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Integration Platform as a Service: The Next Generation of ESB, Part 1


Economic challenges continue to drive organizations to reduce costs and improve service quality for enterprise integration services while more effectively managing risks such as service level agreements, high availability, security, and regulatory compliance.

This critical demand is prompting business and IT executives to rethink how they will provide enterprise integration services and determine whether those services will be delivered on premise or from an external cloud service provider.

The traditional approach to a new enterprise service bus (ESB) or business process management (BPM) implementation has been to customize a software stack to be installed at an internal data center based upon specific integration requirements. This approach can be time consuming and costly. If capacity increases or decreases because of merger, acquisition, divestiture, business model changes, or seasonal factors, then the efforts to maintain the integration platform can become a major undertaking for the IT organization. These efforts consume precious resources and divert focus away from the core capabilities of the business. And they inspire a new approach to enterprise integration using a cloud-based integration platform as a service (IPaaS).

A holistic view for implementing an IPaaS solution using cloud computing

Cloud computing enables transformations for integration platforms that can make both business and IT leaner, less costly, more agile, and more capable. But to properly implement an IPaaS solution, additional considerations must be addressed. The following figure is an example of an IPaaS reference architecture:

Figure 1. The IPaaS architecture model

This IPaaS architectural model contains multiple components organized into three main layers:

  1. External: Includes trading partners, eCommerce, Internet of Things (IoT), mobile devices, (for example, systems of engagement)
  2. Integration: Includes ESB, BPM, IBM® WebSphere® Cast Iron, IBM WebSphere Application Server, business activity monitoring, IBM Sterling Commerce®, and predictive data analytic capability (for example, systems of interaction)
  3. Internal business application: Includes product lifecycle management, digital operation, customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, and data warehouse (for example, systems of record)


IPaaS typically uses SoftLayer as its cloud-based solution. However the IPaaS model is equally applicable to private cloud, public cloud, or hybrid cloud solutions. The cost for the IPaaS set-up and standard operation is derived using a flexible, consumption-based model to calculate a monthly charge. It reduces unnecessary usage to a much leaner model — you only pay for the actual usage (pay as you go). The cost model is detailed later, including how to achieve the savings using a services catalog to calculate consumption.

Return on investment is a significant benefit of the IPaaS approach. The initial acquisition costs for hardware and software are amortized into the IPaaS consumption model, along with the run costs associated with platform and application support. An IPaaS approach usually has a break-even point as early as 8-10 months, with actual savings occurring within a year.

IPaaS as a cloud-enabled solution for end-to-end enterprise integration requirements

Consider the previous IPaaS architecture model example. The enterprise integration capabilities for this example extend beyond the traditional service-oriented architecture (SOA) concept of the ESB. Now the “integration platform” aspect of IPaaS becomes important. IPaaS allows additional capabilities beyond the ESB to be included in the integration solution. The “as a service” aspect of IPaaS means that these capabilities can be readily deployed using cloud technology. These additional IPaaS capabilities are already interoperable with each other, and they can be brought online quickly, incrementally, and cost effectively.

In this example of an IPaaS architecture model, multiple integration components work together to constitute the IPaaS services. The main components in this particular example are:

  • Enterprise service bus (ESB)
  • Business process management (BPM)
  • Business activity monitoring
  • Managed file transfer
  • Cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS)

A specific IPaaS implementation can use a different mix of enterprise integration components, depending on what the particular requirements are. For example, in addition to the previous components, API management, electronic data interchange, and real-time business analytics can be added to provide additional IPaaS capabilities.

For this particular IPaaS example, let’s drill down into each of the major components and their enterprise integration capabilities.


ESB is a software architecture model that’s used for designing and implementing communication between mutually interacting applications in an SOA. The ESB helps make communication between applications more agile and flexible.

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