By Beate Thomsen, Co-founder & Product Design - December 28, 2023
Businesses often initiate data integration projects to enhance and streamline their business processes. They aim to reduce costs and select the appropriate data integration tool for the task at hand.
Staying within a budget will consistently be a concern. No business wants to invest in costly software that fails to meet their requirements.
Finding the most relevant way to integrate data between your systems might not be the easiest task. Often, businesses have very specific processes and requirements and, as a result, have made many customizations to their systems.
Also, when selecting the right system integration solution, you must ensure that it fits your business needs and requirements.
One of the decisions to be made is choosing between a custom API integration and a standard data integration platform. Find out if a custom-developed solution is the right fit or if you can use an off-the-shelf integration platform.
This article will compare the two different data integration approaches and investigate the pros and cons of each solution.
Many believe that a custom API integration system is the better choice, but data integration platforms offer flexibility and functionality that are hard to beat. Especially when you want to do Salesforce integration or Microsoft Dynamics integration.
An API, or Application Programming Interface, is a set of rules and protocols for building and interacting with software applications. It defines how different software programs and components should interact with each other.
APIs make it possible to integrate two or more systems and ensure data transfers between them.
Custom API integration refers to the process of connecting and enabling communication between a custom-developed application or system and one or more external APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) in a way that is specifically tailored to meet unique business requirements or objectives.
API management refers to the processes and practices that enable organizations to oversee and control the APIs they expose, whether internally to other teams or externally to third-party developers and partners.
Effective API management involves a range of tasks and functionalities, including the creation, publishing, documentation, security, monitoring, and analysis of API usage.
API management is a critical aspect of digital strategy in today's interconnected software landscape. It not only ensures that APIs remain secure, reliable, and easy to use but also enables businesses to maximize the value of their data and services by effectively managing and exposing them to internal and external stakeholders.
Data integration platforms have a reputation for being expensive. This is an undeserved prejudice. A high-level analysis, however, often shows that it is much more affordable for most businesses to use a system integration platform.
It is likely that this reputation comes from the early days of data integration. The first tools that were used to transfer data from one system to the other (for example ETL tool or extract, transform and load) were expensive and only offered limited functionality. They were far from drag-and-drop solutions.
Nowadays, the tools used include development, operational processing and integration functionality. There are many affordable data integration options available for small and large businesses.
With the rise of big data, data warehouses, data lakes, etc., it has become vital for companies worldwide to control and consolidate their data.
Data integration platforms make it far easier for businesses to develop simple and effective data transfers regardless of the data sources. They are fast, user-friendly, and robust, often much more than custom integrations are.
On the other hand, custom integrations are rarely the best solutions in the long term.
In the early days, data integration platforms could be difficult to implement. Today, a Salesforce Microsoft Dynamics ERP integration can be up and running in just three to 10 days using cloud-based data integration tools such as RapidiOnline.
Often, data integration platforms are more affordable than custom builds, but what about their other benefits?
Data integration platforms are no one-size-fits-all solutions. However, they have proven data integration capabilities. Platforms are usually highly flexible.
Being data-driven has become a strategic direction for many businesses. Data transfers, international data transfers, control access, and real-time transfers are on every tech executive's mind.
Top management teams all over the world have to think about data management and transformation, and data processing without compromising on data quality.
Data integration platforms help companies integrate systems together, for example, their salesforce CRM and their Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP. Data integration platforms provide a solution to companies' data integration needs. They also have to maintain high system performance.
A data integration platform such as Rapidi Data Integration Solutions comes with pre-configured endpoints to integrate Salesforce with Microsoft Dynamics 365 (Business Central, Finance, Sales…) as well as the earlier versions of Dynamics such as Dynamics AX, NAV and GP. This means you can:
There's little point in starting from scratch with a custom integration when out-of-the-box templates can give you the functionality you need. Even if you need some custom elements, the templates speed up the whole process significantly.
Data mapping is often difficult, particularly when dealing with multiple validation criteria or integrating different field types. Data integration platforms have the tools needed to deal with this, built in. In a custom development, you would have to handle everything without those tools, using up valuable time.
You will not necessarily need or want to transfer all your data between systems right away. Real-time might not be what you need. You might find that you only need to transfer some data once a day. Using a platform, you'll be able to use the standard templates included to map, schedule, and sequence data transfers as you need them.
The ability to handle errors is vital to successful data integration. That is why data integration platforms usually have an automated error escalation system.Rapidi sends an email to the system administrator with a link to the data transfer that contains the error. It makes it simple for the administrator to deal with the error, understand why it happened, and work to prevent future errors.
When you switch your platform to support mode, it will tell you straight away if there is a malfunction in the integration.
Custom integrations can be great when they're first developed…but what about down the line when they need an update? It's difficult and time-consuming to update custom systems as the code needs to be changed.That's not the case with a platform that offers built-in updates
As your business grows, so does your integration. You can use the transfers you have already configured as part of new integrations as you need them. It is very easy to do this - far easier than with a custom integration.
The transition to a cloud-based integration platform represents a significant advancement in the realm of data management for business users. These platforms offer a comprehensive solution, integrating a wide variety of sources into a single, seamless process.
The key features of robust data integration tools such as Rapidi include pre-built connectors, enabling quick and efficient connections with cloud applications and other systems. Additionally, the real-time data integration capability ensures businesses have access to up-to-date information, crucial for making timely decisions.
The platform's ability to handle complex integrations with ease is another critical advantage. This is made possible through parallel processing, which allows for handling multiple data streams simultaneously, enhancing the efficiency and speed of the integration process.
Furthermore, these platforms come equipped with additional features that cater to the specific needs of different business environments, providing a tailored approach to data integration.
Data integration platforms like Rapidi seem to have higher upfront and subscription costs but will often provide a more robust, scalable, and supported solution as opposed to internal development, despite its apparent initial cost savings, this option can entail significant long-term investments in terms of development, maintenance, and opportunity costs.
One of the most significant benefits of adopting a cloud-based integration platform is the reduction in the total cost of ownership. By consolidating various integration tools into a single platform, businesses can reduce the expenses associated with maintaining multiple systems. This unified platform approach not only simplifies the integration process but also reduces the resources required for training and support.
Data integration platforms are the better approach for the vast majority of businesses. There will always be some businesses that need a custom-built solution, but a data integration platform is customizable enough that it can work as well or better for the majority.
Can non-technical users easily manage integration tasks on a low-code integration platform?
Yes, low-code and no-code platforms are designed with non-technical users in mind. They provide graphical tools and visual interfaces, making it simpler to create and manage integration tasks without in-depth programming knowledge.
How does seamless data integration impact business decisions?
Seamless data integration ensures that all relevant data is readily available and up-to-date, enabling businesses to make more informed and timely decisions, crucial for effective management and strategic planning.
What role does a management platform play in digital transformations?
A management platform is central to digital transformations, offering tools to streamline integration workflows, manage user usage, and ensure flow tasks across different operating systems and cloud services, leading to more efficient business operations.
Can integration services handle structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data?
Yes, advanced integration services, like SAP Data Services, are equipped to handle diverse data types, including structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data, facilitating comprehensive data-driven decisions.
What are the benefits of using renowned data integration tools for common business processes?
Renowned data integration tools offer powerful data transformation capabilities, built-in connectors, and security features, ensuring efficient handling of critical business processes and providing stable business insights.
How does a scalable platform support integration at scale for midsize businesses?
A scalable platform can adapt to growing data volumes and complex transformations, making it ideal for midsize businesses undergoing expansion. It supports simple data pipelines to complex integrations, often with affordable usage fees.
What advantages do cloud-based solutions offer for integrating data from legacy data sources?
Cloud-based integration tools, like Google Cloud, offer flexible and scalable solutions for integrating data from legacy sources. They often feature a user-friendly interface, allowing both technical and non-technical users to build integration workflows and gain valuable insights efficiently.
Beate Thomsen, Co-founder & Product Design