February 17, 2015 - Cloud Integration Platforms: Part 2

Cloud Integration Part 2Last week I shared what I have learned about Cloud Integration platforms while working on a technical design document for one of our customers. I wrote about cloud integration basics, then shared an overview of the major players in the cloud integration space: Boomi, Cast Iron, Informatica Cloud and MuleSoftTM.

This week I will continue with an exploration of use cases and limitations for each of these product suites.

Use Cases of Integration Tools:

Cast Iron is great when:

• You’re implementing multiple deployment models such as public cloud and hybrid cloud
• You need batch and real time process integration
• Enterprise connectivity is vital, with multiple enterprise adapters for popular enterprise applications.
• You need a UI Mashup
• You need to accelerate application integration. Cast Iron provides Template Integration Projects (TIPs), a library of integration use cases for most well-known applications. You can download these TIPs from the Cast Iron community and modify them to fit your precise needs. TIPs help companies reduce integration costs by much as 80% compared to custom code. Built-in connectivity to common applications reduces maintenance costs of hand-coding changes when the application providers update their APIs. This feature is not available in Boomi.

When to Use Boomi:

• Boomi provides multiple deployment models through its “Atom” concept where customers can deploy local atoms for cloud-to-cloud or cloud to-on-premises integrations
• For batch or real time process integration
• When you need enterprise connectivity – multiple enterprise adapters are available for popular enterprise applications.
• For UI Mashup
• Boomi Suggest: Boomi Suggest was the industry’s first and only suggestion wizard for data mapping. By anonymously indexing over 50,000 data maps and 13,000 map functions created on the AtomSphere platform, Boomi Suggest leverages previously built maps to recommend and automatically generate mappings for new integrations that have worked for other customers with similar application integrations. This delivers substantial efficiency and dramatically accelerates ROI.
• Boomi Assure: An industry first, Boomi Assure enables crowd-sourced regression testing. This allows users to submit their integration processes with test data to a regression testing framework, that ensures pre-testing and support in future AtomSphere releases. This feature is not available in Cast Iron or Informatica.

Use Informatica Cloud When:

• Batch and real time integration is required
• You need enterprise connectivity – multiple enterprise adapters are available for popular enterprise software such as Salesforce, SAP, Great Plains, Eloqua, Marketo, Concur, Workday, and NetSuite etc.
• High Availability is required
• You need Advanced Workflow capabilities
• Cloud Integration Templates: Informatica cloud provides pre-defined cloud integration templates for specific industries and processes which can also be customized to significantly reduce development time. You can also create entirely new Cloud Integration Templates from scratch and choose whether to publish them onto the Informatica Marketplace or keep them private in an Informatica Cloud repository.

Use MuleSoftTM:

• When handling real time data processing and large amounts of batch data
• To connect multiple platforms, a seamless solution for integrating multiple processes
• For integrating on-premises applications with cloud-based services like Salesforce or Workday
• To integrate SaaS applications with other SaaS applications or APIs.
• If you don’t want to code and you’re looking for an easy to understand, drag-and-drop user interface for data mapping, transformation and API development
• With Mule ESB which acts as the service provider for the website, handling authentication, data storage, and remote inter-connectivity through a set of internal REST web services..

Limitations:

Some customers have described the following limitations of these tools.

Cast Iron:

• Is not suited for automated Salesforce warehouses because the database creation process does not adapt to changes in the Salesforce schema.
• Has scalability limitations on large data loads, as it has no mechanism to segment large numbers of records into manageable units of work and will time out if more than approximately one million records are requested
• AAA NCNU commented “Cast Iron was not truly multitenant, and the product cost about twice as much as the others”

Boomi:

• Carl Wright, Vice President of sales with storage area network firm Coraid, said “[Coraid] originally tried to use Boomi to create a connector between [NetSuite and Salesforce.com] and, frankly, it was cumbersome and uneconomical and, quite frankly, we couldn’t get it to work properly, It was a one-to-one connector between fields and tables, and you had to basically orchestrate the whole thing yourself.”

• Nick Strong, an associate IT consultant with Appirio Inc. who evaluated Boomi said he felt the low initial starting price for the suite was attractive but later decided that it failed to deliver enough value for the money.

“When you get a basic license from them, they restrict it to where you can only connect to like two or three data sources,” he said. “It won’t let you connect to any more.“

Informatica Cloud:

• One consultant who has used Informatica cloud for cloud data integration says, he had two demos over a two year period from Informatica. In both cases the demo failed and they couldn’t get it to work. According to him, its pseudo cloud. Essentially you download a large application on the machine that will be doing the integration. You then configure your integration on the internet and the configuration is then saved to the application for running. He concluded saying, any data transformation seemed to require scripts to do it.

• Cases where Informatica Cloud is not suitable:
– UI Mashup
– Multiple deployment models.
– Multiple environments

MuleSoftTM:

• Though the tool has been made very user friendly, there have been complaints about the complexity of the documentation. However, I’ve found that there are thousands of documents, online and in-person training and certification courses,and an extremely active support community. So I will have to disagree with the reviewer here
• A few developers also complain about the REST interface which it provides to automate deployment. They say it is not intuitive, and the identifiers which it requires do not map to the admin-accessible front-end. Ultimately this was more of an annoyance than anything else.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series!

Syed Samiuddin
Syed is a Salesforce Lead consultant at Apps associates. He has 9 years of technology consulting experience, 7 of which he spent in Finland working with enterprise clients globally. Syed’s primary areas of expertise are Mobile application development, Salesforce.com/Force.com architecture, Data model design, and business process analysis. His passion is in understanding customer needs and finding ways to fulfill them in the best possible way from both the company and customer perspective. Syed has his MS in Business and Technology Management from Finland. He lives in India with family and loves to play with his kids when he is at home. He is also a sports person and loves to spend time swimming and keeping fit.

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