This week, Dell burnished the shine on its cloud application integration business with the unveiling of its Boomi AtomSphere Summer 12 release. In addition to rolling out enhancements to its data warehouse and security capabilities, the latest release brings Boomi better in line with service-oriented architecture (SOA) and adds a new crowdsourced regression-testing capability unmatched by similar integration suites.
The crowdsourcing element, named Boomi Assure, was the highlight of the new additions in analysts' eyes, given the originality of such a feature. Assure offers users the ability to submit their integration processes with test data to a regression-testing framework.
"I think it could provide some really unique value," said Charles King, principle analyst at Pund-IT. "I think the idea that being able to submit a use-case scenario and then have that tested against and validated against the next-generation Atom platform could provide not just practical value but also, in a sense, reinforce either what companies are doing right or potentially what they're doing wrong and need to adjust. In the long run, anything you can do to help your clients ensure that they're not spinning their wheels or wasting their time is a great value."
According to Rick Nucci, general manager of Boomi, the Assure functionality is the first of its class in the application integration market. But the release isn't all about novelties. At the foundation of Summer 12's improvements are the meat-and-potatoes enhancements to Boomi's extract, transform load (ETL) capabilities for better data warehouse integration. According to Nucci, Dell made three significant improvements. The first was support for data joining.
"Joins are a very classic kind of ETL requirement which allows you to join together multiple data sources. Those could be database queries, flat files, XML data or any combination thereof," Nucci said. "That data is joined together so that you can create one output data source destination, which would typically then be loaded into a data warehouse. That's now a new step in the Boomi UI, so that you can configure that step in your orchestration."
Additionally, Boomi can now bulk-copy to MS SQL servers using the BCP utility to load large amounts of data into a SQL Server power data warehouse more efficiently than with Open Database Connectivity or Java Database Connectivity. And the third major ETL improvement, Nucci said, was the addition of a Hadoop connector.
On top of the ETL enhancements, Dell also added greater support for its SOA framework through the creation of a new SOA Worker feature.
"It allows you to reserve resources in our cloud for handling those real-time Web services events," Nucci said. "And the whole reason behind this is all around scaling out those Web services that you've built and run in our cloud so you can add as many SOA workers as you need, and that's going to load balance the traffic across those workers but still in a very secure and multitenant architecture in Boomi's atom cloud."
The final major piece to the Boomi upgrade is a spate of new features on the governance and security management front, notably a set that adds flexibility in managing and federating security policies through SAML-based single sign-on.
According to King, this latest release by Dell will likely quash the last bastion of murmuring first heard when the company acquired Boomi in 2010. At that time Dell wasn't known for software development, but the last few Boomi releases show it coming into its own on that front. According to him, it's a maturation in a market quietly craving real integration solutions.
"The concept of application integration is not a hugely sexy topic from the standpoint of IT," King said. "But it's one that touches almost every enterprise and has become an increasingly important issue as companies have deployed either internal clouds or have begun to adopt some external cloud."