Alumio is a Game Changer.
Every time starting a new integration project, we usually think about different ways to implement it, either through custom development or an integration platform. In the era of microservices, visual site builders, zero codings, and AI, developing custom connectors look a little bit odd. Integration platforms are becoming more and more popular, such solutions should become the real driver of business automation and growth in the nearest future.
It has been almost a year since our team started working with the integration platform Alumio. There was an exciting year of onboarding new technology and expertise.
So, it’s time to share our impressions and a high-level overview of the excellent platform.
What do we know about Alumio?
We know that Alumio is an integration platform for digital commerce, an integration platform as a service (iPaaS). Taking into account all of Alumio’s features and functionalities, it can be considered a modern Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) solution.
Alumio is a new player in the integration market. As an individual platform, they started their journey in 2021, but already have a strong position, good strategies, and trusted customers. Alumio’s team originally specialized in building integrations around the eCommerce ecosystem, they are the true subject matter experts in this area.
Why should we consider an Integration Platform?
Working closely with the Alumio integration platform and having more than 15 years of experience with custom connectors, we’ve identified critical use cases when an integration platform has no alternatives.
CASE#1. Custom development.
- When there are no existing connectors
- When an existing connector don’t meet all requirements
- When the client wants some nonstandard integration conditions or some specific custom logic.
Developing custom connectors or supporting multiple connectors does not positively affect the project’s maintainability and stability. Supporting multiple technologies, legacy code and multiple architectural solutions would be very costly for merchants.
Instead of developing and supporting multiple connectors, it is worth using iPaaS solution.
CASE#2. Needs to build an Ecosystem.
- When we have multiple systems which need to be connected: CRM, ERP, WMS, PIM,…
- When we need to build an Omni-channel
Multiple systems usually use different technologies, which require more expertise and experience, keeping different architectural approaches and sometimes even maintaining various programming languages, and supporting by expensive specialists or vendors.
Instead of keeping a ZOO with different connectors and technologies, it is worth using a single integration platform to maintain all these connections in one place.
CASE#3. IT Department and Maintenance
- The limited budget on implementation and maintenance.
- When you don’t have your personal IT department
Integration Platforms usually don’t require to do the actual coding or knowledge in any specific programming languages. Integration Platform allows you to maintain configured connections within the budget and implement some changes personally or with existing IT specialists.
CASE#4. One Click Connection
- When the integration platform offers a “One click” connection
Choosing between “One click” stable integration and several weeks of custom coding, “One click” usually wins.
Alumio Use Cases
Considering all cases listed above, the Alumio platform perfectly fits most of them. Based on our experience, we also would like to share some real-life examples and challenges where Alumio shared more strength and power.
Data Mapping from external resources
There are some cases when it requires fulfilling specific fields with data from external systems or data storage.
For example, the Shopify inventory update requires a specific warehouse code, which can be hard-coded or received from the Shopify GraphQL request.
Using Alumio, we can set up an HTTP data transformer and load extra information as part of the payload preparation process.
There are situations when it is required to keep an intermediate document state and fulfill the payload with information from different incoming sources and sometimes even parallel processes.
For example: Due to some ERP limitations, loading customer and customer addresses are separate processes. These processes require a specific sequence during the execution: creating a customer first, then creating customer addresses as separate entities, and only then assigning addresses to a customer.
Using Alumio storage, multiple data processes can fulfill and update this storage with all required information. Once we collect all the required data, we can publish data using storage in the correct sequence.
There are situations when required information could be found as a reference between multiple elements in the existing payload.
For example, Salsify product properties, property values, and attribute options are stored as separate data sets in the product API payload. Finding the product `Name` value requires building a reference between property and value by the property code. To match the product `color` requires building a more complex relationship between property and value by the property code and then between property values and attribute options by option code.
Alumio storage and data sets operations like `Merge` and `Move` can help convert the property, property value, and options into the simple key–value payload.
We can share more interesting use cases, where Alumio can work perfectly. For example, our team built a dynamic price resolver for B2B business, using Alumio automation and the Proxy feature.
But it is going to be the topic of another article.
The Alumio platform was created by developers for developers.
The good thing, you don’t need to know any programming languages to start working and building configurations. But the basic IT-student knowledge would be great to have to feel comfortable working with Alumio. Alumio is implementing all Integration patterns using visuals without the actual coding.
In general, the overall experience looks like a visual coding or solution configuration, where you must configure:
Alumio offers multiple ways to trigger the execution process:
- Passive mode
- Running as a scheduled task
- Or manual
- Interactive mode
- HTTP Proxy
- or WebHooks
2. Data Flows:
You can find a lot of ways to get and publish information from different sources
- Predefined Clients (Shopify, Adobe Commerce, Akeneo, SAP, Salesforce, …),
- HTTP clients
- API’s (Soap, REST, XML-RPC, GraphQL)
- Files (xml, cXML, csv)
- DB storage (MySQL, MSSQL, Oracle, Postgres),
- Internal document storage.
As a key feature of Service Bus, the Alumio platform can make a very complex messages orchestration:
- Takes several steps and transforms into the single
- Takes a single data process and splits it into several steps
- Run data merging, intersection, or diff operations
- Configure data preloading from external data sources
- Allows running data process in the loop/iterator
4. Data/Message Transformations:
Alumio offers multiple ways to process data/entity transformation and mapping:
- Apply Simple and Complex Condition rules
- Configure mappers, data transformers, and data setters
- Modify data values and structures
- Build a required payload for data push
- Re-use the same transformation in different processes
There are some additional features and functionalities, which we also noticed as very useful:
- Logging and monitoring
- Tasks management / Message queue process
- High Availability
- Message Re-trial mechanism and fail detection
- Pagination and data batch processing
- Re-usability for variable and entity transformers.
What about Alumio’s Competitors?
Alumio is not the only solution on the market. We are not planning to share any platform pros and cons or execute a comparative analysis. But, we would like to add a couple of words about the competition in the market.
We would split all competitors into three different groups by solutions, functionalities, and specialties
These are business process automation, which mainly implements the iSaaS approach. Such solutions are usually straightforward. Any employee can set up all flows easily. It is purely “One click” integration between multiple systems, which generally doesn’t require or doesn’t support very complex logic, complex transformations, or orchestrations. You still can do some custom mapping or custom logic using “Zaps” which are not as flexible as the regular ESB.
These are complicated enterprise-level applications, very flexible and effective solutions, with millions of possibilities for integrations, and the possibility to fulfill ANY customer requirements. It is also a very costly solution, which requires a certified specialist or vendor organization to configure all connections and integrations.
- Oracle Service Bus
- Magic XPI
- Tibco Cloud integration
- IBM App Connect
Integration Platform as a Service is a very flexible and effective solution, which usually have the same feature as enterprise solutions but at an affordable price and don’t require costly specialists to implement integrations.
Alumio is a platform that might help to fulfill all business requirements in process automation.
It is proven that with Alumio, you can integrate everything with everything within a reasonable time and budget, and with guaranteed platform stability and security. All these are very critical for modern business.
The Alumio platform is actively developing and growing. The Team is constantly improving platform functional capabilities, user experience, and interfaces, onboarding more and more pre-defined connectors, and improving reliability and security.
This is just the beginning of a good long story.
To be Continued…