That's when I realized I wasn't 100 percent for sure what it means-which is kind of a problem, given my job.
Now, I'm not clueless about iPaaS-it means integration platform-as-a-service. Although, it's also true that this acronym is sometimes used for other things, such as Intellectual Property as a Service, with its capital "I," capital "P."
But I still found myself thinking, "Yeah-what the heck is an iPaaS anyway?"
In technology, acronyms seldom tell the whole story. As my editor-in-chief, Kachina Shaw, once observed, if you're outside IT, knowing ESB stands for "enterprise service bus" really tells you nothing more about what it is or what it does than the acronym itself. Knowing iPaaS stands for integration platform-as-a-service is the same way. There's still plenty of room for confusion.
Here's what I knew about iPaaS going into this:
That's a pretty short list for someone who sorts through a ton of content on integration every week. But I suspect we'll hear more about iPaaS as the year matures.
For one thing, Gartner formed a group of analysts dedicated to researching the topic, according to this blog post by Benoit Lheureux, a Gartner Research VP and agenda manager for the application infrastructure group:
Look for research on 'integration platform as a service' (iPaaS), an evolved form of integration as a service (IaaS) that delivers a hybrid combination of integration, governance, security and other interoperability capabilities delivered in the Cloud to link applications, SOA services and Cloud services. In 2011 Massimo Pezzini will lead a group of analysts including myself in an active 2011 research agenda on this concept.
So, already we have a more detailed definition. It's not just a way of providing or building cloud integrators-it also includes tools to support governance, security and other tangential capabilities.
I suspect Mason will be one of the leading voices on shaping what an iPaaS is and isn't-assuming the term catches on. First, Mule is one of two vendors I've found that have embraced the term. Second, Mason is doing a lot of writing and talking about iPaaS and what it means. So, in that way, Mule may become the template for iPaaS.
Certainly, MuleSoft and Mason are doing their part to help define the term, which brings us back to Mason's article and the meaning of iPaaS. Mason says an iPaaS should have seven core capabilities:
As I've said before, this is a third option for providing integration with and within the cloud. I would think it would appeal to companies that don't mind building their own code and to IT shops that need to integrate any cloud silos business units may have created.
It should be interesting to see whether iPaaS-both the term and the approach-catch on.