate and connect an increasing number of applications. Traditional integration technologies, however comprehensive, were designed for the developer – an IT specialist with deep expertise in integration technologies. As a result, traditional integration technologies can’t help IT organizations reduce their integration workload. Additionally, specialists with traditional integration tech knowledge are becoming more difficult to find as they retire, so there are fewer specialists to rely upon.
Such challenges have given rise to the next generation of integration technologies that have been designed with the business analyst in mind (for example, someone who is in the finance or marketing organization, knows their business processes and data, but is also tech savvy), so integration can be done by people outside the IT organization. Some analysts, including Gartner, call these users citizen integrators. These next-gen integration platforms (Integration Platform-as-a-Service or iPaaS) enable citizen integrators to help address the integration backlog and free up IT to focus on other items on their “to-do” list. As a result, these integration platforms enable a company to meet its aggressive goals of tying together its SaaS systems sooner rather than later. Gartner predicts, “By 2018, in most organizations, at least 50% of new integration flows will be implemented by citizen integrators.”
Checklist: Citizen integrator enabling platforms
If you look at “citizen integrator enabling platforms,” you should find the following key attributes that both address the core tenets of any enterprise-class integration platform and allow a business analyst to easily develop integrations:
- A capability to build integration pipelines without needing any coding, so business analysts can easily create their own integrations. Ideally, one can drag-and-drop connectors together to build integration pipelines.
- Configurable integration modules, so components of integration between any two applications can be reused in other integrations and speed up the process
- Rich and easy-to-use data mapping and transformation capabilities
- A large library of pre-built connectors to popular SaaS systems, databases, data warehouses, and tools to enable quicker integration to internal systems
- An ability to integrate with an application using any mechanism SaaS providers support including EDI, API, files, MQTT, SQL, XML, etc.
- An ability to easily create REST API using drag and drop tools. The latter enables business analysts to easily create REST interfaces to legacy systems to enable quick integrations
- High availability and scalable integration platform, so the uptime and performance of resulting integrations is enterprise-class – comparable to traditional systems such as TIBCO and Informatica
- Centralized object level, granular security, and permissions that enable integration to be extended to every corner of the organization without any risks.
- Cloud-based integration tools, with single sign-on, enabling easy access to citizen integrators
- Broader deployment options – cloud-to-cloud, cloud-to-ground, ground-to-cloud or hybrid – so any type of internal applications can be connected by business analysts
- Access to a library of documentation and tutorials as well as community support to help accelerate business analyst’s onboarding and learning
We invite you to take a closer look at the SnapLogic iPaaS platform. It meets all the above requirements, is designed for a business analyst, and is deployed at hundreds of large organizations. Modern platforms, like SnapLogic, are the future of integration in the SaaSy world, and we’re excited to be right in the middle of it!