Summer Release 2017: Focus on operational efficiency and artificial intelligence

By Dinesh Chandrasekhar

SnapLogic Enterprise Integration Cloud’s Summer Release for 2017 (v4.10) is generally available for customers today. We are excited to share a lot of new features and enhancements that revolve around the themes of operational efficiency for digital transformation, continuing innovation in the use of Iris Artificial Intelligence, and added support for Cloud Data Warehouse and Big Data. While we stay focused on offering one of the finest and easiest user experiences in the iPaaS space, we wanted to extend that experience over to the operational side as well.

A few key highlights from this release that focus on improving operational efficiencies and the use of Artificial Intelligence:

  • AI-Powered Pipeline Optimization: SnapLogic’s Iris technology now evaluates pipeline configuration and operation to recommend specific performance improvements based on machine learning, delivered to users via dashboard alerts and notifications.
  • Local Snaplex Dashboard: Ultra Pipelines have been used by our customers in mission-critical use cases that warrant uninterrupted data flow across multiple data sources. Now, we have introduced a local dashboard that provides full visibility into Ultra Pipelines. This offers customers increased confidence that their high-priority projects are running automatically without any interruption.
  • API Threshold Notifications: On a similar vein around dashboards, we bring in some monitoring capabilities that focus on operations and project development. Real-time alerts and notifications provide customers with an early warning system to improve monitoring of complex integrations projects. Alerts can be set up to notify stakeholders when API limits are approached and exceeded when users are added or removed from the platform, and when projects are modified.
  • Project-level Migration: We’ve been listening to your requests! With the fast pace at which integration projects are being executed and delivered across the enterprise, it is pertinent that project lifecycles are not a bottleneck. We’ve introduced a new feature that automates the migration of projects across departments and organizations, eliminating hand-coding and hard-coding, resulting in seamless project migrations.
  • Public API for Groundplex Installation: A new API is now available to automate the installation and configuration of on-premises SnapLogic nodes, eliminating the time and effort to manually download and install additional nodes. 

A few key highlights from this release that focus on enhancing our already comprehensive integration capabilities into cloud data warehousing and big data:

  • Microsoft Azure SQL Snap Pack: A brand new Snap Pack that allows customers to quickly and easily migrate on-premises databases to Microsoft Azure SQL Database for fast cloud-based reporting and analytics.
  • Teradata Select Snap: Expands the Teradata Snap Pack, allowing users to retrieve data from a Teradata database to display on a table for easy reporting tasks.
  • Parquet Writer Snap: Allows users to store data in specific partitions in Hadoop HDFS, improving the ability to create reports and derive meaningful insights from big data.
  • Parquet Reader/Writer Snap: Allows users to write Parquet files to Amazon S3 and AWS Identity & Access Management in addition to HDFS, expanding SnapLogic’s support for cloud-based data warehousing via Redshift.

Watch the Summer 2017 Release webinar to learn all the features and enhancements across our Snaps, IoT, CRM, and more.

Dinesh Chandrasekhar is Director of Product Marketing at SnapLogic. Follow him on Twitter @AppInt4All.

The commoditization of integration

By Dinesh Chandrasekhar

Eight years ago, dozens of integration vendors were offering scores of solutions, all with what seemed to be the same capabilities. Pick any ESB or ETL tool and each seemed to perform the same functions as their competitors. RFPs were no longer a viable way to weed out the inferior vendors as each solution checked all the boxes across the board. Plus, all vendors were ready to lower their prices at the drop of a hat to win your business. It was at this time that the integration market had truly reached a level of commoditization. Consumers could easily pick and choose any solution as there were no true differentiators amongst them.

But, several factors have changed the landscape since then:

  • NoESB – The NoESB architecture had started gaining interest – pushing the idea of the irrelevancy of ESB for many integration scenarios. Yet, an API Gateway was not the right alternative.
  • Cloudification – The cloudification of pretty much all your favorite on-premises enterprise applications began around the same time. Enterprises that were thinking of a digital transformation couldn’t get too far without a definitive cloud strategy in place.
  • Convergence of ESB and ETL – The lines between application integration and data integration were blurring. CIOs and IT managers didn’t want to deal with two different sets of integration tools. With the onset of mobile and IoT, data volumes were exploding daily. As a result, even data warehouses moved to the cloud. To serve such big data needs, the traditional/legacy ESB/ETL tools were incompetent and unfit.
  • Agile Integrations – Finally, the DevOps and Agile movements impacted enterprise integration initiatives as well. They had given rise to new user personas in the enterprise – Citizen Integrators or Citizen Developers. These are the LOB Managers or non-IT personnel that needed quick integrations within their applications to render their data in different views. The reliance on IT to deliver solutions to business was becoming a major hindrance.

All these factors have influenced the iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) market. Now, thousands of companies are already leveraging iPaaS solutions to integrate their cloud and on-premises solutions. iPaaS solutions break away from legacy approaches to integration, are cloud-native, intuitive, fast, self-starting, support hybrid architectures, and offer connectors to a wide range of on-premises and on the cloud applications.

Now comes the big question – “Will iPaaS solutions be commoditized, too?” At the moment, the answer is a definite NO and there are multiple reasons why. Beyond scale, latency, tenancy, SLAs, number of connectors etc., one of the key areas that will differentiate iPaaS solutions is the developer experience. The user interface of the solution will determine the adoption rate and the value it brings to the enterprise. So, for a citizen integrator to actually use the system, the interface should be intuitive enough to guide them in building their integration flows quickly, effectively, and most importantly, without the assistance of IT. This alone will make or break the system adoption.

iPaaS vendors are trying to enhance this developer experience with features like drag-and-drop connectors, pipeline snippets, a templates library, a starter kit, mapping enhancements, etc. However, very few vendors are offering AI-driven tooling that enables intelligent ways to predict next steps – based on learnings from hundreds of other users – for your integration flow. AI-assist is truly a great benefit for citizen integrators, who may be non-technical. Even technically savvy developers welcome a significant boost in their productivity. With innovations like this happening, the iPaaS space is quite far away from being commoditized. However, enterprises still need to be wary of cloud-washing iPaaS vendors that offer “1000+” connectors, a thick-client IDE, or an ESB wrapped in a cloud blanket. And, that is a post for a different day!

Dinesh Chandrasekhar is Director of Product Marketing at SnapLogic. Follow him on Twitter @AppInt4All.