by  Mateusz Skawiński

Data Integration in Practice: How IPaaS Works

Big data technologies have been booming in recent years. Mobile applications collect vast amounts of user data, but a lack of automated data-processing hinders effective management. As the importance of data increases, so does the demand for automation.

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Why data integration

There is a growing need for data integration between various HCM (Human Capital Management) systems. A single organization can use a range of HCM tools to manage various types of employee data (payroll, personal data, information on employment history, training, career paths, and more).

In the case of mergers and acquisitions (M&A), newly acquired departments often use different systems. Transferring companywide support into a single system and ensuring interoperability of existing tools also require data integration.

Data integration solutions provide high system efficiency and reliability. Still, the talent pool for this specialization is not big enough to cover the rapidly growing demand.

Fortunately, integration systems are designed so that people who are still developing their knowledge in the field can work on them to a limited extent. Data integration solutions are easily configurable to the needs of a user and do not require in-depth expert knowledge to begin.

What are the challenges?

The concept of data integration is simple: data should be downloaded from the source system, transformed into the form applicable in the target system, and saved after all modifications are made.

While the concept may be simple, execution presents common challenges:

Data Security

Protecting sensitive data against unauthorized distribution is key to ensuring security and privacy. When building integration, experts must ensure that sensitive data is not stored in places that can be easily accessible to unauthorized users (I.e. directly, in the system to which the data has been exported, or indirectly, in the form of integration process logs, reports, or error notifications).

Performance

Full system data export (backup)—especially for enterprise systems that operate on large amounts of data—require a lot of time to process. An effective implementation process enables acceptable execution time.

A similar need may apply when integrating individual data changes. Near-real time integration may be required, so it is necessary to adapt the integration design to minimize execution time, such as limiting logging time.

Error handling and tracking

Finding the cause of integration failure can be difficult, especially when processing large amounts of data. Viewing generated logs can also be a taxing activity. (Fortunately, integration platforms offer great support in the form of ready-made error reporting and results tracking at intermediate stages of integration).

Complex business requirements

Identifying which data elements should be exported from the source system and how they should be mapped to the target system can be challenging. Many data transformations are not direct one-to-one mapping, often requiring retrieval and joining of multiple records from disparate systems, while performing additional operations.

The development of mapping requires a deep understanding of data content, its relations, and the systems involved.

Solving Challenges with IPaaS

Integration Platforms or IPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) provide ready-made, easily configurable elements that implement proven integration patterns. In this way, they help save time and reduce project budgets.

The use of integration platforms also facilitates interoperability with cloud systems, removes the need for users to expand infrastructure (it can be located and managed through the IPaaS platform), and provides frictionless scalability of the solution—crucial with increasing data volume and the need for optimal integration performance.

With IPaaS, costs are based on actual consumption, so a company can operate within its needs and budget. This is especially important for smaller organizations where the cost of legacy, full-scale enterprise solutions—purchase of licenses, the necessity of installation in unique environments, and preparation of infrastructure—would be unacceptable.

Another benefit is simplified configuration of connection and communication between integrated systems using Web API. There is extensive support for creating solutions based on REST or SOAP (part of current application development trends) that enable the exchange of requests through HTTP-based web services. This supports building integrations with on-demand data synchronization (in a certain, manually defined time), as well as real time operational integrations operating when a change in one system is propagated to another.

Bottom line: Integration Platforms enable enterprises to overcome data integration challenges, supporting increased agility and performance—while reducing integration time and costs.

Let’s talk about where you are in your IPaaS journey, and how SoftServe’s global team of Integration Platform experts can help you facilitate your data integration, synchronization, and processing to capture all the benefits that integration platforms deliver.