What is an embedded iPaaS? And what are its pros and cons?

embedded iPaaS guide

Pursuing product-led growth successfully offers a wealth of business benefits.

Your average deal size will balloon; your retention rate will rise; your client referrals will multiply; and your reputation in the market will jump by leaps and bounds.

So, how can you pursue product-led growth effectively? While there are a range of solutions that can help, investing in a modern embedded iPaaS should be top of mind. 

Before we share the features and benefits provided by this type of platform, let’s take a step back and align on the definitions of both an iPaaS and an embedded iPaaS.

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What is an iPaaS?

An iPaaS, or an integration platform as a service, is a cloud-based platform that enables you to connect SaaS applications and on-prem systems; once connected, you can develop and deploy data flows that work across these applications.

What is an embedded iPaaS?

An embedded iPaaS is simply an iPaaS that can be added directly to your product.

The nuance here is how you decide to deploy it. 

You have a few options to choose from: an in-line experience or an embedded automation customization.

In-line experience

This approach involves building the integrations and automations into your product—allowing users to avoid designing, implementing, and maintaining them.

For example, the screenshot below shows the UI of a fictional HRIS. If the user clicks “Sync document to payroll,” the document gets added to your client’s payroll system automatically thanks to a data sync set up in your embedded iPaaS.

A button that, if clicked in an HRIS, automatically syncs a document to payroll

Embedded automation customization

This approach gives users more control, as they can use your embedded iPaaS to implement integrations as well as workflow automations—all without leaving your platform.

For instance, below you’ll see a fictional ERP system that allows users to implement a one-way sync between Jira and Salesforce.

A made up company that allows its users to integrate apps and implement automations across systems
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Pros and cons of an embedded iPaaS

So, when should you invest in an embedded iPaaS and when should you simply build the integrations in-house? Though the answer largely depends on the nature of your integrations as well as the technical resources at your disposal, the following pros and cons can help guide your decision:

Pros

  • Relieves your developers from building and maintaining integrations to your product;  instead, they can focus on building out and improving your product’s core features
  • Lets you take integrations to market quickly, thereby helping you win new business and retain clients at a higher rate
  • Using a modern embedded iPaaS, you can turn your product into a hub for workflow automations, which fundamentally transforms the value it provides

Cons

  • May be unnecessary when there are a limited number of integrations, as the process of building to a few APIs can potentially be manageable internally
  • Can also be handled internally when the scope of building to APIs are shallow (i.e. you just have a few simple use cases for your integrations)
  • Your team will have to learn how the platform works, and depending on your go-to-market plans, your clients might also

Related: 3 benefits of using an embedded integration platform

Features of an embedded iPaaS

Once you’ve decided to invest in an embedded iPaaS, you’ll want one that offers the following:

1. Pre-built connectors

Your clients likely use a unique combination of applications—spanning in the hundreds— to power their operations. This inevitably leads to an aggressive number of integration requests for your product.

To help meet this demand at scale, an embedded iPaaS should offer a high volume of pre-built connectors for applications and databases that complement your product.

This also takes the sweat off your back, as you don’t have to invest in internal dev resources to build and maintain the connectors. Chris McClave, the CTO of Trakstar, a platform that offers a suite of HR products, explains further:

“If it’s (an application) already existing as a connector, that’s not code that I have to develop or that I have to hire to have developed to be able to engage with those systems that are core to our landscape.” 
Chris McClave CTO @ Trakstar

2. Low-code UI

Relying on engineers to implement integrations and automations might work in the beginning, or in fairly complex scenarios. However, over time, this takes them away from the initiatives they’re uniquely qualified to address and that focus on key parts of your product roadmap.

That’s where a low-code UI can help. 

By offering one, your product team, colleagues in professional services, and users can use an embedded iPaaS to build automations and integrations to your product independently, quickly, and easily.

 3. Customizable platform bots

Your customers likely spend significant chunks of their work day on a business communications platform, like Slack

Slack’s own research confirmed this, finding that its users spend 90 minutes on average actively using the platform on a given week day.

An embedded platform can capitalize on this by providing platform bots that act as a productized extension of your platform. 

More specifically, these platform bots allow your users to access data and actions from your product within their business communications platform. And they can even bring the automations built in your platform directly to your business communications platform.

Bret Kramer, the VP of Sales and Customer Success at Qstream, an enterprise microlearning solution, elaborated based on his own experience.

“When our product can interact with bots inside of Slack we have a leg up, as our product can keep up with the clients’ flow of work.”
Bret Kramer VP of Sales and CS @ Qstream

4. Enterprise-grade security

Given that an embedded iPaaS connects various applications and works with business-critical, sensitive data, it offers robust governance and security features. This includes role-based access controls, data masking, an admin dashboard for monitoring and tracking usage, etc. In addition, the platform likely demonstrates its efficacy in safeguarding your data by being compliant with reports and regulatory measures like GDPR and SOC 2 Type 2.

Picking an embedded iPaaS solution

Unfortunately, the embedded iPaaS landscape is littered with vendors that fail to address all the features above. Instead, vendors typically fall in one of two ends of the following spectrum:

A spectrum that ranges from simple to complex
  • Simple: The embedded iPaaS is low-code, intuitive, and, as a result, allows your team to take a significant number of integrations live in short order. However, these integrations tend to offer limited functionality, tackle low-value use cases, and fail to scale as your customers’ needs evolve.
  • Complex: The embedded iPaaS offers an API management layer, robust security and governance, and it can tackle complex use cases. And yet, it requires significant technical expertise to use. This makes it all but impossible for citizen integrators to use the platform, which in turn, makes the platform incapable of addressing the high volume of product integrations and automations that need to be built.

Workato’s modern embedded iPaaS blends the best of both ends, offering all of the features highlighted earlier—and a whole lot more. 

To learn more about our modern embedded iPaaS, and to understand how it can help your team, you can schedule a demo with one of our automation experts.

About the author
Jon Gitlin Content Strategist @ Workato
Jon Gitlin is the Managing Editor of The Connector, where you can get the latest news on Workato and uncover tips and frameworks for implementing powerful integrations and automations. In his free time, he loves to run outside, watch soccer (er...football) matches, and explore local restaurants.