This article was written by the Director of Enterprise Architecture at a leading, global technology integrator offering cutting-edge technology solutions and services to a broad range of customers across many industry verticals.
Orchestrating internal systems and applications to ensure data is synchronized
All of our data — customer data, vendor data, product catalog data, just to name a few — may route through and be enriched by different applications, but it has to stay in sync. We don’t want transactional interactions failing because our applications aren’t on the same page. Along with synchronizing our data across all applications (i.e., hybrid environment), we also wanted to achieve a greater degree of automation and integration across the enterprise.
During the Summer of 2019, we started the process of assessing the EiPaaS market with an eye towards replacing our existing on-premise integration platform. Essentially, we saw that the market had changed dramatically and the new technologies out there could offer us greater productivity and faster time-to-market, as well as the potential for significant cost savings.
Why we needed software
We were losing too many cycles building point-to-point data pipelines, and knew that forthcoming applications would demand even more of our time. There was also the business to consider — we didn’t want them waiting on us to fulfill their integration requirements lest we become overrun by undesirable, shadow IT development and processes.
The benefits we knew we needed
- Increased productivity, which would accelerate the time-to-market on our most pressing integration projects
- Increased re-use of common services and to eliminate single-purpose, point-to-point interfaces
- The ability to quickly build APIs leveraging a larger pool of staff resources
- A singular view of operational activity, which would allow for more effortless management.
- A true partnership with our chosen technology so that any product requirements, troubleshooting, etc. would be resolved quickly.
Criteria for evaluation
With the experience of multiple integration platforms under our belt, it was fairly easy for our team to outline the features that we needed in a new tool. Plus, we knew we didn’t want to build a solution ourselves — we were looking for something out-of-the-box.
- Security – This was a non-starter for us; without meeting security protocols, we simply couldn’t move forward with a given technology.
- Velocity/Speed to Value
- Modern, sophisticated Cloud Native Platform
- Enterprise Integration – It is crucial that our chosen platform offers capabilities across the entire enterprise integration spectrum, including application integration, APIs, data synchronization, business process and workflow automation and orchestration.
- Ease of use – Our previous tool was too engineering-centric; we wanted a low-code/no-code solution that would allow for increased accessibility and speed of delivery.
- Depth & breadth – Connectivity needed to be both expansive and comprehensive.
- Aligned strategy & vision – We didn’t want to see major changes in the product two years down the line that departed from our objectives and vision.
- ETL/Data integration – Not a must-have only because we were already using another tool specifically dedicated for data integration.
- DevSecOps – Extremely important, but we do this everywhere else so we could’ve potentially added it to our integration tool.
- Documentation & vendor support – We need to be able to collaborate with and be heard from our vendor.
Demo & findings
With these features in mind, we began a thorough evaluation of the industry’s leading tools, while leaning heavily on guidance from Forrester and Gartner reports. In the end, we evaluated about 6-8 EiPaaS tools. Eventually, we narrowed our search down to a top three and conducted a substantive POC. All three of these technologies were impressive, but Workato was the clear winner for our needs.
The other tools felt somewhat developer-centric and dated. While they offered depth and breadth of functionality, the complex user experience was what we were trying to divest from. Workato offered a platform that was newer and fresher.
It was during the POC when Workato really outperformed the other two finalists; anyone can do something in a pre-canned demo, but when you get up close and personal with the technology, its strengths and shortcomings are easier to spot. In working with Workato directly, our team had a much smoother experience. Plus, the check-ins we received from the Workato team were personalized to our organization — they didn’t just come back with generic responses to our questions.
Once we agreed on Workato, we had to present our case to the executive team. There were three main components that we used to convince them:
- Detailed evaluation scores
Each member of our evaluation team performed a detailed ranking of the three tools following predefined criteria and we summarized it to derive an overall score for each capability area.
- Business Case
We conducted a cost-benefit analysis, including costs such as server and software licensing fees for our on-premise iPaaS, staff required for the maintenance of this infrastructure, and more. As a result, we were able to attribute real dollar savings to decommissioning on-premise assets that helped offset the Workato licensing fees (shutting down servers, licensing fees for servers/software, people required for maintenance and patching, etc.). In addition, we did not need to spend a single dollar on professional services with the support model offered by Workato! That is a testament to Workato’s dedication to customer service across the board – from presale to post-sale.
- Customer references
We conducted a few customer references, which was very validating — all of what we were told was very consistent with the results of our evaluation.
In the early stages of our 2019 study, Workato wasn’t even on the list of tools that we wanted to evaluate. There were concerns from the broader team that Workato was perhaps too young and didn’t have a strong enough reputation. But we encouraged the team to take a chance — that just because we didn’t know Workato well enough, it didn’t mean it couldn’t be the right fit. And obviously, we are very glad we took that chance.
After a thorough evaluation, it was clear that Workato was the best technology for our needs. It’s easy to use, allows us to accelerate our time-to-market, is backed by comprehensive support, and has top-notch security.
As we continue rolling out Workato, we’re excited to take on new initiatives, such as automated regression testing, which will ensure the integrity of our applications. In addition to app integration and APIs, we are excited to automate more of our workflows to achieve greater efficiencies, leading to less error-prone processes and reduced costs. We’re already seeing such positive feedback from the team and are confident in our decision to switch to Workato.