Webinar Recording: How an Inc 500 Company Accelerates Time to Market with iPaaS [with transcript]
00:00 Alright, I think we can start. Welcome everyone to the webinar How an Inc 500 Company Accelerates Time to Market with iPaaS..
If you have any feedback regarding the webinar, it will be greatly appreciated.
Overview of the webinar contents
01:20 Just to give you a short overview of what we cover in this webinar:
- First, I will introduce you to today’s speakers,
- Then we’ll go on with who Star2Star is,
- What their solution, namely the cPaaS, is about,
- Then we talk about the architecture and a few use cases
- Last but not least we’ll give you some more technical information about the elastic.io integration platform,
- At the end of the webinar, we’ll have a Q&A.
In this webinar you will learn how Star2Star Communications is building its innovative enterprise communication platform, what strategy the company pursuits to address new markets, how Star2Star is using a hybrid integration platform to reduce time to market.
We’ll cover all these topics, and in addition Star2Star’s CTO will also share with you how you can apply his company’s experience to deliver your own products and services faster.
Meet the speakers
02:24 The first speaker today is Sergey Galchenko from Star2Star Communications. Sergey has over fifteen years of executive level experience in VoIP technology companies. In the past, Sergey has served as the Director of Technology for Jo-Ann Stores, Inc., CTO at Broadvox, and Manager of Network Design and Planning at Nexbell. Also Sergey has an MBA from Myers University, and a Masters in Computer Science from Don State Technical University.
Our second speaker is the CEO of elastic.io GmbH, Renat Zubairov. He is an experienced speaker at international conferences, user groups, and an active open source community member. During his career Renat was working for big companies like Nokia, Nokia-Siemens Networks, TCS and DHL. Last 5 years he has been working in product start-ups in Application Integration, Data Integration and Business Process Management areas.
Star2Star Communications: Company’s profile
03:52 Star2Star has been in business for almost 10 years now, founded and headquartered in Sarasota, Florida. We are a provider of unified communications as a service. We work with a lot of distributors, and our business model is to deliver our services to a large network of our partners. We’re currently serving more than 400,000 users across more than 40,000 locations.
Introduction to cPaaS, Star2Star’s product
06:11 Gartner identifies cPaaS vendors as service providers who have communications-oriented APIs and SDKs at the heart of cPaaS ecosystem. Some of the service providers offer just pure APIs to integrate with their platforms, some are just hosted service or offer preconfigured applications to some degree of configuration.
But basically, when you want to integrate your business processes with your telecommunication services, it usually involves fairly heavy development effort to perform that integration using APIs and SDKs.
Star2Star’s approach to cPaaS is all about simplicity of use
08:29 Star2Star’s vision for cPaaS is a little different than the traditional definition of cPaaS. We definitely would like to offer an API, because we really have to provide it for fairly complicated integration scenarios. We have also been thinking about making integrations more achievable by traditional companies.
We are planning to add a very simple user interface, almost a drag-and-drop capability, to be able to quickly develop web and mobile applications that will rely on the APIs provided by Star2Star.
Integrations of cPaaS with SaaS and custom applications need to be reusable, which is hardly achievable without an integration middleware
09:52 Second aspect of cPaaS by Star2Star is integration platform as a service, or iPaaS. Like in any business, you need to decide what you are good at, and what you are not good at. At Star2Star we are very good at providing high quality voice and video services on a very large scale. But there is also a demand for integrations with all kinds of external applications.
11:14 The problem for a service provider is that when integration is done, it needs to be done in such a way that, since I invested time and effort into this integration, I should be able to reuse it for other customers.
We’ve been trying for quite some time to build connectors to different applications. What we’ve learned in the process is that it is a fairly involved process, and the results are usually not satisfactory for a large audience.
12:25 At certain moment we started looking around to find out what is available on the market, and we came across elastic.io. The idea of using elastic.io is to provide a very quick interface to our API ecosystem, as well as a set of communication components for elastic.io, and then let partners and customers perform integrations with third-party systems.
13:13 The last aspect of our cPaaS is Analytics. We are in a fairly unique position to be able to capture pretty much any communications related activity within an enterprise. We feel that by analyzing and restructuring this interaction data, we can provide additional valuable insights to our customers.
Star2Star cPaaS Architecture
13:48 On a very high level, the Star2Star cPaaS architecture consists of user interface components which are react components, Star2Star public API and Star2Star iPaaS. The backend of all this infrastructure is driven by a set of subsystems: Video, voice, messaging, conferencing, etc. These are connected through a common message bus. This architecture gives us the ability to very quickly add additional functionalities into our environment.
Different usage scenarios of the Star2Star’s cPaaS should be leveraged by its architecture
14:35 We expect that there are going to be different types of consumers of our cPaaS. For example, if we work with developers or with integration partners who perform custom software development, we expect them to utilize a combination of react components and Star2Star APIs, but they can also utilize some functionality provided by iPaaS.
The Enterprise will most likely start using our Star2Star iPaaS in some form or the other, but nothing can stop other applications from utilizing the APIs or react components.
Strict requirements for iPaaS if to be used as part of cPaaS
15:54 We came up with fairly strict requirements for our iPaaS product offering:
- iPaaS UI must be easy to understand and to utilize by a power user;
- Easy integration with our Star2Star communication capabilities for future integration with enterprise business processes;
- Short cycle from having a concept or an idea to its implementation;
- Enterprise-oriented features like role-based access control, access hierarchy, user identity management;
- Support of different types and styles of integration;
- Support of complex integrations;
- Partitionable, i.e. multitenant.
Use Case for cPaaS / iPaaS #1: Chatbot
20:55 One of the services we are planning on offering is a configurable chatbot. We actually use the elastic.io platform for a quick integration between our monitoring application and a chat room.
The idea here was to initiate a group chat session, when some certain network element goes into an alarm state. We used the elastic.io iPaaS to invite four users into a chat room session as well as allow them to update the status of the element through the chatbot session without leaving the chat room.
In this case our chatbot is trained to recognize certain commands that are typed during the chat session. Upon recognition of a command, the chatbot would submit a webhook back to the iPaaS, which in turn, changes the status of the network element when, for example, we fixed the problem, and the status needs to be changed back to “normal”.
In this particular case, we were able to integrate within a matter of hours two applications that don’t know of existence of each other, and are not really compatible API-wise.
Use Case for cPaaS / iPaaS #2: Master Data Management
25:50 Typically, data between multiple systems that you have needs to be synchronised. Commonly, this issue is solved using some form of ETL tools that are purpose-built for large-scale ETL integrations.
What we decided to do differently, though, is to look at the master data management process at a different angle. We decided to move away from the batch mode, and move towards record-oriented synchronisation process.
With the elastic.io platform we have an opportunity now to detect changes in certain records in our systems of record, and notify integration flows in near real-time fashion about those changes. It gives us an opportunity to have near-real time synchronisation between our systems of record, instead of waiting for batch synchronisation to happen.
In addition to that, it also gives us an opportunity to have much better quality and visibility of integrations.
Use Case for cPaaS / iPaaS #3: CRM Integration
29:38 The last example is quite common in telecommunications world or in cPaaS world – it is the CRM integration. Let’s say you have a Product Inquiry or Contact Me form somewhere on your website. First of all, upon data submission, you would like to have this data to be shown in your CRM.
30:33 The next step would be to check if a new opportunity has certain monetary value that exceeds some hypothetical amount. You can initiate a discussion about this new opportunity using a chat room.
In addition to that, we would enable an employee to make a phone call from the CRM user interface to the new opportunity. Then on the background in the CRM, we would create a phone record related to this specific opportunity.
Basically, with this case you would be simplifying your daily routine, which in turn could lead to a much better performance by individual contributors and improve the quality of data collected in the CRM system.
Using iPaaS makes integrations a much less bureaucratic process
33:14 An interesting side effect of using iPaaS like elastic.io, is that you start thinking about your integrations differently.
In traditional enterprise, if you would like to integrate anything with anything, it usually becomes a very long and bureaucratic process. You have to file a request, then do research, locate resources, etc. A very simply integration like the one I’ve described before, connecting a monitoring system to a chat room, could thus become a 4-months project.
34:15 By using integration platform, you have much faster time to value, and you will be able to move from large-scale application to application integrations to user-level integrations for improving their daily cycle.
Typical iPaaS architecture
35:38 In a typical iPaaS architecture, you’ll have so called components that perform atomic integrations with hosted applications. In addition to that, you will have integration flows, which are basically a set of instructions regarding what to do with incoming data.
36:14 There are different styles of integration between iPaaS and applications. I see more and more platforms nowadays offering outbound webhooks, which are basically notifications to remote applications about certain events that are happening within that system.
You can also have a component that periodically checks remote systems for changes in data of particular interest.
37:11 In addition to that, you can have an action, which is an outbound event coming from iPaaS. Usually, this action is performed with additional data lookup, or it will create, update, or delete an object within the remote system.
Typically, each of these components produce standardized data delivered to a message bus. Then integration flows create business logic and post messages back to the message bus with new targets. In this case this could be an action to initiate a phone call, or to initiate a chat in another system.
How you can use iPaaS to speed up time to market
38:23 First of all, find some project that is small but beneficial and will make life easier for certain users. It is important to find those quick wins, because if you’re successful in your first few iterations, you will see a snowball effect and increased demand for additional integrations.
39:09 You need to find allies in IT or power users in any other department. There are always people like that, who would like to try new things, who understand business. So, when you work directly with people in those departments, you deliver exactly what these people expect.
39:55 Another important aspect is education about the software. If people feel that in 5 minutes they still don’t understand how the system works, the are not going to use it.
And then there is your normal cycle. After you went through all these exercises, then you deploy the platform, monitor, make changes and repeat on a larger scale.
Competitive differentiation of elastic.io’s iPaaS
41:51 First, one of the significant benefits is focus on the cloud from the moment we started elastic.io.
One of the next differentiations of our product is that for now, elastic.io is indeed the only integration platform as a service that is fully microservices-based.
42:49 Being cloud-native software, we by definition ensure elasticity and scalability of our product.
Yet another characteristic of the elastic.io platform is its developer-friendliness: Due to the microservices architecture, we can address a wider audience of developers.
43:33 One of the primary distinction of the elastic.io platform is focus on APIs. As an API-focused integration platform, we obviously integrate APIs, but that’s not only it. Just like Star2Star exposes its communication API, we expose our integration API to the outside world. This makes sense when our platform is utilized for creation of new or better products on top of elastic.io.
45:17 Last but not least, our German heritage is one of our distinctions too, in terms of data security.
Use Case Wirecard: Onboarding solution for omni-commerce merchants
45:40 Wirecard is essentially a bank, but they more point-of-sale (POS), like a B2B bank. Their customers are primarily eCommerce and offline merchants.
When Wirecard decided to bring its mobile POS onto the market, they found out that they would need to integrate their product with various data sources of different merchants.
Wirecard used our platform to seamlessly connect those data sources with their mobile POS deep in the backend, without merchants even noticing the participation of the elastic.io platform in this combination.
Use Case Apora / Aplynk: Self-service integration marketplace
47:35 The next use case is about Apora and Aplynk. Apora operates between software vendors and end users, they are the so called middle tier, – what we call cloud orchestrators, or system integrators. They are based in Holland and specialized in implementation of Zoho and Oracle products.
Under the Aplynk name, their daughter company, they created a large number of pre-defined integrations that they can deploy and scale easily to a larger number of customers. Also thanks to this latter fact, they can actually offer their integration at a much lower price than compared to custom-built integrations.
Questions & Answers
Brian from Cloudera: How does elastic.io compare to Boomi?
48:57 Well, the main competitive differentiations in terms of technology are the ones that I have already mentioned earlier: These are web-scale, focus on microservices, low latency and high performance, as well as the API-first approach.
49:16 So, Brian, I’d like to add that we actually utilized Dell Boomi to integrate SuccessFactors with SAP deployment. What I learned then about them: Their business model is a bit different. You needed to tell them upfront what you wanted, and you had to basically buy those connectors. It was tens of thousands of dollars per month for just a point-to-point integration between two applications, one hosted in the cloud and one on-premise. In case with elastic.io, we have access to pretty much any connector that is available on the platform, with no extra charges apart from those for the platform itself.
50:29 Another differentiator from my personal perspective is ease of use as a developer. It’s fairly hard as a service provider to get engaged with Dell. They are a large company, and they would like you to act as a large company as well. For me, it just wouldn’t be scalable to work with Boomi. Again, I found elastic.io very responsive to our needs. They publish source codes for integration components, the system works fairly well, and I like this ability to scale up and down based on the demands.
I hope I answered your question.