Choosing the right Embedded iPaaS solution for your product is not an easy task. To make it at least a little bit easier for you, we prepared an overview comparing different Embedded iPaaS offerings so that you can make a wise choice.
Embedded iPaaS can help you scale your SaaS business and make your customers happier. As your business and user base grows, you’ll find yourself adding more and more integrations to third-party applications that your users require—keeping them happy to stay with your SaaS.
One of the best advantages of Embedded iPaaS is that it comes with ready-to-use and extensible software components and connectors. This allows you to quickly deliver native integrations and workflow automation in a scalable and maintainable manner. Not only will you reduce R&D costs but you’ll also make your product “stickier”, increase customer retention, give your product a competitive advantage, and accelerate time-to-market.
iPaaS vs Embedded iPaaS
There are many iPaaS solutions on the market. However, there’s a clear distinction between iPaaS and Embedded iPaaS that you should consider.
One of the main questions to ask is:
- If you want to integrate cloud tools that you use internally for daily work (e.g. to reduce repetitive tasks or automate data flows between apps for yourself);
- If you want to offer native integration and workflow automation capabilities within your SaaS product for use by your end-users.
For the former, you can use an iPaaS solution that provides lots of connectors for the most common cloud applications on the market. This tool will help you to, for example, sync contacts from one CRM to another or to send notifications when new contacts are added. iPaaS is used for your own personal (or company’s internal) automations.
The latter, Embedded iPaaS, is aimed at SaaS vendors to embed into their products, white-labeled. Having this feature will allow their end-users to integrate their products with others and automate their daily routines.
When considering an Embedded iPaaS solution that best fits your SaaS, you should look at the following six factors:
1. Embedding Options
Different Embedded iPaaS solutions provide different options for embedding integrations and workflow automation features into your SaaS product. Typically, there are four options available:
- External link
Your application just links to an external integration hub. This option is the easiest one to implement but has many disadvantages such as limited customization and incompatible user accounts.
Your application includes an IFrame with an external integration hub. This provides a slightly better user experience than the previous option since your users stay in your product. However, it has the same disadvantages as the previous option such as limited customization and incompatible user accounts.
- Custom UI
You build your own, totally custom UI by using the iPaaS vendor REST API. This is probably the most versatile option but it requires a lot of effort from your R&D team to build and maintain.
2. Custom and Built-in Connectors
Embedded iPaaS vendors usually come with a set of ready-to-use connectors which you can use in your product without any R&D effort required. However, in many applications, you’ll usually need to extend this set with your own connectors either to your private APIs or other public APIs. Also, your custom connectors can represent business logic or utilities that are specific to your application, such as data transformations, logic decision points, human entry points, notifications, and custom DB connectors, just to name a few.
Most Embedded iPaaS vendors provide some way of defining custom connectors. However, in many cases, these connectors can only be implemented using a predefined template for HTTP API calls. This is not sufficient for implementing custom processing, transformations, or logic. It’s even worse if you want to implement a connector for an API that you don’t own (i.e. you can’t change the logic of the other end of the API).
Something else to consider is the pricing of many iPaaS vendors scales up with the number of (built-in or custom) connectors used in your integrations. It’s always good to do a basic calculation based on your current and future requirements.
3. Hosted vs On-Premise Installation
Many Embedded iPaaS vendors provide a hosted/SaaS model. While this model is easier for onboarding and maintenance, it also means that all data will be shared with your iPaaS vendor.
If you’re not concerned by that, then a hosted solution might be just for you. If, on the other hand, you have stricter data security and privacy requirements, look for iPaaS vendors that provide you with an On-Premise installation package. Moreover, On-Premise installation packages usually come with more customization capabilities. Note that some iPaaS vendors provide on-premise packages only to enterprise customers.
4. Drag-and-Drop Workflow Automation Builder UI
While many iPaaS vendors provide drag-and-drop workflow automation builders, allowing you to create integrations for your customers, only a few let you embed this builder UI seamlessly into your own application for your end users to use. Moreover, once you embed a third party UI into your own web application, make sure you have enough customization capabilities so your new UI widgets match your branding as well as the look and feel of the rest of your application. This level of detail will make your end users feel like they are interacting with a native control, which can have a huge impact on how easy it feels to use your SaaS.
5. Data visualization and BI
You and your end users’ workflows generate activity that should be recorded. These logs can be useful for both your end users—and also for you—as a SaaS vendor. These activities and data records can provide valuable insights into what’s happening in users’ automations or provide other types of BI information.
Market Comparison of Embedded iPaaS Solutions
Now that you understand the six key factors to consider when choosing an Embedded iPaaS to support your SaaS development according to your needs, let’s compare how current Embedded iPaaS solutions available on the market measure up to each factor.
Tray.io is originally an iPaaS solution that only recently extended their product to provide Embedded iPaaS features. Tray.io now allows you to create integrations in a visual drag-and-drop builder UI and configure an integration wizard for your end users to complete. Embedding Tray.io in your product can be done either via a link or an IFrame to an external hub or via a custom UI build on top of their API (with the exception of their drag-and-drop builder UI which you cannot embed natively).
With Tray.io, you will have access to a lot of ready-to-use connectors to the most common cloud applications (450+). However, custom connectors can only be made upon request to the Tray.io team or using their Universal HTTP client connector (with limited customization capabilities).
Tray.io is best suited for larger enterprises that do not seek to implement a lot of custom connectors to their own private APIs and do not require to have a drag-and-drop workflow automation builder UI as part of their products. Tray.io is mostly used by companies as a traditional iPaaS solution to automate internal business processes.
Cyclr is an Embedded iPaaS that provides both hosted and an on-premise installation package. The on-premise package is available only to Enterprise customers. You should be aware and cautious that the pricing model of Cyclr quickly scales with the number of transactions and connectors used in integrations (3, 10, …). A good advantage of Cyclr is that it provides tooling to build custom connectors and UI that can be embedded with IFrames or built from scratch on top of their API.
Cyclr is suitable for smaller startups that do not require embedding drag-and-drop workflow automation builder UI in their products and that do not have a need to use a lot of connectors.
Blendr is an Embedded iPaaS platform originally built for SaaS companies in the EventTech sector. However, the platform is generic enough to provide integrations for companies in other sectors too. Blendr is a hosted SaaS product with an on-premise package available to enterprise customers only. Custom connectors are also available to enterprise customers only. Blendr can be embedded either with an IFrame or via building a UI from scratch on top of the Blendr API.
Blendr is suited for small and medium sized SaaS businesses, especially from the EventTech sector but also in Accounting, HR and other sectors too.
Elastic is mainly an iPaaS with some embedding features. A hosted solution is provided, which allows embedding via branding of their hosted UIs and linking to their integration hub with an external link. You also have the possibility to implement custom connectors in NodeJS or Java.
Elastic’s main target audience is companies in the Retail sector.
Cloud Elements does not provide a real Embedded iPaaS but it’s worth mentioning as an alternative. Cloud Elements is a cloud API integration platform that enables developers to publish, integrate, aggregate, and manage all of their APIs through a unified platform. Even though Cloud Elements provides a drag-and-drop workflow automation builder UI, it is not meant to be embedded into third party products.
New connectors can be introduced only via a declarative JSON specification using the Cloud Elements provided framework (HTTP GET, POST, Webhooks, Polling). That gives you a quick way to connect to a standard HTTP API. However, it does not allow you to build custom logic or connect to an API that does not follow Cloud Elements’ requirements.
Appmixer is best suited for SaaS SMB companies especially in the Cloud Communications, MarTech, AI, Finance, Big Data and Gaming sectors, among others. Appmixer specializes in providing not only an integration and workflow automation platform but also in all visual UIs related to these platforms (embeddable drag-and-drop workflow designer UI, data visualization, workflow management, and so on).
Comparison Chart of Embedded iPaaS Solutions
Here’s a chart for a quick, at-a-glance comparison of the Embedded iPaaS solutions discussed.
As with any other technology or product, choosing the right one is not easy. Hopefully, this overview has helped to clear the confusion or overwhelm so you have a good head start to continue with your follow-up research. Since you’re considering embedding a third party technology into your product, it is always important to have the opportunity to try it out before buying. Make sure to contact your iPaaS vendor and discuss trial options.
Appmixer provides a free 30-day trial that gives you enough time to learn, experiment and build a quick proof-of-concept. Appmixer’s engineering team is ready to assist you. Contact our sales representative to request a trial or book a free demo meeting.