App & Data Integration 10 mins read

This is how an iPaaS should work—develop anywhere, deploy anywhere 

Unravel integration chaos in multi-cloud environments with a composable approach and iPaaS

Ann Marie Bond Ann Marie Bond

It’s been over a decade since Gartner introduced the Pace-Layered Application Strategy. This model, a way of organizing and managing applications to align them with business goals, is even more relevant today. The idea is that within an organization, there are multiple competing goals; maintaining core systems of record at one extreme and diving into innovative fast-fail initiatives at the other. Identifying and breaking them out into separate workstreams makes it easier to assign budget and resources in accordance with the strategy of the business. The real challenge this concept addresses is the tug-of-war for IT resources, many of which are invested in standardization, security, and stability, leaving not enough capacity for new business initiatives. And while loads of new architectures and technologies have emerged in the last 10 years, this challenge hasn’t changed.

The reason the needle isn’t moving is that as businesses moved to the cloud, they adopted hundreds of new best-of-breed SaaS applications and cloud services. These new tools, however, aren’t replacing systems of record.  Instead, they’re increasing the workload for IT.  And as enterprises look for ways to transform how their products and services are delivered, they are also investing in cloud-native solutions using microservices and containers, creating more distributed services and sources of data. This rapid expansion is bringing one technology to the forefront: integration—in all its different forms. Systems that fit into each segment of a pace-layered application strategy have different integration needs. Traditional business processes often have systems of record on prem connected via ESBs. New apps in the cloud designed to automate the unique workflows at the core of the business require integration platforms in the cloud (iPaaS) to reconcile and transform data. Innovation-layer initiatives can range from leveraging new big-data sources to creating flexible microservices-based products to piloting AI-based solutions.

Navigating islands of integration

Technology landscapes now resemble islands of integration. There are legacy systems linked through ESBs; partners and suppliers connected through B2B gateways; cloud apps integrated with iPaaSes; private cloud-hosted microservices; and big data sources accessed through ETL/ELT integrations. Often there are multiple implementations in different regions or clouds in order to handle different data regulations or run close to the source of data. Using APIs to create standard interfaces to these systems and services doesn’t eliminate the complexity of developing, managing, operating, and deploying to different platforms in different regions; it adds another set of tools to the mix. 

This diversity makes governance almost impossible. Ensuring security, performance, and quality while maintaining operational flexibility in complex multi-cloud architectures is a massive challenge. And so, we are still in a tug-of-war for IT resources. But this time, the focus for IT isn’t specifically around modernizing code or systems—it’s about re-architecting distributed workloads to create a foundation for agility and innovation.

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Breaking down complexity into building blocks

One approach that has gained traction is the concept of a composable architecture. This building block approach can be viewed as a further breakdown of the pace layer concept where you choose the right technology for each business need without impacting others. If the pricing system building block needs to change, for example, it can be done easily as long as the connections—integrations or APIs—to this composable element remain the same. This Lego-like concept is simple but powerful in complex landscapes because it delivers three key strategic goals: 

  • Agility—Building blocks provide flexibility to adapt business to new opportunities without having to rebuild or make big changes to existing technology. 
  • Productivity—Composability enables businesses to move fast and capitalize on market opportunities by leveraging prebuilt, stable solutions to create new services at scale. 
  • Governance—A building block approach enables businesses to group systems with similar security and access needs to ensure the right person sees the right data at the right time. 

This concept helps consolidate and rationalize the overlapping technologies while making it easier to operate the technology stack. And APIs, with their underlying integrations to applications, are key to creating this modularity.  The tools to do this in distributed environments with their integration challenges, however, often fall short of what’s needed.

Best practices for distributed environments

As you refine your strategy to transform “islands of integration” to a model that supports multiple application layers in a composable architecture, you also have to take into account that things will continue to change. Technology at every level has to deliver agility, scalability, productivity, and governance to support current as well as evolving needs. 

There isn’t any single solution for integration that meets the needs of every business or organization within a business. IT organizations should assess options carefully and implement a combination of approaches. But there are some best practices for operating in complex multi-cloud, hybrid environments.

Deploy to anywhere, from anywhere

Organizations are running multiple integration platforms in multiple locations due to regional performance and data protection considerations, and a lack of ability to span hybrid environments.  This requires additional resources and expertise to manage and monitor, and places limitations on complex multinational or multi-cloud transactions. A best practice is to be able to deploy integrations anywhere—not just in the hosted iPaaS tenant, but in your private cloud containers, to on-prem hardware, to different regions and even to different cloud providers—using the same well-tested source code and delivery model. With Integration, there is a single integration runtime which can run in public clouds, private clouds, and on premises.

Develop anywhere—online or offline 

Traditional on-prem integration platforms are heavyweight and need IT experts. Cloud integration platforms have drag & drop UIs that are easily accessible online but are lacking in flexibility and resilience. Developers traditionally have had to choose between creating their integrations in a cloud UI, and being limited to cloud deployment, or using a richer environment and deploying only to on-prem locations.  

A best practice is to be able to develop anywhere, even offline—with code uploaded to a common repository for collaboration from anyone, anywhere. Now with Integration, developers can choose where you build, and choose where to deploy, with no limitations.  You can build integrations in a cloud editor or build it inside Service Designer online or offline. Publish them into source code control and pull them into the cloud or run them in your own self-hosted runtimes. And easily orchestrate cross-platform workflows with access to applications no matter where they live. 

And it’s not just anywhere: it’s anyone. Instead of requiring integration specialists, citizen integrators in Integration can now create their own workflows without being reliant on IT or limited to cloud deployments.

Get central control with distributed execution 

Operations teams have to support integration and API platforms in many regions.  Analyzing performance and debugging can require logging on to multiple local administration screens. It can be difficult to monitor the health of your systems, collect performance analytics, and compare systems for diagnostic purposes. And there’s no single location to see all your deployed APIs and integrations. 

With distributed runtimes that are part of core business services, it’s more important than ever to have central control and visibility. This is a best practice. With webMethods API Control Plane, you’ll be able to track the operational status of API gateways and individual APIs around the world from a common monitoring and analytics dashboard, so you can identify issues early and resolve them. API platform teams will have observability for large, distributed API environments to ensure the health of the API landscape. And with a single catalog of APIs, API product managers can more easily manage the full API lifecycle. As APIs are deployed, they will appear automatically and be traceable; comparing performance and behavior of APIs will yield insights into potential issues; duplicate APIs will be easier to identify; and policies can be applied more consistently, reducing security risks and improving reliability. Finally, you’ll see how APIs are actually being used to balance capacity and dedicate resources appropriately. Integration delivers a unified view for all runtime environments whether they are in the public cloud, private cloud, in on-premises data centers, or a hybrid environment. And you can monitor transactions that connect across multiple integration runtimes with full traceability and performance metrics.

Automate everything

DevOps doesn’t work when you have splintered systems that require manual steps to test and deploy. One typo or copy/paste error can affect customers and your bottom line, and deployments can take weeks to prepare for and days to back out if they don’t work. The best practice is to automate everything. Period. With Integration and API you can do that. Integration’s patented automated deployment model enables single-click provisioning of new Edge runtimes and integrations with the appropriate dependencies and configurations automatically identified and installed. This automates and accelerates software delivery in hybrid cloud environments, reducing manual errors and making replication simple. API makes every capability available via API, so your DevOps team can ensure every deployment is successful.

Partner self-service in the cloud

In day-to-day B2B operations, maintaining accurate data on all the details of connectivity to reduce potential downtime in your core business processes is critical.  With on-prem systems that involve complex protocols and require specialists to run, debugging issues is not only time-consuming but can cost you money.  A best practice is to connect to your partners and suppliers from the cloud with a partner self-service portal that enables partners to maintain their own connectivity details and diagnose problems themselves. With B2B, partners can make updates themselves instead of having to go through your internal team, freeing up resources. Streamlining supplier orders and reducing errors lessens your overall inventory exposure. Security certificates can be kept up to date, ensuring continuous connectivity. In addition, internal users can use the portal to monitor transactions and look up key business documents without the help of B2B specialists, and without needing the higher permissions of a B2B admin. 

Auditing is a key aspect of B2B when SLAs are part of the relationship. With the new archival capability, businesses can have a long-term picture of partner interactions on which to base business decisions. 

Many partner and supplier interactions still take place through managed file transfers.  A best practice is to start moving this capability to the cloud. With MFT’s new automatic virus scanning and resubmit, both speed and security of file transfers in the cloud are improved.


This new version of the iPaaS transforms integration and API development. The days of half a dozen different admin consoles and multiple integration products are over; all integrations and APIs in the platform are controlled from a persona-based single pane of glass.  Developers no longer have to be locked into a particular environment or development tool. And achieving your key strategic goals seems a little less distant with iPaaS

  • Agility in your integration platform is available through the deploy anywhere, develop anywhere, automate everything, and partner self-service in the cloud capabilities 
  • Productivity is enabled through develop anywhere, deploy anywhere, central control/distributed execution capabilities 
  • Governance is delivered through central control, distributed execution, and partner self-service in the cloud capabilities 

With sophisticated deployment automation, developer flexibility and the best security on the market, iPaaS is the ideal integration and API management platform in the cloud. Check it out for yourself and let us know what you think!