Nearly every B2B SaaS company today has a backlog of integration requests from prospects and customers. Embedded iPaaS emerged as a category in 2020 as a solution to this problem, by enabling SaaS companies to more rapidly deliver the integrations their customers need, which ultimately enables them to focus engineering resources towards their core product. Due to the scale of the problem, the embedded iPaaS category has grown significantly over the past few years, with new vendors entering the market every quarter.
However, given the embedded nature of these solutions, the decision to partner with a vendor cannot be made lightly, as you’ll want to rely on it for the entire lifecycle of your product.
There are currently only a handful of players in the embedded iPaaS space that have a product that is designed and built specifically for the embedded use case. In this article, we’ll take you through the top embedded iPaaS providers in 2023, and compare them across multiple factors, including:
- Feature set
- Developer experience
- Pre-built integrations/connectors
Let’s get right into it.
- The top embedded iPaaS providers are Paragon, Prismatic, Workato Embedded, Tray Embedded and Cyclr.
- Paragon provides the best developer experience, is the most extensible, and provides the best technical support, but doesn’t have as many integrations as some of the other vendors.
- Prismatic was built specifically for the embedded use case, has the most product features, but is hindered by their infrastructure’s lack of scalability.
- The ‘wrapped’ version of Workato’s main product offers the largest number of pre-built connectors, but the product requires a lot of workarounds to embed and is not white-labeled/native to your product.
- Tray Embedded provides a decent solution for operations teams who want a low-code iPaaS, but Tray as a company is too focused on their main product for their Embedded solution to really be competitive.
- Cyclr is the oldest and cheapest embedded iPaaS solution in this article, but their integrations’ endpoint coverage is limited and the overall developer experience is clunky.
Top Embedded iPaaS #1: Paragon
Paragon has been built for the embedded integrations use case, and is designed to be used by the engineers that are responsible for developing the native integrations for their product.
- Fully managed, including access/refresh tokens
- Any OAuth or API key based integration - even for custom integrations
Extensible Workflow Builder
Paragon comes with an extensible workflow builder out of the box, which is both intuitive and powerful for developers, in order to ensure any use case can be built out.
It combines the ease of use of pre-built abstractions over the 3rd party API into workflow actions, with the ability to still make requests to any endpoint.
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White-labeled, native end-user UI
Paragon enables you to provide your customers a fully white-labeled and truly native experience.
No redirects. No iFrames.
Additionally, the pre-built UI enables you to easily provide customer-defined configuration, such picklist selection or even dynamic (custom) object and field mapping.
Task History & Task History API
With the Paragon's Task History, you will have a full log of every single workflow execution that occurs for every one of your users, the status of those executions, and the ability to dive into/replay any individual workflow execution.
Paragon provides full observability into every step execution, which makes it extremely easy to test workflows as your team builds the integration, and equips your team with the best visibility for debugging errors when they occur.
Additionally, through the Task History API, you can also query workflow execution data for insights on:
- The most popular workflows and integrations for your customers
- Task usage volumes between various cohorts of your customer base
Real-time error notifications
Event destinations allow you to get notified of workflow or authentication errors in real-time when they occur, be it through Slack or your existing error management stack (ie. Sentry, Datadog, New Relic)
Connected Users Dashboard
The customer-centric dashboard enables your support team to easily debug and manage your users’ integration states.
This will accelerate your team’s incidence response time, and empower your support team to fix, or at a minimum, communicate effectively with your customers on any errors that occur even before your engineers can get to it.
While API abstractions are somewhat commodities, this is one of the areas where Paragon is playing catch up against some of the other solutions.
At the time of this article, there are nearly 100 pre-built integrations in its catalog. While Paragon doesn’t have as many connectors as the older iPaaS players in this list, 5-10 new integrations are being added every month to the catalog, with plans to further accelerate the pace.
Custom integration builder
Additionally, Paragon is one of the only solutions that provide a Custom Integration Builder, which enables you to build any SaaS integration on Paragon, even if it’s not in our catalog. Aside from the 3rd party API abstractions, you will get to leverage every feature of the platform, from auth management to monitoring.
Scalability and reliability
From a technical point of view, Paragon’s core infrastructure is robust and scalable. It’s been load-tested to handle millions of requests simultaneously, which means you’ll have an embedded iPaaS partner that will be able to accommodate your growth as you scale and add more integrations. We also provide robust auto-retry and auto-scaling capabilities that ensure your workflows will not fail even if the 3rd party service is down or when your customers’ task usage spikes.
Paragon is GDPR compliant and SOC 2 certified.
If your business requires an embedded iPaaS to be deployed on your own infrastructure for security reasons, Paragon has you covered there, too. We offer self-serve, on-premise deployment that matches your in-house security standards – even regulations as complex as HIPAA, SOC 2 and GDPR.
One of the most valuable aspects of working with Paragon is the level of technical support you will receive. Being dedicated to providing the best developer experience, you will not be put through layers of non-technical support just to finally talk to an engineer that knows what they’re talking about, unlike Tray and Workato who are primarily focused on their core product that serves non-technical operations teams. Companies like MainStem and Trustpage have all expressed that this is one of their favorite parts about partnering with Paragon.
Roadmap and future
Paragon is dedicated to building the best developer platform for building native SaaS integrations, and will continue to invest in providing a seamless and robust solution that your developers will love.
If you want to discuss your integration use case and see if Paragon can help your team save at least 70% of the integration development effort, book a demo with our team today.
Top Embedded iPaaS #2: Prismatic
Prismatic is an up and coming embedded iPaaS that primarily serves SaaS businesses in niche verticals, such as agritech. Unlike some of the other embedded iPaaS solutions later on in this article, Prismatic was built specifically with the embedded iPaaS use case in mind, just like Paragon.
Prismatic offers managed authentication services for integrations used by your users and takes care of managing the token refresh policies for each application on your behalf.
The process of having your end-users configure integrations using Prismatic's UI is not the most intuitive. If you want to enable integrations for your customers, you have three options:
- Use Prismatic's embedded marketplace, a full integrations page that you will embed in your application
- Embed individual modals for every integration, similar to Paragon’s Connect Portal
- Provide your customers a self-serve Prismatic account to log in and configure their own instances manually
Additionally, when end-users configure their integrations, they have to specify the endpoints they want to synchronize data between within the Prismatic dashboard, which can be confusing and error-prone. However overall, they do provide a more white-labeled experience than some of the alternatives further down.
Workflows and extensibility
Ease of use
Despite offering ‘pre-built actions’ with their connectors, there is no enforcement of values nor the ability to easily map data to various fields in the 3rd party app, which will often lead to errors in integration logic.
In the screenshot above, you can see that Prismatic's pre-built Salesforce connector has a "Create Record" action, but it only allows free-text input for record types and doesn't offer a way to reference the fields contained within those types. As a result, engineers still need to refer to Salesforce API documentation to understand object types and field types, rendering the API abstractions and pre-built actions less effective.
"Keep in mind that although Prismatic's low code environment makes it simpler to build integrations, you will need to thoroughly understand the API of the platforms you build integrations for to make a successful integration. Integrations will still require this understanding until platforms continue improving and simplifying their APIs." - SaaS Product Manager, G2 review.
According to Prismatic's documentation, users must use a workaround to reference data outputs from previous steps. This highlights a severe scalability challenge with Prismatic's infrastructure. The ability to map specific snippets of data to fields in subsequent workflow steps is crucial for saving engineering time, whether it's data from an event payload or from a third-party webhook.
However, Prismatic's documentation shows that they lack an efficient method of storing only the relevant fields that need to be called in subsequent steps in a workflow. Instead, they are forced to store entire outputs of every step within an integration. If a user builds an integration with slightly complex logic, they may experience delayed executions that will time out, leading to data loss for their customers.
This is a problem that our engineering team faced when building Paragon years ago, and it took us months to refactor our infrastructure to address it.
Overall, however, the developer experience on Prismatic is a mixed one. There are some developer-friendly features that are worth highlighting. Developers can create custom components, enabling them to integrate with third-party apps through http. You can also set configuration variables that are specific to a specific customer, thereby giving them a unique integration instance.
And, like with some of the other solutions in this article, the logging tools Prismatic has created provide visibility across all the integrations built on their platform, making it easy to spot bugs early. Actually fixing those bugs isn’t always possible though, since Prismatic will only let you test entire workflows, not individual steps in isolation.
The weakest part of Prismatic is its workflow builder, which is not especially intuitive or seamless. The only way to reference data outputs from previous workflow steps is through a workaround, which is likewise going to slow your engineers down, and testing individual steps is not as straightforward. Additionally, their front end suffers from consistent performance issues, as shared by multiple reviewers.
"The UI/UX is very limiting. I often need to refresh the page to proceed with my task. This can be very problematic when building or editing a flow because there is no auto-save feature and refreshing will remove all changes if not saved."
Prismatic, being a newer company, has approximately 80 supported integrations in their catalog. However, we do see them publishing new integrations every month. While they do provide the ability to make requests to non-supported integrations as steps within a workflow, they do not offer the ability to build and deploy complete custom integrations on their platform.
Prismatic adheres to robust security standards, with the company complying with both GDPR and SOC 2 regulations, and recently acquiring HIPAA certification. However, they do not provide an on-premise/self-hosted deployment option, which may be a potential blocker if your customers have extremely stringent security requirements.
The level of technical support offered is also better than some of the other companies on this list. Reviews share that Prismatic provides helpful hands-on support throughout the process of working with them.
Unfortunately, Prismatic doesn’t scale particularly well. They provide a lower entry point than many of the other platforms, but with their per-instance pricing (aka per user per integration), your costs can quickly become unpredictable as you scale the number of users your platform has as well as the number of integrations you want to offer.
Top Embedded iPaaS #3: Workato Embedded
Workato is best-known for its dominance in the workflow automation industry. However, Workato launched a secondary product, Workato Embedded, as a means of entering the growing embedded iPaaS sector. While they benefit from carrying over some great features that they built out for their core product, it is a double edged sword as they are also limited by the fact that the DNA of their product is handcuffed by their core product.
While Workato technically handles authentication for you, what they're really doing is just creating a Workato Automation instance for each of your users. Given that you'd have to iFrame a Workato dashboard in your application, the authentication process involves you linking your JWT access token to a 'Workato Customer and Team account' via their vendor API key.
From a security standpoint, this means that your customers' tokens will be stored on their servers, which can be a non-starter if your customers have stringent security requirements.
Workato does not provide the ability to white-label its embedded platform, which is not ideal for most SaaS companies wanting to provide a seamless product experience. As a part of their growth strategy, Workato forces you to maintain their branding across the entire integration experience, in order to increase their brand awareness among your users. It’ll be very clear that you are using a third-party platform to manage integrations.
The only way to implement Workato is through an iFrame of their platform, which creates a pretty disjointed experience. As seen in the image of their customer, LivePerson, Workato essentially offers a Zapier-like experience within your application's interface, which may not meet your customers' expectations.
Workato’s strongest value prop is the sheer number of pre-built connectors they provide. They offer 1200+, which is more than any of the other top embedded iPaaS providers that exist today.
This is thanks to their origins in the workflow automation space as well as their reliance on community-built (aka customer-built) connectors. The only downside with the community-built connectors is that Workato is not accountable for the maintenance of those connectors in the case that the 3rd party service's API changes.
Workato comes with simple logging, log streaming and error handling capabilities, however based on reviews for their users, there is a lot to be desired. The biggest issue is that they don't show clear input/outputs throughout the execution of a workflow, and this limitation also prevents step-specific (unit) testing.
"Workato could have the option to run integrations one step at a time, as it would greatly increase recipe debugging. Error handling could also be improved, as a lot of the time the error doesn't show anything and we can't see the HTTP request underneath", says a reviewer.
Given that Workato's core workflow automation product is focused on the enterprise market (which is reflected in their non-scalable pricing model), they do provide a scalable infrastructure that is capable of handling most request volumes that you may have.
Workato is both GDPR & SOC II compliant, but they only offer a cloud deployment of their platform. Unfortunately, given that Workato Embedded is handcuffed by their core product, Workato is unable to offer a truly self-hosted on-permise deployment option - they rely on an on-prem agent that still communicates with their servers, which means that your customers’ data will have to pass through their servers no matter what.
While Workato's internal automation product is often used by more technical operations teams, and at times even developers, their support staff is ultimately equipped to support the workflow automation product more than it is the embedded. Requests often get backlogged if it does not align with their core product's use case, which can be a detriment to customers of their secondary, embedded iPaaS product.
Workato is known to be one of the most expensive platforms on the market, for what is essentially a secondary product that is not dedicated to the embedded use case. This is in part due to the brand equity that they were able to build with their core workflow automation product, but with all the workarounds required and the subpar end-user experience, the price tag can be hard to justify.
Top Embedded iPaaS #4: Tray Embedded
Tray is another leading workflow automation platform that is more of a mid-market competitor to Workato. Just like Workato, Tray launched Tray Embedded, a workaround product that draws from their core RPA foundations to tackle the embedded iPaaS use case.
While Tray technically handles the authorization flow, the experience for both your developers and your customers is not optimal. At its core, Tray is essentially creating an a Tray.io account for each of your users. Then, via their API and a few workarounds, you need to manually generate an access token to Tray and link each ‘Tray User’ to a unique integration instance and workflow (or what they call a solution instance). This is due to Tray masking their regular product’s method of creating integration instances, which is not conducive to a seamless authentication experience for the embedded use case. From a security standpoint, this also means that your customers' tokens will be stored on their servers, which can be a non-starter if your customers have stringent security requirements.
The biggest problem with Tray Embedded is that Tray’s product roadmap is focused on their core internal automation product, not their embedded iPaaS offering. You see this most clearly in Tray Embedded’s authentication process for end-users, which is handcuffed to Tray’s core product.
Out of the box, end-users are taken to an external Tray URL for authentication for their integrations with an inelegant UI, which makes it clear to users that the integration is not truly native. The only compromise is with a domain matching, which masks the URL of the authentication popup, but does not address the rest of the UI challenges.
Tray Embedded leverages the 600 pre-built connectors from Tray’s core product. This gives customers access to a wide range of different integrations, with a high chance that you’ll find something there that’s relevant for your users. If you want to integrate with an app that’s not in Tray’s catalog, you can pay Tray $3000 to build it for you.
Unfortunately, they do not provide a custom integration builder that makes it easy for you to deploy unsupported integrations at this time.
While Tray does provide basic logging and the ability to easily retry workflows, there is an inherent lack of attention to detail around error-handling and resiliency features such as auto-retry. When external services throw an error, such as hitting rate limits in a bulk update job, Tray’s workflow engine will often cease to retry and complete the workflow.
Additionally, the lack of versioning in their platform also presents challenges when troubleshooting issues, making it hard to roll back an update/release of a workflow.
Like most solutions on this list, Tray Embedded doesn’t offer on-premise deployment. This means that your customer data will always have to go through their cloud infrastructure, with risks to your data security if that infrastructure were ever to fail. However, if cloud is sufficient, Tray does comply with both SOC 2 and GDPR, but not HIPAA.
Similar to Workato, Tray is geared towards operations teams that want a no-code experience, and their team is trained to provide support for that use case. However the embedded iPaaS solution they offer requires much more technical support, and from talking to their customers (or ex-customers), getting access to developer support requires layers of unhelpful, non-technical support. In scenarios where bugs are impacting your own customers' experience with the integrations, this can be incredibly disadvantageous.
Tray Embedded is fairly expensive compared to the other embedded iPaaS providers in this article, with an annual platform fee of $20k, plus an additional $7k per integration. Given the pricing scales per user and per integration, these costs can only grow as your business develops.
Top Embedded iPaaS #5: Cyclr
Based in the UK, Cyclr is the oldest embedded iPaaS provider on the market, although they still seem split between serving internal automation and the embedded use case, with customers that are in the consumer/retail space such as Monica Vinader.
Many of their case studies are for internal workflow automation for D2C brands/services.
They recently raised prices, bringing their pricing closer to other solutions on the market, but their product fails to deliver the extensibility and the seamless experience that modern SaaS companies should expect from an embedded solutions provider.
While this was a recent update, Cyclr now provides managed authentication for your users’ integrations and manages the various token refresh policies for each application on your behalf, which b