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Integration Platforms - What are they? 

Today's business landscape features many types of data sources. Internal databases contain a treasure trove of data vital to your business. Cloud providers also hold databases and other types of data. Additionally, myriad companies offer valuable services to augment, clean and verify data. While this brings great power, it also introduces new challenges. Drinking from a fire hose is next to impossible...what about MANY fire hoses at once?
Integration Platforms work to solve this problem. They are often called iPaaS, or "Integration Platforms as a Service". iPaaS providers create tools to combine, transform, and track these data streams. With iPaaS, businesses don't have to spend big money on data integrations. Instead, they can spend their resources reaping the benefits of the integrated data. If you are a business struggling with data overload, an iPaaS provider might be able to help.
Snaplogic is a competitor in this space - how do they compare to other offerings? Snaplogic touts itself as "A simple, fast, and intelligent platform that empowers enterprise IT organizations and lines of business to connect." Their product is the Elastic Integration Platform. It combines various data sources, including internal or cloud databases. It can also connect to a variety of 3rd party providers. Snaplogic claims hundreds of the Global 2000 as their customers. This list includes Adobe, Gamestop, and Verizon. This piece will explore features offered by both Snaplogic and XPlenty. We hope this information will better position you in choosing an iPaaS provider.

Snaplogic

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Company History

Snaplogic began in 2006, and they have raised over $136 million pursuing their goal. They are venture-backed by several big names in the industry. This list of backers includes reputable names such as Andreessen Horowitz and Microsoft. Based in San Mateo, CA, SnapLogic currently employs around 175 people.

Elastic Integration Platform 

Snaplogic's main offering is it's Elastic Integration Platform. This software connects several disparate sources of data, including:
Within the platform, "Snaps" are responsible for processing specific data sources. This can be as simple as ingesting text from a data file. It also scales to more complicated operations, such as a REST API layer around an external service. With these possibilities, Snaplogic can connect to almost anything you might need.
One of the touted benefits of Snaplogic is its designer. This visual designer is HTML5-based, allowing it to run within any browser. It allows for "non-techies" to arrange and configure Snap pipelines. A drag-and-drop interface makes combining different Snaps very straightforward. The visual designer for Snaplogic brings data integrations to the entire team.
Snaplogic provides a Monitoring Dashboard to keep an eye on your integrations. It is available in a browser, which allows for both local and remote monitoring. The dashboard displays information about the current state of all Snaplexes. This enables you to know when things are working, and when they are not. It also displays execution history, a record of data integration pipelines over time. The Monitoring Dashboard allows customers to effectively manage their data integration pipeline. So is SnapLogic a good choice for your business? Here is a list of some things to consider when choosing an integration platform:
  • Ease of Use - it has to be easy to use.
  • Available Integrations - what can it connect to? the more the better.
  • Customer Service - who's going to help if things go wrong?
  • Reliability - you depend on this data - it has to work.

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SnapLogic vs. Xplenty

Here's a breakdown of how Snaplogic compares to Xplenty. Included are actual customer testimonials. Real experiences, told by the people who use them:

Ease of Use

Ease of use is one of the most important qualities this type of software offers. Their whole purpose is to make data integrations simple. If the service isn't removing work from your plate, it's failing at its job. Xplenty shines in this area. One reviewer stated what they liked best was "User friendly interface. Flexibility and simplification of otherwise complicated tasks that would have to be written in code. The schedule of jobs is a must have and Xplenty made it very easy to use.". Another emphasizes "The UI is very user friendly. It takes no time for a new user to get the functioning on Xplenty.". And finally, "Clean dashboard, optimum documentation for ease of user".
Ease of use is one of Xplenty's strengths, and it comes often in their reviews. Snaplogic claims an easy-to-use interface, but the reviews offer a mixed bag. One reviewer offered praise, claiming "Snaplogic offers an intuitive interface for developers to build scalable, hybrid integration systems quickly and efficiently". However, this user stated that "errors while executing flows and pipelines which don't have proper explanation". Also, sometimes a polished, guided GUI can get in the way of complex tasks. According to this reviewer, "complex integrations are made more difficult by the way Snaps interact".

Available Integrations

An integration platform's power grows with the number of options available to it. Simple things like Database and Cloud connectivity are a must. More complicated integrations with 3rd party vendors add even more power. Xplenty offers plenty here - one reviewer states "The package capabilities are very robust allowing us to move data between very different systems.". Another is using Xplenty to combine different 3rd party systems, saying "We use it as an add-on through Heroku. It gives you many connections options including direct to Salesforce or to Postgres."
Xplenty's integration possibilities are lengthy - here a customer confirms "We love the fact that Xplenty integrates with the major data warehouses like Amazon Redshift for example." Snaplogic touts a large library of connectivity. However, some customers have complaints about setting up integrations. "That complex integrations are made more difficult by the way Snaps interact" and "The number of workarounds often required to design a generic, reusable integration" cloud the water. Additionally, "Complex Integrations require some work arounds".
 
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Customer Service

Integration platforms contain tons of moving parts, and things go wrong. Whatever system you buy, you'll need customer service to answer your questions. Reviewers emphasize this quality about Xplenty - their Customer Service is top notch. One reviewer explicitly vouches that "Xplenty has excellent customer service. The team goes above and beyond to work with us to develop our data flows and answer any questions we have about the product in their real-time chat system. If bugs or feature requests are discussed, the support team works with us to find adequate workarounds and keeps us in-the-loop while the fix/feature is implemented."
This type of is worth it's weight in gold. This quality appears again and again in XPlenty reviews. Here: "The live support is the best thing." And here: "The user and tech support are amazing." Snaplogic's reviews on Customer Service are less stellar. One reviewer complains "Whenever contacting to SnapLogic support team, they are not giving the proper solutions and guidance." And another observes "Lacking maturity in support system - not all support engineers are adept." If you are stuck, good customer support is crucial. Xplenty delivers.

Reliability

Entrusting your integration over to a 3rd party platform is a big move. You depend on their reliability to get the job done. Xplenty earns this trust, as confirmed by several reviews. One states that "System is highly reliable, yet they have elaborate error logs available in case of job failure. Also, job failures are gracefully addressed through job configuration where the latest successful run fills the data gap created from previous failed job."
Once you setup an integration, you don't want to have to keep returning to fix it. This customer vouches that "I configured this a while ago and haven't had to touch it, which is what I was hoping for." Snaplogic gets some negative reviews in this area as well. One user lamented that "Regression-Test-Deployment Life Cycle needs more work. Stability after Quarterly Deployment Windows is not consistent". Another disparaged "We have also had several issues with pipeline hangs and job failures due to network timeouts during job startup and execution."

In Conclusion

A good iPaaS can supercharge your data streams. It can better position your business to capitalize on opportunities. Use caution - the incorrect choice in providers is costly. When choosing, investigate your options. Speak to their sales and support teams, and try to gain a sense of what they bring to the table. Rely on the experiences of those that have gone before you. They can tell you whether the path they chose is one they would take again.
Both providers described here have strong offerings. Big funders back Snaplogic, and they have large customers. But if you're looking for reliable customer support, and ease of use, Xplenty is a strong choice. With the correct provider, you will take your data integrations to the next level!