Interview by Dutch IT channel 'We want to make integration easy and accessible'

By: Martijn Kregting

As a result of the exponentially growing application and data landscape of increasingly more companies, integration issues are becoming more complex. New integration technologies offer more and more possibilities, but require the right knowledge from scarce specialists. To help companies with this, eMagiz offers an Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) that greatly reduces the complexity of integration. “In this way you can make your application and data landscape scalable and manageable from a central control point without any specialist knowledge,” outlines account manager Tom ten Vregelaar.

What is currently the eMagiz platform, was developed by a low-code application developer and consulting provider in response to an increasing number of integration issues at client projects. The solutions available at the time were usually very technical, not user-friendly and hardly usable for people with a non-IT background, according to Ten Vregelaar (30), who has been working at eMagiz for over six years and recently celebrated the company’s tenth anniversary.

Such solutions were difficult to use, especially for people with a business background who were able to collaborate well with their contacts at customers. The development team that was hired built a model-driven integration platform so that business consultants could still realize integrations of applications in one IT environment. eMagiz was founded to market the integration platform independently. Cape Groep was the first, but no longer the only partner.

Scarcity of IT specialists

Ten Vregelaar: “What we now offer as an iPaaS platform forms an abstraction layer over integration technologies – from traditional ones like messaging, to APIs and the more complex publish & subscribe patterns – so that you can pick up integrations quite easily without the increasingly scarce experts. Similarly, you can easily add new integration technologies like Kafka under the hood without the need for the even more scarce Kafka specialists. These are usually hired directly by large companies who can offer corresponding salaries.

By using the eMagiz platform as a managed service, an end customer can resolve integration issues quickly and easily, either on their own or through an eMagiz channel partner, without incurring excessive costs, Ten Vregelaar says. “If you want to build an application landscape from scratch, you really need specialist knowledge. This is certainly not a core business of most companies and IT providers and is therefore increasingly difficult to find. With a model- and not technology-driven integration platform like eMagiz, they can still deploy new integration technology.”

Exponential growth of data

The amount of data generated by applications and devices is growing even faster than the number of applications. This growth is partly the result of a transition in many companies to new architecture principles, in which, for example, micro services are central. This results in a correspondingly sharp increase in the number of data sources, all of which must be captured in an architecture.

“Data generation and the number of data sources are increasing exponentially – think of IoT devices,” Ten Vregelaar continues. “Companies would like to integrate all those devices and applications into a well-organized IT environment, so that the data can actually be used to generate new insights. In this way, they can respond to new opportunities or challenges, carry out preventive maintenance or adjust a transport fleet in real time. Previously you were mainly looking back based on historical data, now in theory you can analyze real-time data streams and intervene before something goes wrong, so to speak.”

Practive is becoming increasingly complex

With the emphasis on ‘in theory’, Ten Vregelaar says, because practice is becoming increasingly complex. Many companies whose application and data landscape is growing along with their organization often start by tying everything together to be able to process and analyze data. For example, via high-code applications or with point-to-point integrations. This leads to an increasing number of partial solutions, which makes it difficult to see the forest for the trees and even hinders your organization’s further growth.

That’s when many of these companies find that integration specialists are scarce, making an iPaaS-based solution relevant. “It’s not as if with an iPaaS platform like ours, you’re getting a silver bullet. As if you deploy a platform today and tomorrow all your integration problems are solved, so to speak. What eMagiz does do is make that integration and the application and data landscape scalable and manageable from a central control point and with a central overview of what you’ve developed. The scarce integration specialists are available to customers through our partners, though.”

Accessible for IT specialists

The eMagiz platform does not store data at its core, Ten Vregelaar emphasizes. “But with the help of applications such as Kafka you can temporarily store data sources in so-called topics. Applications and people who want to use this data can take out a kind of ‘subscription’ and retrieve and read the data at a moment of their choosing. It may sound complicated, but with the help of the abstraction layer over integration technologies and the built-in management functions, this becomes accessible even for non-specialists. In this way, you have easy access to advanced technology to handle large amounts of data.

“This allows companies – with or without the help of their IT partners – to choose between using traditional integration technologies such as messaging, but also APIs and/or publish & subscribe patterns such as Kafka. In addition, they can also use these technologies interchangeably in hybrid applications. eMagiz does not want to claim to have “best-of-breed” solutions for these technologies, but deliberately opts for a “best-of-suite” approach where the user decides when to use which technology, or combination of technologies.

Further development

eMagiz is also continuing to develop its iPaaS platform, for example by adding state technology. This allows data to be stored temporarily, creating a kind of ‘memory’ for comparing data, Ten Vregelaar explains.

“Suppose you get sensor data on the temperature of a production process every minute. You don’t want to store all that data, but you do want to get a signal when there is a deviation in that temperature. By temporarily holding sensor or other data, you can extract such new insights from your data streams. You could think of this as a kind of edge computing for data streams. We are now developing this to open new doors in the area of real-time decision making for our customers.”

Importance of the partner channel

It depends on a customer’s IT maturity and strategy whether they will deploy the platform themselves or do so through eMagiz itspartner channel, Ten Vregelaar emphasizes. “We partly deliver directly to organizations and then train their people in the implementation and use of eMagiz. In principle, they are then self-sufficient at some point, although they can always come to us if they encounter very complex issues.

In addition, eMagiz works with a growing partner channel that provides consultancy services and managed services based on the platform. An example is zelospark, which provides time-series based solutions in the energy market.

Ten Vregelaar says, “Our partners know their industry much better and know which integration needs they can address without focusing on the technology or us as a vendor. A company is not looking for technology, but a solution to its IT problems or challenges. Integration technology doesn’t capture the imagination tremendously, but every company needs it. For us, the partner channel is therefore very important in order to better reach this huge potential of customers and deliver optimal added value to them.”