A Fresh Approach to Cloud Business Apps Integration

The subscription-based business model of cloud business apps (SaaS) is a huge benefit to small and mid size businesses. This model can result in significant cost savings.

However, for those cost savings to translate into hard benefits for your business you will have to deconstruct data silos and integrate the multiple Software as a Service ( SaaS ) applications that string your business together. In this post, we will discuss the main considerations to integrate multiple SaaS applications.


How the SaaS Integration Process Works

Before beginning to integrate SaaS systems, you must understand how it works. An easy SaaS integration process consists of three simple steps:

  1. In the first step, you choose which source of information, from back-end systems or other cloud applications that contain live data about your business, will be migrated to the new SaaS application.
  2. In the second step, you choose which information between two SaaS applications is synchronized and transformed for consumption.
  3. The third step consists of extracting information from SaaS solutions to make sense of your business. This includes automating tasks, getting  feeds of your SaaS system activities, or building reports and business intelligence based on data from multiple systems.

This one minute video explains in a more visual way how easy  SaaS integration can be.

Different Levels of Integration for Your SaaS Applications

There are several methods to integrate your SaaS application, each of them fulfilling different objectives:

1. Single Sign-On

As the name denotes, Single Sign-On introduces a single unique authentication for logging into multiple applications. This process uses a single member database that serves as system of record for all membership data. The database serves as primary authentication system for multiple SaaS applications. Thus, instead of using multiple log ins to multiple SaaS applications, your business employees become members of a community network. It establishes point-to-point connections and is not suitable for business process workflows.

2. Custom coding

Most SaaS applications expose parts of their Application Programing Interfaces (or APIs) to enable data (and information) transfer between applications. Businesses using these APIs to develop integrations internally hire teams of programmers to enable ad-hoc integrations. Large enterprise applications providers such as Netsuite and Salesforce.com are leaders and have attracted hordes of programmers, interested in developing customized applications from their public APIs.

Custom coding is great for very specific ad-hoc integrations but it requires specialized programming skills and resources that most smaller businesses, given their budget and time constraints, can ill-afford. Besides this, the integration interface requires constant maintenance. Thus, upgrades to SaaS applications or new features may require additional custom coding to ensure that systems work as before.

3. Integration Platforms as a Service(or, iPaaS)

iPaaS ar subscription based platforms dedicated to integration and operating in the cloud. It functions on the same principles as SaaS. Instead of paying developers to integrate your SaaS applications, you can opt for a subscription-based service that does the job for you. Because they come enabled with pre-built integration capability, iPaaS service providers remove complexity, cost, and resource overheads associated with traditional integration approaches and enable you to be up and running quickly. iPaaS can be provided in many ways. However, the most common (and basic) format for iPaaS is connectivity, transformation, workflow, and management.

You can check CloudWork if you are looking for an easy to run  iPaaS solution designed to offer only tried pre-packaged connections between the most popular business and social media apps.

Picture credit and more about iPaaS from this article written by Hollis Tibbetts in eBizQ