If your organisation is using a variety of applications, systems, and databases in the cloud or locally, you’ve probably come across IPaaS (Integrated Platform as a Service).
You may even have a licence through a popular vendor.
But even if you use it there’s a chance it’s not giving you or your students the best possible experience.
Higher Education has undergone major changes in recent years and trends suggest that many IT departments are seeing reduced budgets, resulting in a possible ‘brain drain’ of talent in the coming years. Understaffed or overwhelmed IT departments aren’t necessarily getting the best out of their tech.
Despite that, the need for digital transformation can’t be ignored.
A recent report from KPMG said that institutions investing in technological capabilities like seamless user experiences, secure and intelligent architecture and data driven strategies are “2.1 times as likely to deliver customer experiences that exceed expectations.”
Amos Connect provides an alternative solution to IPaaS. There’s no official terminology for it but we quite like Integration as a Service (or IaaS).
In this article we’ll be looking at the differences between IPaaS and IaaS.
Here’s a little refresher on IPaaS to get us started.
Your institution runs various databases, programs, and services that are used by both students and staff. An Integrated Platform as a Service links them all together so that information can be shared across different applications and data can be updated across your network. Much like with SaaS, IaaS and PaaS, this is all run in the cloud, meaning the infrastructure, servers and maintenance are taken care of remotely.
There are several big players in the IPaaS market including Dell Boomi, MuleSoft, Oracle SOA and the AIS Message Bus Platform. These are all capable of setting up student information systems with compliant integrations. Popular cloud apps like Zapier, Microsoft Power Apps, Automate and more, also provide ways of setting up these integrations yourself.
The main downside with these solutions is that they leave the process of integrating specific apps, programs, and databases in the hands of the user. It also assumes your department has the technical capability to make this work.
In other words, you’ve got the tools and the parts, but you need to build it.
This is where IaaS comes in. To explain the differences, we’ll use a car as an analogy.
Like with SaaS, IPaaS vendors deliver their product ‘as a service’ with a monthly fee. So, it’s a bit like leasing a car.
But rather than delivering a fully working car to your front door, fitted out to your very specific requirements, pink leather seats and all, you’ve just got a chassis, an engine, and a garage full of parts.
It’s up to you to put it all together. Sure, you can hire a mechanic to come and sort it out but that will cost a lot and, in the meantime, you’re paying for a car you can’t drive.
This is where a lot of institutions are with their IPaaS system. You’ve got plenty of technical capability but it’s not fully integrated, not ready to go and presents an unknown cost of ownership, given that you’ll need to bring someone on to make it work.
Like IPaaS, ours is a cloud-based service. It’s all run remotely, using secure web based infrastructure. On premise systems are quickly becoming a thing of the past, as the benefits of using the cloud become unavoidable. But there are some significant differences.
Here’s five things that Amos Connect does differently:
IaaS takes the apps, databases, and programs that you need and does the integration for you. What you’re handed at the end of the process is a fully integrated system that works straight away.
Data that needs to exist in multiple locations does so, room booking tools work seamlessly with your class scheduling system and virtual learning environments interact with your student databases.
You’re not relying on your internal team to piece everything together and hope that it works. Instead, you can enlist the help of an experienced external team to do it for you.
Sometimes, technology breaks. There’s not much we can do about that unfortunately.
In sizable organisations like a university, it can be one small change that causes a network wide issue. Maybe an IP address has changed, or a software bug is found that needs updating.
If it’s not diagnosed and dealt with you can get real problems. Huge spills of data or missing information. Of course, your in-house team may be able to identify, diagnose and deal with the issue quickly, but this often isn’t the case.
With Managed Integration as a Service, you don’t need to worry about it. We’ve got it covered (hence the name).
If something goes wrong, we’ll know about it, let you know and if we can, sort out the problem, before any long lasting issues are caused.
This is particularly important when it concerns the real time connectivity of your integrations.
How your integrations connect can vary. With an IaaS system we offer a hybrid suite of integration methods. One of these is using API’s – in built code that allows that app or software to interact with another. Alternatively, it might involve on-premise connections that enable direct database or flat file integrations.
This connectivity monitoring is almost like a heartbeat monitor. In theory API connections should never change. But on rare occasions they are tweaked or something happens that causes that ‘heartbeat’ to fluctuate. This can also happen with on-premise connections.
An IaaS solution can monitor this, check APIs are alive and proactively alert you to any changes that may have taken place, ensuring connectivity is always maintained.
This is a big one. Another huge difference between IPaaS and what Amos delivers is that we provide fixed price integrations. Prior to starting a project, once we have the brief, we’ll provide a quote for the whole project. It will never be more than that.
Once it’s done, it’s done (changes can still be made later of course) and beyond that the only charge is an ongoing support fee. There are no unexpected additional costs because we’ve suddenly discovered we need more time, or something didn’t work the first time. We aim to get it done right under the quote we agreed at the beginning.
There are other pricing models available from popular vendors. Azure AIS for example charges per message sent. We don’t think they offer as attractive a proposition because the overall costs are much harder to determine and don’t offer much long term security.
We know this model is attractive to educational institutions. It’s a known cost of ownership for your integrated system, putting decision makers at ease and helping you plan ahead. Any capital that goes into putting this together will soon produce a return on investment. After all, you’re automating manual workflow, saving staff time and minimising errors, as well as delivering an industry leading digital service to your primary users.
Ok, so this one is particularly unique to our product Amos Connect.
We work solely with Higher Education institutions and have tried and tested sector specific integrations ready to go, out of the box. Sector specific apps and connectors are part of the product we offer.
Our team has decades of combined experience and expertise within the sector, so we’re confident in what we’re building. We’re also sensitive to the academic calendar and plan projects and launches around this.
We know what the situation is on the ground and believe our offering hits all the common pain points.
This is the difference between what we offer and an off the shelf IPaaS solution that may end up costing you way more time and money.