What developers need to know about cloud app integration
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Integration platform as a service (iPaaS) vendors share a common goal of integrating systems in the cloud. The challenge is these systems used to be on-premises, and iPaaS needs to use connectors and adapters between systems. Data is processed en route so it can be used immediately. Middleware historically provided the same services, but on a larger scale. iPaaS vendors are working to provide the same middleware services at a much lower price, while integrating enterprise systems with cloud, as well as between public clouds, private clouds and systems migrating to the cloud.
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Of course, the option still remains for an organization to build and support its own infrastructure and platform. Before taking this path, organizations need to consider their development resources and the complications of interoperability. An iPaaS service may provide a skeletal structure in which to develop a custom-built system.
iPaaS services have matured and are a viable alternative for companies of any size. This article will discuss a few of the iPaaS vendors. It will review a set of "young" companies that were developed in the cloud services age, as well as a set of "graybeard" companies that have modified their services for the cloud.
MuleSoft: MuleSoft features a platform named Anypoint that claims to be the only complete platform for SOA, SaaS and API integration. Anypoint gives users the freedom to connect whatever they want regardless of location (on-premises or in the cloud). In general, MuleSoft reviews are positive in regards to its open source roots. It also has a large user community for advice, questions and support. It is particularly good for integrations that are complex and challenging.
Jitterbit: Jitterbit's Harmony claims to be the only single, unified platform that connects any application. It offers full deployment service in the cloud, on-premises or hybrid. Jitterbit also provides clustered local and cloud agents to enhance scalability and data performance. Additionally, Jitterbit offers source validation data checks and filters data en route. Its customer satisfaction rating is 99%. Jitterbit reviews mention an exceptional data-loading tool that is easy to use and handles large data volumes well. Negative comments frequently mention that it is difficult to use when not integrating with salesforce, or in more complex scenarios.
Dell Boomi: Boomi was an iPaaS service pioneer purchased by Dell Software Group in 2010. Dell Boomi offers its service as AtomSphere. AtomSphere provides data cleansing, validation and content-based routing. It is commonly used to integrate salesforce to on-premises database structures. Boomi uses Web service standards, including REST, to provide integration links between business-to-business and on-premises application-to-application. Dell Boomi reviews indicate an exceptionally easy setup with a short learning curve, great data mapping and a popular browser-based development system. However, there are consistent negative comments around the inability to customize connections and weak documentation.
Informatica: Informatica cloud includes distribution functionality and pre-built application connectors and templates that are customizable. It also provides a management tool, a set of development REST APIs and a Java-based SDK that connects to any cloud. It also connects to on-premises applications or databases. Informatica cloud integration is powered by Vibe, a virtual data machine that maps out business logic for handling data. Reviews on Informatica are positive regarding its salesforce integration, data extraction capabilities from enterprise systems, and ease of use of its toolkits and templates. It's also positively regarded for its large user community for documentation, support and information. Negative statements center on issues with large volumes of data, error-handling problems and problems handling more complex integration scenarios.
IBM Cast Iron: IBM's Cast Iron provides a graphical configuration approach that allows for faster integration. Additionally, pre-configured templates and connectors are included, such as data cleansing, migration and connectivity. It also includes mash up capabilities to integrate across different sources. Mobile application and data processing support is included. IBM Cast Iron gets rave reviews for the drag-and-drop configuration, degree of customization, intuitive connectors and documentation sources. Some negative feedback from customers focused on virtual imaging, as well as difficulty troubleshooting issues within complex connections.
TIBCO: TIBCO, like others, provides pre-configured connectors and templates for many integration types, including social networks. TIBCO cloud bus also allows for real-time data exchange across cloud and on-premises systems. TIBCO receives high praise for its ability to integrate complex enterprise applications (ERP, CRM), flexibility with customizations and overall high performance. There were some negative comments on components requiring more engineering than should be necessary for simple connector requirements.
These are just a few options. There are many more available to be researched and considered. In order to choose the best fit, organizations must explicitly define their technical needs and match those to financial requirements. The "youngsters" represent companies that have been successfully developed around cloud services, and the "graybeards" have experience with demanding integration projects. They are systems that have been added to or re-engineered to work with cloud services. An important consideration is what the organizations development staff has experience in regards to code tool sets and templates. Large established companies and smaller newcomers have their advantages and disadvantages, the choice depends on the organizations technical, financial and staff preferences.