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Boomi CEO on integration platform-as-a-service in the cloud era

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Data integration platform Boomi will officially spin out of Dell Technologies later this year after being sold to Francisco Partners and TPG Capital for approximately $4 billion.

VentureBeat sat down with Boomi CEO Chris McNabb to get insight into how an integration platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) environment delivered as a cloud service will soon be expanding.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

VentureBeat: Why is data integration more relevant today?

Chris McNabb: Integration has gone from sort of the last thing you think about in projects to something that is strategic to the business. There are more SaaS (software-as-a-service) applications and distributed workloads built by vendors that were never intended to work together. You have to enrich data before you move it. It’s becoming more real time. All of those diverse systems not only need to move data, you’re also going to move data via APIs (application programming interfaces) and ETL (extract, transform, and load) tools into data warehouses in big batches. All those things need to be addressed. In fact, we’ve built a practice to help our customers create an Integration Center of Excellence for their business methods.

VentureBeat: How are iPaaS platforms evolving in terms of how they are employed and by whom?

McNabb: These platforms are known for their ease of use, their speed, and productivity as they continue to evolve. The predominant people that use our platform today are technical in nature, whether they be IT people in the business unit, developers, or anywhere in between.

VentureBeat: So it’s more about making it easier for the people who have the skills to do this stuff to work faster by not having to write procedural code?

McNabb: When you start working with code, you have to automate all the DevOps pieces. With Boomi, all of the DevOps pieces behind the scenes are basically taken care of by the platform.

VentureBeat: We hear a lot about AI these days. How intelligent can integration get?

McNabb: It will get wicked smart. It’s as simple as that. We’re a single instance, cloud-native platform. All of that knowledge of how to connect systems, applications, and databases is in our platform. It knows the 1,000 people that came before you wanted to do the same thing you’re trying to do. We mined all that metadata. We extract and create a process for you, so you can just test it and maybe add some custom fields. We can get you 92% of the way to your working process in one click. That mining of the metadata is a form of AI, and that’s the tip of the iceberg. I haven’t gotten to performance characteristics or configuration characteristics yet. All kinds of things are going to get smarter and smarter, faster, faster.

VentureBeat: Are those integrations all going to be executed via the cloud, or do some still need to be executed locally?

McNabb: There are two aspects to that answer. One is where your integration code should reside. Where you make changes, monitor it, administer, and correct defects is all done in the cloud. Our platform allows you to execute integration wherever you want. For proximity or security reasons, you may still want to have a datacenter system instead of a data warehouse in the cloud. You need to transfer data from one to the other. You still want to do that in the datacenter behind the firewall. You don’t necessarily want all that data going out to some cloud and coming back. Our platform allows you to run those integrations in that datacenter.

VentureBeat: That sounds like a control plane for integrations. Is that right?

McNabb: Correct. We’re also a development play. We’re a low code platform to build the integrations. We provide the control and the development environment.

VentureBeat: What prevents organizations from shifting integration to the cloud today?

McNabb: To be honest, I’m not sure what’s holding them up. This would be my suggestion to them. You now have hundreds of developers working five days a week just to be experts at integration. I doubt they can afford that level of impact investment to achieve the level of compliance, security, and scale required and then update it. Cloud applications go through updates three to four times a year. Are your people keeping up with the most current things? Who’s going to go back and maintain all that? The cost of maintaining that is prohibitive, and it’s not core to your business. There’s no way they’re as fast either. CIOs that think building a workflow for a mobile app is a four-month project need to need to wake up and understand what’s really available to change their business in a profound way.

VentureBeat: A lot of people also think of Boomi as a business process management (BPM) platform. Where does that fit?

McNabb: For years, we have taken the broadest possible definition of the word integration. We want to move data, but it’s also about people integration and user engagement. We have a process automation capability to go along with world-class connectivity on the data side. It’s automation plus integration that gives you transformation. On our platform, you can create a mobile app very quickly. You can create a workflow, and we have all the connectivity to all of those systems, whether they live on-premises or in the cloud or on another continent. It doesn’t matter. We can connect all that and make that whole thing work from one development screen.

VentureBeat: Where does data governance need to be addressed?

McNabb: Ultimately, a CIO has a choice. If they can get a single platform to do not only data integration, but also govern changes and get approvals when necessary in a way that understands identities and roles, they can get their arms around a distributed landscape. A best-in-class integration platform will allow CIOs to solve that problem.

VentureBeat: What impact will the rise in edge computing have on integration?

McNabb: An integration platform as a service is going to be integral in terms of how you deal with the edge. I think integration platforms that serve as true providers are going to come together to provide a different level of service and support to their constituents.

VentureBeat: How are microservices and data streaming technologies changing the way we need to think about integration?

McNabb: Streaming and those kinds of technologies will be a part of the integration platform. It’s going to have to because that’s how the world actually works and behaves if you look at it in its simplest form as an engineer. Everything’s becoming more and more real time.

VentureBeat: What’s the next big challenge?

McNabb: Analytics is just becoming an extension of integration. You need to understand the relevance of data to connect it to an event. When it crosses thresholds, that’s where the really interesting sort of analytics come alive. A lot of the data is just noise. You don’t really need to score a bunch of it and then collect everything. You’ll choke on it. You have to be able to understand it, filter it, aggregate it, and measure it to compare thresholds. That’s something you can do naturally via an integration platform.

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