No app is an island. Data, events, and processes cross app boundaries all the time. More and more, developers aren’t just hooking apps up to traditional databases or line of business systems; they are jamming log data into Amazon S3, building Slack bots that trigger app deployments, or paging the on-call person when an urgent ZenDesk ticket pops up. We’re integrating more things than ever, which means that traditional integration solutions may not be the right fit any longer.
Enter companies like Azuqua. The Azuqua Platform gives companies a new approach for quickly building mashups, connecting data sources, talking to SaaS apps, and designing novel event-driven software. Best of all, it doesn’t require a costly team of integration experts to use it.
Pivotal and Azuqua recently announced a partnership that you can take advantage of right now! The Azuqua tile makes it possible to connect your Pivotal Cloud Foundry apps to Azuqua workflows with ease. How easy? Watch this new video.
Pivotal reached out to Azuqua to pick their brain about all things integration. Our interview with Nikhil Hasija, Azuqua co-founder and CEO, is below.
Pivotal: Is application integration all that different today from what companies were doing fifteen years ago?
Hasija: Yes, absolutely. Fifteen years ago, enterprise software was built in giant monolithic architectures. Whenever new software was bought, long implementation projects would incorporate them into that single stack. As the pace of technological innovation changed, monolithic architectures proved to be unable to keep up with the changing demands of the end consumer. Customers started demanding better experiences via new media faster than IT teams could keep up.
Then came cloud. With cloud, every line of business could suddenly have whatever best-in-class point solution they needed for every purpose. Need a better CRM? Salesforce has a whole army of engineers dedicated to building CRM for sales. How can your internal IT team compete with that?
But what we’re learning now is that these standalone applications can’t do anything without being connected to each other and your legacy systems. Your CRM can have the best user interface in the world, but if existing customers, support data, and marketing leads don’t flow into it, what good is your CRM?
Integration is truly the problem of the day. It’s easy to swipe your credit card and buy the newest best social media manager, but connecting that to your systems of record is surprisingly difficult—not to mention tedious. Similarly, when developing a new mobile app, you should be able to focus on the UI/UX and use cases, but the app can’t work if the UI is not connected to the data and microservices that power it.
Five to ten years ago when this problem was just starting to present itself, IT would build the integration platform or hire an army of consultants using code-heavy integration tools, but that only resulted in a revolving door of expensive consultants and mountains of brittle unmaintainable code.
Fast forward to today, with the advent of companies like Azuqua and the move towards APIs, integration has been made more agile and faster than ever.
Pivotal: How would you describe the Azuqua Platform to someone who hasn’t heard of it before?
Hasija: Azuqua is an integration platform that makes creating the foundation of your new apps fast and agile so that you can focus on the innovative parts of the app rather than wasting time coding the plumbing required to make your idea work. We have a SaaS offering (that is also available on-premises and in a hybrid environment) where you can log into our dashboard, authenticate your microservices, APIs, and commercial applications (like Salesforce, Oracle Marketing Cloud, Jira, etc.) and create data connections and workflow automations between them.
Let’s look at a few examples:
- A Latin American telecommunications company uses Azuqua to create a better customer experience by connecting their support ticketing application to their project management solution that tracks bug resolution and to their CRM. Now, whenever a support representative opens up a new bug in the support system, they can instantly see that customer’s history, see if there are existing unresolved issues, and issue new tickets that will be automatically disseminated to the right teams depending on the nature of the new problem. That rep will also get notifications when that new problem is resolved as well as if that issue is NOT resolved within 24 hours.
- A Fortune 500 in the industrial engineering space is using Azuqua as the microservice management platform for the whole company. New applications use Azuqua to connect to databases (legacy or otherwise) and intelligently orchestrate workflows. This includes applications for machine maintenance, fuel optimization calculations, and other industrial processes.
- A Fortune 500 engineering company is using Azuqua to orchestrate the new customer experience for one of their digital products. The registration flow comprises of many microservices that checks different databases, contract archives, etc. Azuqua enables the team to repurpose those microservices incredibly quickly into the right onboarding process for this specific product.
Pivotal: What are some of the key capabilities of the Azuqua Platform that Pivotal customers should know about?
Hasija: There are essentially 2 main benefits of Azuqua to Pivotal users:
- Your app needs to be connected to core systems if it’s really going to have value. It’s wonderful to build an innovative new healthcare monitoring app, but it’s not going to be used and become a central part of the company if it can’t connect to the lifeblood of the company—core customer data.
- Just like top chefs who need to spend time creating and innovating rather than chopping hundreds of pounds of vegetables each night, software engineers need to spend their finite time building new things rather than coding the uninnovative parts that are required to make the new things work. Azuqua takes care the basics so engineers can focus on the innovation.
Pivotal: What are some of the more popular Azuqua connectors and how are they helping companies automate activities in new ways?
Hasija: We break the connectors down into two categories: internal and commercial. On the commercial side, the most popular apps are the ones that have the most market share in their respective areas, like Salesforce, Zendesk, Marketo, Jira, Slack, Google Drive, Office 365, etc. But a lot of customers also use Azuqua to connect to internal microservices and APIs. Sometimes the microservice is built to plug directly into Azuqua and shows up in the dashboard as if it were any out-of-the-box connector like Salesforce (GE Predix does this. Since Azuqua is the only workflow provider on the Predix network, many Predix services have native connectors built for them). Sometimes microservices are surfaced through a RESTful endpoint or an API platform like Apigee.
Pivotal: Pivotal and Azuqua are now partners and customers now have an integrated experience between our products. Tell us about that integration and what customers can do.
Hasija: Pivotal has created a cloud native development platform that is driving digital transformation in companies around the world. The next step after creating these apps is to make sure that the overall business derives value out of those innovative apps. The only way to do that is to connect those apps to the core systems of record that contain your critical customer data and run your critical operational processes. This is how digital transformation will actually take hold and spread. This partnership is a step in that direction.
PCF users can now SSO directly from their apps manager to Azuqua, making it easier to manage and connect Azuqua to your existing apps. Take a look at our documentation to install the tile. You can also watch this video that give you an overview of the partnership along with a use case example.
If you’re looking to try this out, we would love your feedback. In fact, we’re currently giving out $20 Amazon gift cards to any developer that signs up through this page and spends some time with us giving us your honest feedback.
Pivotal: We see so many of our customers operating in a multi-cloud world with assets on-premises, and across cloud platforms. What advice do you have for companies that are trying to figure out how to securely connect modern apps with legacy ones?
Hasija: My number one piece of advice is DO NOT TRY TO RIP AND REPLACE. Big projects sound good in theory but iterative progress is almost always more successful. Everyone wishes they could get rid of their legacy infrastructure, but the political klout and technical resources required to make rip-and-replace happen is more often than not a pipedream. Big projects tend to get bogged down in unforeseen issues and cultural inertia. The best thing to do is to start with whatever new project you’re working on now and use an integration platform like Azuqua to connect the old and the new. And each time something new is built, you can kill a piece of the old. Eventually, you’ll be able to clean out all the legacy systems.
Secondly, it’s very important to have buy-in across teams. Engineering is usually not building software as thought exercise. Software has a business goal. It’s critical to have business and engineering alignment whenever digital transformation initiatives are undertaken. I count the number of times projects have failed because goals and execution were misaligned [and executive sponsorship towards the outcome was lacking].
Pivotal: What integration trends should the smart enterprise be keeping an eye out for?
Hasija: Here at Azuqua, we meet a lot of developers at events and explaining integration to someone who hasn’t heard of it is an interesting challenge. I think integration as THE software problem of the day isn’t yet clear to many developers. IT’s top problems are delivering software faster or building new applications or making business teams happy. But all of these problems are actually integration problems. At the end of the day, nothing can sit in a silo anymore. Everything you make has to be connected to a broader ecosystem.
Pivotal: What’s the best way for folks to try out the Azuqua Platform and learn more about it?
Hasija: There are 3 things you can do:
- Explore the tile via the Pivotal Network here.
- Watch our introductory video for an overview, installation instructions, and an example use case.
- Dive right in. Sign up through this page and get started for free. And since this partnership is new and we’re looking to rapidly improve our offering, we’re looking for devs that are willing to try out Azuqua and hop on a quick call with us to share your thoughts. Your feedback will be invaluable in helping us iterate on the partnership offering as well as impact our overall roadmap. In return, we’re giving away $20 Amazon gift cards to devs who participate. You can also email our Growth Manager, Skyler Hartle, at firstname.lastname@example.org directly to learn more.
About the Author
Richard Seroter is a Senior Director of Product for Pivotal, an 11-time Microsoft MVP for cloud, an instructor for developer-centric training company Pluralsight, the lead InfoQ.com editor for cloud computing, and author of multiple books on application integration strategies. As a Senior Director of Product at Pivotal, Richard heads up product marketing and helps customers see how to transform the way they build software. Richard maintains a regularly updated blog (seroter.wordpress.com) on topics of architecture and solution design and can be found on Twitter as @rseroter.Follow on Twitter More Content by Richard Seroter