The Boomi Community is the hub of our relationship with our customers. It is where they find answers to their questions, learn how to get the most from the Boomi platform, and engage with peers to understand the best approaches to their integration challenges.
The heart of the Boomi Community is its members. Throughout the year, we recognize the most active and helpful individuals in this group. These leaders set the standard for how Community members can contribute and cultivate a rich conversation that helps everyone become better at integration.
We call these people our Community Champions. They are remarkable in their commitment to making the Community the best possible resource for integration professionals.
Hari Bonala has used the Boomi integration platform since he graduated from university. Currently based in Bangalore, he has been involved with many successful client integration projects over the past seven years. We spoke with Bonala about his experience with Boomi, his professional development, his involvement with the Community, and his insights about integration.
How did you get started with Boomi and integration projects?
Hari Bonala: I joined Dell Services in 2011 as a software development adviser, right after I finished my post-graduate work in India. I was trained in Dell Boomi and Java, and I also did my boot camp training then. My first project using Boomi was actually a ‘small’ project called oneworld. I also worked on the connector API for MongoDB.
I worked on several other small projects and then moved to a project for Novartis. My role was implementing end-to-end processes and delivering them to the customer with documentation.
After that, I relocated to Dell’s operations in Belgium, where I worked at a client location, Electrabel. Electrabel is one of the largest power companies in the Benelux region, which includes Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Electrabel needed to integrate its master data from SAP’s customer relationship management (CRM) with Salesforce. The SAP CRM data was used by the Pardot marketing automation software.
Did your academic studies adequately prepare you for hands-on integration projects?
Hari Bonala: It was a challenge, because post-graduation I came directly to Boomi. I didn’t have any real-world experience with application development. So, coming to integration without that understanding was definitely a steep learning curve. But the oneworld project really helped me understand from an application point of view how a system works. That project involved exposing applications to external services.
What advice would you give to other integration architects who are just starting their careers?
Hari Bonala: Whenever college graduates come to work with Boomi, I first recommend that they learn how applications operate and learn the characteristics of a loosely coupled architecture, so they can understand how integration comes into the picture.
Let’s say a company wants to exchange information or transactions with external parties, such as trading partners. If we dig right into the integration without understanding the business application — what it does, how it works — we don’t understand the big picture.
Typically, if companies want to exchange data with external parties and they’re reluctant to migrate from their legacy applications, they’re looking for ways to preserve the intellectual property they have encoded in their systems. We need to understand the reasons why they’re looking for middleware or a cloud integration solution. You can’t just jump in and start integrating.
Are there similarities or common challenges you have faced while managing integration projects for various clients?
Hari Bonala: One of the main questions we face from every client that’s moving to the cloud is, “What about security; can we trust this product?” And then how scalable is it? Can it handle multi-tenancy? Can it deal with large volumes of data?
Once we develop integrations, clients want to know how they can be managed and accessed. And how they can develop the process or interface for an integration.
How does Boomi address those common customer concerns?
Hari Bonala: From a management perspective, Boomi has a very good user interface — very clean and neat — and we can easily show customers how simple it is to access their integrations. And, of course, Boomi is a true native-cloud, single-instance/multi-tenant platform. Plus, Boomi offers hundreds of application connectors to make integration plug-and-play.
In terms of security, our data centers have security certifications, and we have certifications from various partners such as Salesforce and NetSuite. Also, an Atom deployed on-premise sits behind the enterprise firewall.
What advice do you have for people who need to manage the process of migrating to the cloud or connecting on-premise to cloud applications — or even on-premise to on-premise?
Hari Bonala: First, they have to understand the business purpose of data migration or why they are doing data integration or data migration? What are the different endpoints involved? And they should have some basic knowledge about the endpoints.
Let’s say we are dealing with Salesforce or SAP or a database. They need some basic knowledge about those applications. They should review articles in the knowledge base and do some hands-on practice.
When you first started, the Boomi Community didn’t exist. How has the Community helped you?
Hari Bonala: When I started with Boomi, I faced many challenges in terms of the working methodology and its various features. It was a bit of struggle to find step-by-step procedures for connecting one application to another. Now, the Boomi Community offers many knowledgebase articles. But for me, at first, it was trial and error. Once I became familiar with the product, I found it easy to use.
So, whenever I see questions in the Community, I can relate because I have probably spent some time on them already. I don’t want others to struggle to learn something I’ve already learned. That’s the main reason I spend time in the Community.
But, also, I have gotten very good help from others in resolving issues I’m working on. There is no harm in sharing what we’ve learned with others. It saves time for everyone.
For the Boomi Community, I think we need to create more articles about Boomi Master Data Hub and other platform features, such as API management, to help users understand even more ways to benefit from Boomi.
What would be your advice to new Boomi users about how they can get the most from the Boomi Community?
Hari Bonala: The situation today for Boomi users is very different from the one in which I started with Boomi back in 2011. There is much more help. The platform is more mature. And there are many more companies using the platform.
There are now best practices to follow in developing processes: maintaining a folder structure, reusing connectors and components. These best practices are especially useful to the beginner, before they get overwhelmed by the complexity of developing hundreds of processes.
Before posting a question in the Boomi Community, search to see if hasn’t already been answered in some way.
Of all the integration projects you’ve worked on, do you have a favorite?
Hari Bonala: The project I’m working on now is my favorite. But the very first one I worked on was also a great experience. I’ve learned a lot between the two.
Electrabel, where they wanted a totally cloud-based integration solution — no on-premise Atoms — there were definitely challenges. They wanted to process huge volumes of data. And there are some understandable performance issues you want to keep in mind if you use Atom Clouds for large data volumes. Memory, chip space and process timing all come into play.
Boomi does so much to make integration easier, but integration architects still need to understand the other elements of the IT environment in which those integrations operates. There’s always plenty to consider when moving data across an enterprise or sharing with partners.