Users cite problems with Dell Boomi SaaS integration suite

Dell this week released an update to its newly acquired Boomi SaaS integration suite, but at least two companies say you won't catch them using the product anymore.

Dell this week released a fresh update to its recently acquired Boomi AtomSphere SaaS integration suite, but at least two companies will not be using the product anytime soon.

Carl Wright, vice president of sales with storage network firm Coraid, and Nick Strong, an associate IT consultant with InfoWelders, a data integration firm recently acquired by Appirio Inc., independently evaluated older versions of Dell Boomi and decided that it was too complex and time-consuming for their integration needs. They ultimately chose competing products and currently have no plans to look back.

"[Coraid] originally tried to use Boomi to create a connector between [NetSuite and] and, frankly, it was cumbersome and uneconomical and, quite frankly, we couldn't get it to work properly," said Wright, who has a background in information technology. "It was a one-to-one connector between fields and tables, and you had to basically orchestrate the whole thing yourself."

Dell acquired Boomi last November as part of an ongoing push to enhance its cloud computing portfolio. The Dell Boomi offering allows users to, among other things, transfer data between cloud and on-premises applications.

The spring update to Boomi AtomSphere includes new enhancements such as change data capture capabilities, which reduce the size of data sets being processed; large data processing capabilities, which help users automate the data integration process; and a new application program interface (API) that allows third-party monitoring tools to keep an eye on AtomSphere integration activity. Pricing for the suite starts at $500 per month, according to Dell.

Appirio's Strong, who evaluated Boomi about three months ago, 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," Strong said. "It won't let you connect to any more."

Dell Boomi versus the alternatives

Redwood City, Calif.-based Coraid evaluated Boomi about three years ago, after the company began using for its customer relationship management (CRM) needs. Founded in 2002, Coraid initially ran its CRM operations on NetSuite, but eventually decided that was a better fit for sales and marketing operations.

"We ended up with really two enterprise CRMs, each with the notion of 'customer' in it, and NetSuite was the system of record for most of that data," Wright said. "But [we needed] a lot of the entitlement things, such as support and maintenance contracts and things like that, inside of Salesforce in order to facilitate [some] customer interactions."

Coraid needed to get Salesforce and NetSuite to play nicely together and started looking at technologies that could make it happen. Salesforce recommended Boomi, but Coraid found it too complex. The company eventually decided that data virtualization technology from Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Queplix Corp. was the right choice for the job.

"Today, all of our workflows are facilitated real time between NetSuite and Salesforce using the Queplix data virtualization tool," he said. "It creates a global metadata catalog."

Queplix says its products help users securely integrate, deploy and manage cloud and on-premises applications with no programming or SQL knowledge required.

"In the process of crawling our database repositories, Queplix identified a ton of inconsistencies," Wright said. "We had thousands and thousands of records with a little over 250 that were not correct, and it allowed us to fix them easily."

After trying out Dell Boomi, Strong decided to stick with data integration software from Oakland, Calif.-based application and data integration vendor Jitterbit Inc. He uses the software primarily to help external clients create connections between and on-premises applications.

Strong said his firm pays about $10,000 per year for Jitterbit, and he finds it to be far less restrictive than Boomi.

"With Jitterbit, as long as you have the license you can build whatever you can think of, no limits," he said.

Jitterbit unveiled a new version of its software earlier this month. The company says Jitterbit 4.0 offers new features designed to increase user productivity and collaboration between business and IT. It also has new wizards designed to help simplify the integration process.

"We have around just over 250 commercial customers," said Ilan Sehayek, chief technology officer of Jitterbit. "But we also have [open source] builds of our product out there. We track about 20,000 users of our product, and they give us a lot of feedback."

On-demand data integration demands deep understanding

When integrating data from two disparate applications, it's important to understand those applications well. This is true regardless of which type of data integration technology or product is being used, according to Strong.

Knowledge of both systems is important because problems can pop up during the integration process that the technology might miss, he explained. For example, the technology may not realize that an upload is not working because the user forgot to "set a flag" in a given place.

"You need to know both systems very well," Strong said. "If you don't know how to use the API, and you don't understand how the source system works, and you don't understand how the target system works, then you're setting yourself up for trouble."

Mark Brunelli is the News Editor for Follow him on Twitter @Brunola88.

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