The Third Option for Integrating the Cloud

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Eight Insights on the True Value of SaaS

Cloud computing and SaaS bring so much more to the table than simple outsourcing.

When it comes to the cloud, there's always been a question about who's responsible for integration: you or the SaaS company with which you're doing business.


It's even a question SaaS integration companies struggle with-as I've written about in the past, some vendors opt to sell directly to end-user companies, while others have targeted SaaS providers by offering packaged integration.


But there is a third option: The SaaS provider can help you by providing an integration Platform-as-a-Service, aka iPaaS. Don't be put off by the acronym. Basically, what it means is you're given the tools to build your own integration connectors for the cloud.


This week, Workday announced it's offering option number three. Workday offers SaaS-based solutions for human resources, payroll and financial management and its new Workday Integration Cloud Platform will be free to customers and partners.


It's worth noting that the focus here is application integration-not data integration-and that this is strictly for integration. It's not a software development platform.


The company is focusing on how this move benefits customers. In a blog post Monday, Workday Co-founder and Co-CEO Aneel Bhusri said the platform "delivers significant business value to our customers and partners in three key areas, affectionately referred to as the 3 C's": cost, choice and community.


But as Interarbor Solutions President and Principal Consultant Dana Gardner points out, it's also a smart way to make Workday more competitive:

An early advocate for the 'integration as a service' concept, Workday is delivering on that vision in a way that could rapidly broaden its appeal beyond human resources management (HRM) and enterprise ERP and into more general cloud services. The strong integration capabilities bolsters the appeal of Workday's applications services, draws in more service partners, and sets the stage for providing wider integration capabilities.

Gardner seemed quite impressed with Workday's offering; the headline touts it as raising the bar on integration. Like any iPaaS, Workday's platform will allow you to create custom integrations, and that means you can create a more robust integration than an API might allow. Gardner explains some of the problems you encounter when API is your only option, and highlights the benefits of the platform's multi-tenant approach. (Gardner also notes in his post that Workday is a sponsor of his Briefings Direct podcasts.)


Actually, Gardner's post covers a lot more than Workday's new offering and is well worth a read since it looks at some of the problems inherent in how integration is approached today and how iPaaS solutions such as Workday's might change that equation:

In order to accomplish these new requirements, an uber integration capability that can be leveraged by various IT constituents amid an ecosystem-not installed by any or all those IT environments-appears the best and fastest approach. An integration platform in the cloud that can be leveraged and managed with enterprise-caliber security and access control at the process level can solve these vexing problems, for data, process, workflow, collaboration and traditional integration methods.

As part of the Workday Integration Cloud Platform unveiling, several customers and partners issued press releases detailing their experience and success with the new platform, including OmniPoint, Collaborative Solutions and Aggressor, a partner that used the Workday platform to integrate more than 40 on-premise, cloud and third-party vendor applications for the American Auto Association (AAA) Northern California, Nevada, Utah (NCNU).