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Integrating multiple data sources with an iPaaS

Written by
Saad Merchant
Published on
May 21, 2024

In today’s data-driven world, integrating data from multiple sources is crucial for businesses seeking to leverage comprehensive insights and prevent data inaccuracies. Effective data integration ensures that relevant data from all disparate business systems and applications are consolidated into a single, coherent system, enhancing operational efficiency. Traditional methods of integration involve ETL, data lakes, and data warehousing. However, modern developers and system integrators are now implementing a new cloud-based solution called the iPaaS (integration Platform as a Service), which simplifies application integration and data integration. Let’s explore these different methods of integrating data from multiple sources.

Integrating multiple data sources: integration best practices

Modern businesses store and generate their data across a wide variety of disparate systems and applications based on the diverse nature of their operations and the growing complexity of their digital ecosystems. This includes business operations and financial data stored in ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems like SAP, customer interaction and sales data captured by CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software like Salesforce, marketing performance and customer engagement data tracked by marketing platforms like HubSpot, while e-commerce platforms like Shopify handle transactions, inventory, and order fulfillment.

To add to this, there are social media data sources, cloud storage services, and internal databases scattered across the IT landscape in a disconnected way. Integrating these varied data sources is essential for achieving a unified view of business operations and reducing costly data errors and inconsistencies. This is what makes it crucial for businesses to start integrating data from multiple sources.

What is data integration from multiple sources?

Integrating data from multiple sources involves combining data from different systems, applications, and databases into a unified view. This process ensures that all relevant data is accessible and usable from one central location, enhancing decision-making and business intelligence. Some of the key business challenges that data integration solves include the elimination of data silos and the improvement of data quality issues such as missing values, duplicates, and inaccuracies. As such, integrating multiple data sources results in several crucial business benefits.

The business benefits of data integration from multiple sources

  1. Holistic customer overview: By unifying data from various touchpoints, organizations can gain a 360-degree view of their customers, enabling them to personalize marketing campaigns, improve customer service, and effectively target sales leads and opportunities.
  2. Reduced operational costs: Data integration can help eliminate redundant data storage, prevent data errors, and streamline data management processes, leading to cost savings. Data integration solutions like the iPaaS help synchronize data exchange, preventing the need for manual data entry.
  3. Data-driven decision-making: Integrating multiple data sources provides a comprehensive overview of business operations, market trends, and customer behavior. It also enables streamlined workflows and increases efficiency across various departments.
  4. Data security and privacy compliance: Integrating data from multiple sources on one central platform simplifies data security and makes it easier for modern businesses to comply with privacy legislation like GDRP, which requires them to accurately track, monitor, and retrieve all customer data.

However, business benefits aside, data integration is a complex process due to the varying data formats, structures, and inconsistencies involved when unifying different systems and applications. Thus, it is imperative for modern businesses to choose the most effective solution from the various methods of integration. On that note, let’s delve into the different types of data integration methods.

The different methods of integrating data from multiple sources

There are several approaches to integrating data from multiple sources, from the traditional ETL method to next-gen iPaaS solutions, each with its own advantages and limitations:

1. ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) data integration

ETL is the traditional data integration method that extracts data from source systems, transforms it into a consistent format, and loads it into a target data warehouse or data lake. While ETL is a proven and reliable solution, it can be complex to implement and maintain. ETL is ideal for structured data and ensures data consistency and accuracy.

2. ELT (Extract, Load, Transform) data integration

Unlike ETL, ELT is a varying data integration method that performs the data transformation after it is extracted and loaded into the target system. This approach offers greater flexibility but may impact data processing performance.

3. Data warehousing

Data warehousing involves collecting and managing data from multiple data sources in a centralized repository. It supports extensive querying and analysis, making it easier to generate insights up-to-date insights for real-time decision-making. This method enables continuous data flow from source systems to the target system. It requires robust infrastructure and can be resource-intensive.

4. Data virtualization

Data virtualization allows for real-time data integration without physical data movement. It provides a unified view of data from multiple sources through a virtual layer and allows users to access and manipulate data without knowing its physical location. It works with various data formats and sources, eliminates the need for extensive physical storage, and enables real-time data access and analysis.

5. API integration

APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are essential for integrating cloud-based applications and services. API integration enables different software systems to communicate and share data in real-time, allowing businesses to automate data transfers and updates instantly, which is crucial for dynamic environments like e-commerce and customer service. API integration is an ideal choice for scenarios requiring immediate data synchronization and interoperability.

The iPaaS (integration Platform as a Service) has emerged as a next-gen integration solution that leverages API integration to facilitate both - seamless application integration and data integration. Let’s explore how this new solution is great for integrating multiple data sources.

Read more about real-time data integration vs. batch processing →

The advantage of integrating multiple data sources with the iPaaS

The iPaaS (integration Platform as a Service) is a cloud-based, API-led middleware solution that helps connect multiple applications, systems, and data sources. It provides a user-friendly web interface to create, manage, and monitor all integrations, enabling data transformation and workflow automation features.

Unifying all data sources in one secure cloud environment, the iPaaS synchronizes data across all endpoints and enables real-time data exchange. Advanced iPaaS solutions like Alumio incorporate ETL data integration features along with API integration. Thus, using an iPaaS for integrating multiple data sources, along with applications, offers several advantages over traditional data integration methods such as:

  1. Extensive connectors: iPaaS solutions offer a wide range of connectors (pre-configured data) for popular data sources and applications, which simplifies and speeds up the integration process.
  2. Scalability and flexibility: iPaaS platforms like Alumio are highly scalable, allowing businesses to easily integrate multiple new data sources limitlessly as they grow without significant infrastructure changes.
  3. Cost efficiency: By leveraging cloud-based infrastructure and automating monitoring and logging, iPaaS solutions can lower costs associated with hardware, maintenance, and IT resources.
  4. Enhanced security: iPaaS platforms offer robust security features, ensuring that data integration processes comply with industry standards and regulations, protecting sensitive information.
  5. Faster implementation: iPaaS solutions enable quicker deployment and integration of data sources, accelerating time-to-value for data projects and initiatives.

The need for a central data integration solution

Integrating multiple data sources is a pivotal challenge for modern businesses, but one that can be effectively managed with the right strategies and tools. By adopting integration best practices and leveraging advanced integration solutions such as the iPaaS, businesses can overcome common pitfalls and unlock the full potential of their data.

While ETL, ELT, data warehousing, and data virtualization are still applicable methods of integration, the reason modern businesses are turning to solutions like the iPaaS is that apart from data integration, it also enables application integration, enhances data security, and ensures scalability. What’s more, iPaaS solutions like Alumio include ETL features along with cloud-based API integration.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, modern businesses and developers need to go beyond simply unifying and integrating data from multiple sources or connecting multiple applications. They need to extend this to also find one central, unified solution for application and data integration.

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