Boomi Goes ‘On Demand’ with Integration Software
June 12, 2007 Alex Woodie
EDI and business-to-business (B2B) integration software developer Boomi last week announced its entry into the software as a service (SaaS) industry with Boomi On-Demand, a new hosted service that can move data among other hosted apps as well as ERP systems residing behind firewalls. With a per-connection fee that starts at less than $100, Boomi claims its new service will open up a new world of application integration for small and mid size businesses and how applications get integrated.
The new Boomi On Demand service will give customers the capability to build the same types of custom integrations among applications as Boomi’s prepackaged software provides. The main difference will be that customers will design, or map, their integrations over a Web browser using Boomi’s Macromedia Flash-based visual tools, and the actual integration workload will be performed by Boomi (or the data center operator, Equinix, that Boomi has hired to run the Linux-based servers powering Boomi On Demand).
The plan for Boomi On Demand calls for customers to use preconfigured integration templates that eliminate much of the work of building a point-to-point integration. Boomi says it plans to offer templates for four of the most popular hosted applications–including Salesforce.com‘s hosted CRM software, NetSuite‘s hosted accounting and financial applications, Navis‘ hosted WMS application, called SmartTurn, and Intacct‘s hosted ERP software.
Customers who use these types of hosted SaaS applications won’t have to install anything to use Boomi On Demand. They simply go to the Web site, define the integrations, alert their trading partners, and away they go. The first integration defined with Boomi On Demand might take a couple of days to set up, but after that, the configuration should take a matter of hours, says Rick Nucci, chief technology officer for Boomi.
For connecting to on-premise, behind-the-firewall applications, the Boomi On Demand model is a little bit different. For starters, while the company doesn’t require customers to install an entire integration application, behind-the-firewall connections do require the installation of a piece of server-side code, which Boomi has dubbed the Atom. Once the configuration has been devised on the Boomi On Demand Web site, the Atom is deployed to the appropriate server, enabling direct and secure connections through the customer’s firewall to its trading partners’ servers. Boomi will leverage its expertise working with popular ERP systems, such as Microsoft‘s Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains), to do as much preconfiguring of the Atom as is possible.
While the Atom won’t install on i5/OS (or Solaris) when the first release of Boomi On Demand becomes available, the new service will support i5/OS and DB2/400. Boomi has a decent number of i5/OS customers using its EDI products, and it understands that it needn’t overlook this segment of the marketplace. Just the same, the first release of the service will support Atoms on Windows, Linux, and other versions of Unix.
Beta tests for Boomi On Demand will start later this year, and general availability is expected in late fall. Pricing for the service is split into application connections and partner connections. If the customer is using Boomi On Demand with another SaaS application, the service costs $195 per application per month, and $95 per trading partner per month. If the customer is using the Atom component to connect its on-premise applications with other applications, the service costs $225 per application per month and $125 per trading partner per month.
Boomi On Demand is based largely on the same code that it has used in its prepackaged integration software over the last few years, with the only difference being that the new software was modified to be a multitenant application that can keep multiple customers’ data separate. Users will be able to monitor their integrations in real-time from a Web-based dashboard interface, and it will also provide detailed logging and the capability for users to subscribe to alerts. The capability to monitor Boomi On Demand activity from an external tool won’t be included with the first beta release, but could be added to the offering at a later time.
Bob Moul, chief executive officer of Boomi, says Boomi On Demand answers the ease of use and pricing questions that have troubled the on-demand integration space. “We think it’s absolutely perfect for SaaS providers who need to provide integration for their customers,” Moul says. “And we’re doing it at a price point that’s commensurate with the subscription pricing in the SaaS world.”
Moul emphasized the need for affordable integration solutions in the SaaS world. “We’ve been watching it [SaaS] quite closely, and what got us interested was a lot more SMBs are interested in SaaS,” he says. “The challenge is really going to be in the integration space. Yes you can provide a hosted application. But you need to then take the application and invest it with the rest of your application portfolio, whether they’re SaaS or on-premise. It’s very consistent with our vision of making integration capabilities affordable.”
Boomi isn’t the first company to offer a hosted integration solution. Informatica has been selling a stripped-down version of its PowerCenter tool to perform ETL jobs on hosted data, and Pervasive also offers an on-demand version of its tools. “The big distinction is we can do the integration directly from the Web without having to install packaged software,” Moul says.
At least one analyst is calling Boomi On Demand a game changer. Laurie McCabe, vice president of SMB insights and business solutions at AMI-Partners, an IT analyst group based in New York City that specializes in SMB topics, predicts big things for Boomi On Demand in the SMB space.
“Instead of having to hire developers and spend tens of thousands of dollars to build custom integrations, Boomi On Demand gives SMBs an easy, cost-effective alternative way to integrate SaaS solutions with each other and to existing customer-premise applications,” McCabe says. “Boomi On Demand removes some of the key integration barriers that SMBs have faced, paving the way for them to take full advantage of the growing number of SaaS solutions that can help their businesses.”