Dell adds ‘big data’ connector to Boomi cloud integration platform

The new version of cloud integration software offers Hadoop connectors, increased security and new regression testing capabilities.

The latest version of Dell Boomi’s cloud integration platform offers optional connectors to the Apache Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS), a technology commonly used for the management and analysis of big data stores. 

Unveiled earlier this week, Dell Boomi Atomsphere Summer 12 also offers expanded application and data integration capabilities, enhanced security features and a new “crowd-sourced” testing option, Rick Nucci, general manager of Dell Boomi, said in an interview.

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On the big data front, Nucci explained that organizations typically load big data sets into HDFS and then run MapReduce to shrink the data sets to a more manageable size. With the Summer 12 Update, Boomi can now be used to integrate the results of those operations with other data sets and applications, whether they reside in-house or in the cloud. Boomi is just one of a growing list of software vendors -- including Oracle, IBM and Informatica -- that have unveiled Hadoop connectors in recent months.

“You can take the large data set and load it into the system, let Hadoop and MapReduce do its thing, then take the resulting subset and then process it back to where it needs to go,” Nucci said. “This is now a native connector that we have.”

Dell Boomi is a multi-tenant, cloud-based application that integrates applications and data in IT environments. Dell, which acquired data integration software maker Boomi Inc. in late 2010, said the technology serves as a connection between applications regardless of whether they reside on-premises or in the cloud.

Dell Boomi is available in three editions. The Base edition starts at $550 a month and offers two connections. The Professional edition starts at $1,400 a month and offers three connections and three test connections. The Enterprise edition starts at $7,000 a month and offers seven connections and eight test connections, according to Dell.

Dell Boomi features and functionality

In addition to the new Hadoop connectors, the latest update to Dell Boomi AtomSphere offers a new join function that allows users to create joins between multiple sources and keep them in-memory for faster access, according to Dell.

The software also offers a new bulk-copy feature, which allows organizations to easily load large volumes of information into a database, thereby increasing the number of integration projects that can be centrally managed.

Dell says Boomi AtomSphere Summer 12’s support for Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML)-based single sign-on gives users more flexibility in managing security policies. SAML-based single sign-on allows for centralized management of user access policy enhancements.

“As a Boomi administrator, you can decide which roles you want to view the data in a very fine-grained manner,” Nucci said. “It’s centrally controlled now so there is no way for a Boomi user to kind of work around that.”

Dell Boomi’s new crowd-sourced testing option -- dubbed Boomi Assure -- allows users to submit any integration that they have built into a centralized testing platform, according to Nucci. Boomi Assure lets users make sure that any integration they build is compatible with the most recent updates to Dell Boomi software and back-end infrastructure, he added.

Beware the cloud integration learning curve
The most interesting thing about Dell Boomi software is its self-titled “atom” architecture -- which is what the name AtomSphere is derived from -- according to Carl Lehmann, an IT industry analyst and research manager in the integration and business process management group at Boston-based 451 Research LLC.

“You can build an atom, which really defines what is necessary for the integration, and either run it in a cloud or run it locally,” Lehmann said. “You can build a bunch of atoms to do a bunch of different things, and they each capture data about the integrations and can report it back to a reporting or monitoring tool.”

Lehmann said Dell Boomi is relatively easy to use, but he cautioned that new users should be prepared for a learning curve.

“I can understand people struggling with the atom concept because you have to have a little bit of background and experience in managing distributed architecture,” Lehmann said. “But you don’t need a Ph.D. in the subject.”

More advice for cloud integration hunters
Organizations considering cloud integration technology should be prepared to ask vendors like Dell many questions during the proof of concept process, according to Kirk Heughens, the application integration leader at AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah, a popular auto club.

During an interview earlier this year, Heughens shared a list of more than 100 questions that he has asked cloud integration vendors during the product evaluation process. The questions were designed to make sure that AAA NCNU found the right vendor for its requirements while quickly ruling out the wrong ones. Heughens and his team ultimately chose Dell Boomi for the company's integration needs over IBM Cast Iron and Jitterbit

Some of the questions on Heughens’ list include, How do you integrate a cloud application with an on-premises application? How do you connect to on-premises applications located in different geographic locations? How do you handle security when connecting cloud to on-premises? How do you support real-time integrations?

“I’ve been in IT for 25-plus years,” Heughens said. “I’ve done a lot of software evaluations and software purchases over the years.”

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