Unified APIs vs Embedded iPaaS: a closer look at the integrations ecosystem

by Endgrate Team 2023-07-30

When looking at outsourcing integrations to accelerate your product roadmap, two solutions are likely to surface: unified APIs, and Embedded Integration Platform as a Service (Embedded iPaaS).

In this article, we'll go over the definitions of the two software systems, pros and cons of each, and our suggested approach for your product integrations.

Unified APIs

Your product connecting to multiple categories and then a Unified API.

With a Unified API, your product has to connect to each category, with limited support for custom integrations, coverage, and extensibility.

Unified APIs aggregate many different integrations into specific categories. Essentially, they provide a layer of abstraction that can communicate with multiple APis simultaneously. For example, let's say your customers need your product to integrate with CRMs (Salesforce, HubSpot, Zoho, etc.). With a Unified API, instead of creating these individual integrations, you would integrate with one CRM Unified API with a generalized data model. Some of their benefits include:

  • Offers a wide variety of integrations, so that you only have to connect to each Unified API category once.
  • A dashboard for configuring integration access and monitoring your customers' integrations.
  • Robust security and standards, with data encryption at rest and in transit.

At a first glance, the value proposition of Unified APIs suggest that they are a very convenient solution for tackling integrations. However, in reality it's not that simple. The infrastructure behind Unified APIs make them fall victim to a host of problems, including:

  • Depth of coverage: Unified APIs only cover a single app category, such as CRM, accounting, or task management. As a result, if you want to integrate with multiple categories, you need to connect to multiple APIs. In the event that the integration you need is not covered by any of the existing Unified API categories, you are required to build the integration yourself.
  • Lack of extensibility: Unified APIs at their core provide a common abstraction for many applications. As a result, as more integrations are supported in a category, the less deeply integrated the Unified API can be in terms of custom fields, required data types, rate limits, and more. Therefore, custom integration is often required to cover all of the fields that a customer may require.
  • User experience: typically, Unified APIs come with limited support for your user experience. They do not support the entire flow (i.e. the front-end) of allowing your customers to select an integration, authenticate, map fields, and view the status of their data transfers.

Embedded iPaaS

Your product connecting to multiple categories and then a Unified API.

With an Embedded iPaaS solution, your product needs to connect to the iPaaS and manually build each workflow, which lacks scalability and ease-of-use.

Embedded iPaaS consists of a cloud-based integration platform that is embedded into your product. Embedded iPaaS solutions typically were created as productivity automation software for individual users looking to automate tasks across different integrations. These solutions were then converted for embedded use in products. As such, the process connecting to these platforms is twofold. First, connecting to the platform itself, and second, having to manually build out each integration as a “workflow” (sometimes called a “connector) in a low-code environment. Here are the benefits of such a system:

  • Support for custom, broad-ranging integrations.
  • Some tools provide you with pre-built workflows for a handful of common use cases.
  • Robust security and standards, with data encryption at rest and in transit.

Because iPaaS software is usually focused on productivity automation use cases (in terms of operating based on low-code workflows), it falls short when it comes to the iPaaS software provider's embedded solution:

  • Lack of scalability: you have to manually build integrations one at a time using their low-code workflow software.
  • Hard to use: The low-code workflow platforms typically require technical engineers on your team to be trained to use them. Each integration comes with its own nuances that you will still have to tackle, such as dealing with custom fields, required data types, and field mapping.


Unified APIs allow companies to integrate with specific categories, but fall short in depth of coverage, extensibility, and user experience. Embedded iPaaS solutions support broad-ranging integrations, however they must be manually built and configured one integration at a time.

Endgrate: one connection, 100+ integrations, instantly.

Your product connecting to multiple categories and then a Unified API.

With Endgrate, your product only needs to connect with us once.

Endgrate takes a unique approach to helping companies with their integration roadmap. Instead of using a sub-optimal unified API or having to manually build out integrations with Embedded iPaaS, Endgrate's solution lets companies instantly gain access to 100+ integrations.

Endgrate is not limited by the issues that occur when using unified APIs - one Endgrate connection is all that is needed to access integrations over a wide variety of categories such as CRM, marketing, accounting, ATS, and more. Endgrate fully handles integration nuances such as custom fields, required data types, and rate limiting. Furthermore, Endgrate comes built-in with full front-end support for your customers' user experience.

In addition, it doesn't take any configuration or workflow setup to build an integration on Endgrate. Endgrate supports 100+ integrations out of the box, with new integrations built fast - custom integration requests come at no extra cost or setup.

To learn more about how Endgrate can help you turn integrations into your product's competitive edge, book a demo.