Famed for their evangelical implementation of the SaaS delivery model, Workday is the manifestation of ‘true cloud’ software; however it is their lesser-publicised delivery model I want to discuss– embedded iPaaS.
PaaS provides infrastructure software, such as integration mechanisms, storage areas and runtime environments, upon which applications are built and deployed, examples include Heroku and Gigaspaces. iPaaS is a specialised form of infrastructure software which makes no provision for building applications, being solely designed to service the development, execution and governance of integration flows between any combination of cloud service and system. Gartner recognise four categories of iPaaS:
- Stand-alone iPaaS offerings which can be subscribed to independently of any application, such as Dell Boomi;
- Embedded iPaaS offerings which can only be used as part of an overall solution offering, such as Force;
- Cloudstream-enabler iPaaS offerings which provide a form of packaged integration process that implements a common integration requirement, such as Informatica;
- Cloud Services Brokerage iPaaS which provide end-to-end integration solutions to business problems, such as Jamcracker.
Workday’s integration platform falls into both the embedded iPaaS and cloudstream-enabler iPaaS categories above. The embedded iPaaS is used to develop and execute custom integration components in order to perform specific integration functions, such as exchanging worker compensation information with global payroll providers. These integration components can be designed, implemented and deployed both by Workday end-users and specialist Workday Integration Consultants, for low and high complexity integrations respectively.
- Low-complexity integrations, representing simple, point-to-point interactions which send data to, or request data from, a specific endpoint are configured using the Enterprise Interface Builder (EIB), which is accessed from the Workday tenant. EIB integrations then execute on predefined schedules or on a real-time basis using Workday’s iPaaS. EIB integrations are cloud-configured and cloud-deployed;
- Medium-complexity integrations are often addressed using packaged, Cloud Connect integration components which are pre-built by Workday. These are configured using the Workday tenant and provide integration functionality for common use cases such as exchanging data with financial systems and benefits providers. These integrations fall under the cloudstream-enabler iPaaS category. Cloud Connect integrations are cloud-configured and cloud-deployed;
- Large-complexity integrations, comprising multiple data sources, compound programming logic and multiple data destinations exist as Workday Studio integrations. These components are developed locally as SOA assemblies using Workday’s IDE and are deployed to Workday’s integration platform for execution. Studio integrations are locally-developed and cloud-deployed.
The key benefit of these offerings is that onsite infrastructure or software for integrations is no longer necessary. The maintenance and management responsibilities for everything except the application-specific integration component are pushed out of customer organisations, with Workday assuming the operational risk of providing this service. And as this service is provided for all Workday customers, it provides military-grade security, resiliency and scalability in the precisely the same way as the SaaS-delivered Workday application. The Workday integration platform will evolve as technology evolves, will extend as your integration demands increase and will seamlessly failover if or when such scenarios occur. The best part is that as an embedded iPaaS, this is all included in your Workday subscription.
Right Here, Right Now
I was lucky enough to represent Kainos at the Cloud Computing Expo New York in June last year where I was party to a number of discussions on ‘middleware of the future’ where vendors were anticipating cool things like ‘Integration-on-demand’ and ‘Cloud-delivered for C2C touch points’. I took stock for a moment and chuckled to myself, realising that the ‘future’ as these guys were discussing was in fact the present and yet again Workday were among the leaders that had brought us here.