BLOG
Point-to-Point vs iPaaS Integrations

Date

By Julián Fernández-Campón, CTO Tedial

Since 2019, MovieLabs has been developing a conceptual framework for the digital transformation of content creation. The model is organized around principles and ontologies that serve as a guide for everyone, including software companies, content producers, and distributors.

MovieLabs* recently published an insightful paper titled “Interoperability in Media Creation: Enabling Flexibility and Efficiency through Interoperable and Composable Software-Defined Workflows.” This document describes a set of interoperability principles designed to serve as guidelines for the M&E industry in implementing solutions and benchmarks for measuring progress.

Today, it is a common practice for M&E organizations to use a wide variety of platforms, tools, and technologies to operate their businesses. However, as the organization expands, it can be overwhelmed by all these disjointed tools that do not communicate with each other.

Software integrations are important to ensure that all your systems work together to reduce manual input, increase productivity, and improve data records. When your software is integrated, platforms can communicate better with each other, and automations can run smoothly, optimizing business operations and enabling your team to work more effectively.

MovieLabs defines the Reusable integrations as: the integration of each component is reusable, for example, using APIs and common platforms and minimizing custom point-to-point integrations.

Over the last twenty years, process automation in the M&E market has been dominated by point-to-point integrations between applications, using MAM system orchestrators and media supply chain platforms to implement workflows. This has worked reasonably well until the current explosion of multiple available SaaS applications. In this new reality, point-to-point integration is not something we would recommend unless you have a very simple technology stack with very limited integration needs and that will be maintained over the years, which is not the case in most of the media companies nowadays.

Fortunately, there is an alternative. Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) is a single, unified platform that aids in the integration of applications and data. iPaaS platforms use a simplified UX/UI design to allow non-developers to manage their own integrations. It is the no-code approach to designing applications and solutions for the M&E market. With iPaaS, users can develop integration flows that connect applications residing in the cloud or on-premises and then deploy them without installing or managing any hardware, being self-sufficient and free from vendor lock-in.

Point-to-Point Integration

Point-to-point integration is a tightly coupled integration between two or more endpoints, allowing communication to share any data between the integrated parties. It might make sense to use it only in scenarios where the ecosystem of applications is small and there is no need to onboard new ones.

Figure 1 (source: MovieLabs) shows how point-to-point integrations work. When an application completes its tasks, it notifies the next application in the flow and all the necessary information needs to be passed to be able to continue the execution of the flow. This requires a direct integration between the two applications.

Figure 1 (source: MovieLabs) Notification flow using point-to-point notifications

In a point-to-point integration architecture, when two applications need to communicate with each other, a connector is created to establish a connection. A connector is a bridge that allows structured access to data (metadata and media files) or application functionalities.

Connectors handle the complexities of message translation, integration, and any other related message operations used to access application functions. When it is necessary to change the position of an application in the flow or introduce a new one, it is necessary to modify the flow and update the connections/connectors between the involved applications.

But what happens when the results of an application are input to multiple applications, distributed across different stages of the media supply chain? The complexity grows exponentially.

Figure 2 shows a conventional interaction scenario where applications need to exchange data and notifications to carry out the business logic defined in a workflow and designed with a point-to-point orchestrator.

Figure 2 (source: Tedial) Point-to-point orchestrator

Point-to-point integration turns into a nightmare when a new application or system is introduced because integration logic needs to be scripted across all existing systems to facilitate the integration of the new application. With numerous components interacting, the traditional point-to-point integration approach introduces significant complexity, impacting the communication channel’s topology and the semantics of the protocol. This complexity makes supporting and evolving the platform exceedingly challenging, consequently severely constraining business growth opportunities.

iPaaS integration

iPaaS is based on the principle that there is a central piece of software that communicates with each individual application (one-to-many) and essentially translates, reformats, and restructures data and media files as needed on the fly as it transmits data and media files from one application to another.

Figure 3 (source: MovieLabs) shows the conceptual diagram of iPaaS, which frees applications in the media supply chain from integrating with each other. They only need to integrate with iPaaS. Let’s look at some of its advantages:

Figure 3 (source: MovieLabs) Notification flows using a common workflow management data platform

  • iPaaS is application independent. It provides services that mediate between applications. (Acts as a broker)
  • iPaaS hides the complexities of the underlying operating system and network to facilitate easy integration of new and legacy systems.
  • iPaaS is particularly suitable for larger and more intricate connections, as well as for processes that undergo frequent changes. The concept is founded on an enterprise-grade, highly scalable tool, making it an ideal solution for addressing the demands of complex and dynamic environments.
  • iPaaS can handle information originating from customer requests or front-end applications and tailor the response to meet specific business requirements.
  • iPaaS guarantees an authenticated secure connection and dynamically manages traffic between distributed systems.
  • iPaaS enables real-time access to workflow information and all systems involved in the process without the need to access each one individually, thus enhancing efficiency and maximizing the utilization of all applications involved in business processes.

Figure 4 shows the concept of one-to-many integration of iPaaS for media by Tedial smartWork. Applications and systems communicate through smartWork, eliminating the need for direct communication between them. As a result, they only require integration with the smartWork platform, ensuring interoperability and compatibility with other applications and systems within the media supply chain defined by each M&E organization.

Figure 4 (source: Tedial) One-to-many integration platform


Conclusions

Point-to-point integrations present significant obstacles to designing efficient media supply chains, resulting in increased costs, complexity, and delays in the digital transformation of M&E organizations.

Point-to-point integration does not scale easily, and solutions become very convoluted when all integration logic is added. In addition, the code software developers need to write to handle these integrations is complex and very difficult to maintain and evolve.

Sometimes orchestrators offering point-to-point integrations are compared and even put at the same level to iPaaS. It’s true that both execute workflows, but the approach of the iPaaS is totally different as it addresses the interoperability issues globally by the platform and not app-to-app integration.

iPaaS streamlines the integration process and simplifies complexities, particularly when dealing with multiple applications, by isolating the unique characteristics of each integration in a single point: The plugin that communicates with the application.

Scalability is also assured, as adding systems or applications becomes much simpler and easier to maintain. Systems and applications only need to integrate with iPaaS, ensuring interoperability and compatibility through one-to-many integration.

In addition to solving complexity and scalability issues, iPaaS must provide a set of properties to enable a seamless digital transformation: intuitive UIs based on a No-Code approach, simple wizards to guide users through the systems integration processes, easy deployment, customization, maintenance, and scalability. It also needs to provide a set of best practices to have pre-designed integrations that can be licensed, reused, and federated in different areas of the organization.

And lastly iPaaS pricing model needs to be aligned with the customer’s business growth from small to large companies.

smartWork, Tedial’s iPaaS for media, is the alternative to classic point-to-point orchestrators of legacy MAMs and media supply chain platforms. To accelerate digital transformation in the M&E landscape, software technology providers need to adopt the best practices and proven and deployed tools in mature IT markets. This involves adopting no-code solutions that guarantee interoperability, scalability, resilience, and security.

Reference paper:* https://movielabs.com/production-technology/the-2030-vision/

Share Post

More
articles