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Dell's Boomi Lets Apps Talk Via Cloud Hub

Latest release of AtomSphere helps you build a connected business process, using lightweight rule engine to govern how applications update each other's data.

Boomi first made a name for itself integrating online applications with an on-premises application that needed CRM data. Now Dell's Boomi unit is adding a business rules engine to enable users to set workflows to govern how two sets of applications update each other's data.

It's also expanded its visually oriented flowchart tool to build in more predictive assistance on making connections.

Connecting applications is a challenge that's only going to get bigger. Boomi's AtomSphere used to integrate three sets of applications per customer, said co-founder Rick Nucci, now CTO of Boomi, in an interview. Last year, the 11-year-old company surveyed its customer base and found the number had moved up to 11, and those integrations performed 600 transactions or other data exchanges per day.

Nucci said Tuesday that Boomi was announcing its fall 2011 edition of AtomSphere, and it will come with a lightweight rules engine that will allow users to set if/then conditions to determine when application data gets updated. In effect, customers will be able to set up simple business processes without buying their own rules engine or business process management software, he said. A new business rule that reflects a broadly needed change can be applied to multiple integrations through the engine.

[Learn more about the hidden traps of cloud integration. See Six Ways To Fail In The Cloud.]

Boomi is one of a handful of online integration services--IBM's Cast Iron is another--that have bypassed the painful, point-to-point connection building formerly done inside the enterprise and substituted a hub in the cloud instead. It's an online service, with AtomSphere hosting a library of connectors able to tie an organization's geographically separate applications together.

Boomi's approach is based on a heavily visual process that maps connections between points by drawing a process flow chart. Boomi is keeping the connection process free of complex software installation or scriptwriting, so that job titles like systems analyst and business process engineer can make use of it. For on-premises and custom applications, a runtime engine is installed and left to run without further administration or management. Cloud to cloud connections can be handled through Boomi's online service, Nucci said.

AtomSphere in the past was active in the process of helping customers build connections, making suggestions on how to connect a field or piece of data in one application to a similar field in another. Because it acts as a central, online hub, Boomi has a library of 50,000 data connection maps on which it can draw suggestions for an individual customer. From a review of data collected on customer use last year, "customers take its suggestions 85% of the time," said Nucci.

It has expanded its suggestion-making capabilities to include functions in the fall 2011 release. If a function in one application uses a single-word customer name and a function in another application uses both first and last name (two words), AtomSphere suggests how to resolve the difference, he said. It will probably urge the user to combine the two words into one before proceeding

Dell's first move after acquiring Boomi in November 2010 was to announce that Java Messaging Service could be used to connect Java applications in the enterprise to software as a service outside it.

AtomSphere is offered as an online service at $550 a month for the Base Edition, $1,100 for the Pro Edition, and $5,500 for the Enterprise edition.

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