SAN FRANCISCO—Integration platform as a service (iPaaS) may not be as high on the visibility scale as software as a service (SaaS) or platform as a service (PaaS), and it's in near-conflict with another IaaS (infrastructure as a service). But its best days appear to be ahead, because with all the new data flowing into IT systems from the internet of things, integration workflows are becoming more important by the day.
San Francisco-based Built.io, started by former Sun Microsystems and TIBCO engineers, has developed a digital business platform that makes extensive use of application programming interfaces (APIs) to help organizations connect the dots of their IT systems and accelerate digital transformation.
On Oct. 4 at the Salesforce DreamForce 2016 conference, the company unveiled Built.io Flow Express, which brings drag-and-drop data integration functionality to line-of-business users within an enterprise. This is a key step in enabling business and IT departments to collaborate on workflow automation models that benefit all parties.
No Training-Needed Toolset for Non-Technical Users
Flow Express features an intuitive, no training-needed toolset optimized for non-technical users. For example, the company demonstrated here at DreamForce 2016 that a marketing executive was able to build his own chatbot for personal use (to automatically send certain emails to his Slack account to save time).
Built.io Flow Express complements Built.io's existing integration product (which is being rebranded as Built.io Flow Enterprise) to provide the first end-to-end integration suite that makes it possible for users with varying technical skills to collaborate on workflow automation, CEO Neha Sampat told eWEEK.
By using tools that offer appropriate capabilities for each audience, workflows can be exchanged and optimized across both business and IT functions, Sampat said.
With Built.io Flow Express, Built.io makes more palatable the functionality of cloud integration, offering no-code and low-code options alongside its sophisticated developer tooling, she said.
New Functionality in the Product
Key components and benefits in Built.io Flow Express include:
--No-Code Interface: Users can build automated workflows that connect their favorite apps through an easy-to-use web interface without knowing how to code or having to hire a developer.
--Flow Export: Built.io Flow Express provides the ability to export workflows to Built.io Flow Enterprise. Any workflow created using the business-friendly tool can be further enhanced in the enterprise developer environment.
--Multi-Step Flows: Users can create high-value workflows that connect a multitude of services together and that send data across multiple applications all at once.
--Template Library: Users can tap into an extensive library of templates that provide the most popular and useful integrations as ready-to-use workflows.
--Triggers: Triggers are events that initiate a workflow. For example, when a customer record is updated in a company's CRM system, Flows can trigger actions across related systems, such as marketing automation, inventory management or a mobile customer service app. Flows can be triggered in real time or executed according to a predetermined schedule.
--Output Formatter: Data can be transformed easily into different formats, including HTML, text, ordered and unordered list, tables, CSV and more. This allows applications with different data requirements to connect and interact.
--Loops: Loops enable sophisticated workflows that iterate one or several actions over a large set of data. Users can process all their tasks, emails or support tickets, for example, so VIPs receive a timely response.
iPaaS Was Ahead of Its Time in 2007
Co-founders Sampat and CTO Nishant Patel had the idea for integration as a service nine years ago when they were formulating the company.
"We started the company to build integration in the cloud, but it was way ahead of its time. Back then, people called it 'integration on the web,'" Sampat told eWEEK. "Our first few customers were trying to figure out how to build workloads in the cloud, so we helped them build some of the first SaaS apps. Then, mobile became the big thing in 2008 and 2009, when enterprises were trying to adopt mobile, so we helped organizations try to figure out their mobile strategies.
"With that, we ended up with our first product, which was 'mobile backend as a service.' Built.io Backend has been in the market since 2013," she said.
That product became the framework for connecting microservices together, Sampat said. It attaches to containers, and users can build their applications attached to the Built.io framework.
"Everything is microservices container-driven and open standards, all with the idea you shouldn't have to build anything from scratch," Sampat said.
Built.io Flow Express became generally available Oct. 4. The company is demonstrating Built.io Flow Express, Built.io Flow Enterprise and all of its turnkey integrations for the Salesforce ecosystem at DreamForce, which continues through Oct. 7. Go here for more information.