Connect business applications, Seamlessly

The most up-to-date information is shared across the business.
Everyone uses and updates the same core data set.
New integrations can be setup within just a few days.

System sync
THE LATEST INFORMATION

Ensure that the most up-to-date information is available for users across all IT systems.

ACCELERATE SOFTWARE DELIVERY

Significantly reduce development time and cost for integrations within software projects.

INCREASED FLEXIBILITY

Highly configurable and easily extensible integration options.

INCREASED RESILIENCE

Rely on proactive monitoring to ensure that you're never surprised by data is that out-of-sync.

REAL TIME SCALABILITY

Quickly scale the service to meet changing requirements.

SECURITY BY DESIGN

Seamless is operated within Microsoft's Azure cloud. All data and configuration is separately encrypted.

How does Seamless work with so many applications?

Seamless uses plugins to connect to other applications in order to retrieve and update data

FOUNDATION CONNECTORS
We start most integrations with our RESTful or SOAP connectors. These are the most popular API protocols found in cloud applications.

This means we're ready to connect to thousands of well-known, and not so well-known, applications.
PLATFORM CONNECTORS

We have connectors built for many popular industry database platforms (SQL Sever, Oracle, etc.).

This means we can connect to thousands of bespoke applications which may not have APIs already developed.

COMMON APPLICATIONS
We're always growing our library of specific connectors for popular cloud applications.

This means that sometimes it only takes a few days to get applications sync'ing data.

What does the Seamless service include?

Seamless is provided as a managed service operated by Recursyv

CLOUD HOSTED
You don't need any additional IT infrastructure to integrate your applications.
PROACTIVE MONITORING
Ongoing monitoring of service health and connectivity.
SECURITY BY DESIGN
Data in transit and configuration is separately encrypted.
CONNECTORS
Use of any connector plugin within Recursyv's plugin library.
CUSTOM CONNECTIONS
Ability to easily develop custom connector plugins, or extend the features of existing plugins.
TESTING & TOOLING
Access to development tooling and a test service.

Dynamics / FreshserviceWe're delighted to announce that we are launching a Freshservice connector and, using the very same connector, a templated integration between Freshservice and Dynamics 365. Sync Requesters/Contacts, Incidents, Service Requests, Problems, Changes, Releases and Assets between Freshservice and Dynamics 365.

In the spirit of syncing data in and out of Freshservice, it would be remiss of us to focus only on Dynamics. As part of preparing the templated connection, we needed to develop a Freshservice connector and so we're announcing this connector as well - what a brilliant day!

This announcement comes about a week after launching our Freshsales connector and joins our Freshdesk connector as the premier integration toolset for Freshworks apps.

Launching connectors so regularly is indicates both the ease with which the Seamless platform allows us to develop new connectors as well as our own commitment to growing our library of application connectors.

If you need to connect your Freshservice app to any other application, we're ready to setup data sync quickly and easily.

Freshsales App Gallery

 

The Freshservice / Dynamics 365 CRM connector is immediately available in the Freshservice marketplace. You can access it from within Freshservice by clicking on the Admin (gear icon on the left hand menu) and choosing Apps under the Integrations option.

For other Freshservice integration requirements, the Freshservice connector plugin is able to connect Freshservice to Seamless and, from there, to integrate it to any other application.

The Freshservice / Dynamics 365 CRM Integration Template

  • Syncing Freshservice Requesters / Users - Dynamics Contacts allows you to keep customer master data up-to-date in both systems. Updates made in one system will synchronise to the other. This allows different teams (e.g. a helpdesk team and a sales team) who are using different systems work off an up-to-date data set.
  • Freshservice Tickets, Problems, Changes and Releases -> Dynamics Cases provides a reference view of Freshervice items within Dynamics allowing Dynamics users to better understand their customers.
  • Freshservice Assets, Asset Types & Departments -> Dynamics custom entities provides a reference view of the underlying Freshservice data to ensure that Dynamics users have complete context.
  • Freshservice Agents -> Freshservice Agents, a custom entity inside Dynamics that allows you to associate Freshservice users to Dynamics records without requiring Dynamics licenses for every Freshservice user.

 

Syncing Deals from Freshsales into Dynamics 365
Recursyv Seamless

Seamless is an application integration service that makes it easy to connect different software applications. New integrations can be quickly setup using Recursyv's growing library of application connectors. Foundation connectors (SOAP, RESTful) are available to integrate with bespoke applications, either in the cloud or on-premise.

Seamless is provided as a managed service operated by Recursyv. The subscription fee covers access to all Recursyv connectors, initial configuration, pro-active monitoring, the ability to make reasonable configuration changes and support.

Dynamics / Freshservice
Keep Service Management and Customer info synced with Freshservice and Dynamics 365

Freshservice - Dynamics 365 CRM integration

Requesters/Contacts, Tickets, Problems, Change Requests & Underlying Data

Freshsales / Dynamics overview
  • Sync Freshservice Requesters with Dynamics Contacts (bi-directionally) to ensure that all users work from the most up-to-date customer data
  • Sync Freshservice Tickets, Problems, Changes and Releases into Dynamics Cases
  • Sync Freshservice Assets and Departments into Dynamics
  • Sync Freshservice Agents into Dynamics and, optionally, associate them with Dynamics Users (ensuring that not every Freshservice user requires a Dynamics license
Integration notes

The synchronisation options allow you to quickly setup syncing of data between Freshservice and Dynamics.

  • Syncing Freshservice Requesters / Users - Dynamics Contacts allows you to keep customer master data up-to-date in both systems. Updates made in one system will synchronise to the other. This allows different teams (e.g. a helpdesk team and a sales team) who are using different systems work off an up-to-date data set.
  • Freshservice Tickets, Problems, Changes and Releases -> Dynamics Cases provides a reference view of Freshervice items within Dynamics allowing Dynamics users to better understand their customers.
  • Freshservice Assets, Asset Types & Departments -> Dynamics custom entities provides a reference view of the underlying Freshservice data to ensure that Dynamics users have complete context.
  • Freshservice Agents -> Freshservice Agents, a custom entity inside Dynamics that allows you to associate Freshservice users to Dynamics records without requiring Dynamics licenses for every Freshservice user.

 

Deployment

Contact us to begin provisioning integration between Freshservice and Dynamics.

 

Service guide

Information on field mappings and any pre-requisites required to implement integration.

Seamless is an integration service that connects business applications.
New integrations can be setup within just a few days.

Reach out to us to discuss how we can use Seamless to integrate data within your business.

 Learn more about Seamless. We could talk about it all day.
  Sign-up to our mailing list to receive our quarterly newsletter.

Dynamics / Freshservice
Freshworks Marketplace: Freshservice / Dynamics CRM integration

Dynamics Freshales ConnectorWe're delighted to announce that we are launching a Freshsales connector and, using the very same connector, a templated integration between Freshsales and Dynamics 365. Sync Accounts, Contacts, Leads and Deals / Opportunities between Freshsales and Dynamics 365.

In the spirit of syncing data in and out of Freshsales, it would be remiss of us to focus only on Dynamics. As part of preparing the templated connection, we needed to develop a Freshsales connector and so we're announcing this connector as well - what an awesome day!
 

If you need to connect your Freshsales app to any other application, we're ready to setup data sync quickly and easily.

 
The Freshsales / Dynamics 365 CRM connector is immediately available in the Freshsales marketplace. You can access it from within Freshsales by clicking on the Admin (gear icon on the left hand menu) and choosing Apps under the Integrations option.

For other Freshsales integration requirements, the Freshsales connector plugin is able to connect Freshsales to Seamless and, from there, to integrate it to any other application.

The Freshsales / Dynamics 365 CRM Integration Template

  • Accounts & Contacts allows you to keep customer master data up-to-date in both systems. Updates made in one system will synchronise to the other. This allows different teams (e.g. a helpdesk team and a sales team) who are using different systems work off an up-to-date data set.
  • Freshsales Lead -> Dynamics Lead provides a reference view of Freshsales Leads within Dynamics. Leads will be updated into Dynamics Leads allowing users in Dynamics to view lead progress.
  • Freshsales Deal -> Dynamics Opportunity syncs provides a reference view of Freshsales Deals within Dynamics. Deals will be updated into Dynamics Opportunities allowing Dynamics users to view Opportunity progress.
  • Freshsales Owner -> Freshsales Owner, a custom entity inside Dynamics that allows you to associate Freshsales users to Dynamics records without requiring Dynamics licenses for every Freshsales user.

 

Syncing Deals from Freshsales into Dynamics 365
Recursyv Seamless

Seamless is an application integration service that makes it easy to connect different software applications. New integrations can be quickly setup using Recursyv's growing library of application connectors. Foundation connectors (SOAP, RESTful) are available to integrate with bespoke applications, either in the cloud or on-premise.

Seamless is provided as a managed service operated by Recursyv. The subscription fee covers access to all Recursyv connectors, initial configuration, pro-active monitoring, the ability to make reasonable configuration changes and support.

Dynamics Freshales Connector
Refresh your Dynamics data with Freshsales

Ice CreamIntegration, like ice cream, comes in many flavours. And like ice cream, some are better suited to your needs than others. On a hot summer’s day, a refreshing sorbet might be your preference. If you’re throwing the ice cream on top of a warm apple pie however, Madagascan vanilla (obviously!). Sometimes you’ll see a kiosk advertising ice cream, but really they’re flogging some vile frozen chemical cream-like product which is neither good for man nor beast.

So … (need to stop thinking about ice cream) when is integration not integration?

There are many ways you can expose data from one system when working in another. Different requirements will drive different approaches. In this post, we share some of the common ways to share data between systems.
(more…)

Ice Cream
When is integration not integration?

FreshdekWe're delighted to announce that Freshworks have listed our Dynamics 365 < -> Freshdesk connector in the Freshworks marketplace. This is in addition to our Seamless listing.

The Dynamics 365 < -> Freshdesk connector will allow you to quickly setup integrations between the two systems using a standardised set of field mappings. If requirements demand, the mappings can be easily altered or extended. For integrations to other systems, the Seamless Freshdesk connector is able to connect Freshdesk to Seamless and, from there, allows you to integrate to any other application.

Both connectors are immediately available on the Freshdesk marketplace.

Freshdesk / Dynamics 365 CRM Integration

Freshdesk / Dynamics

  • Sync Accounts & Contacts (bi-directionally) to ensure that customer data is up-to-date across your business
  • Sync Freshdesk Tickets into Dynamics 365 to provide support/ticket information to other users
  • Sync Freshdesk Agents into Dynamics (ensuring that not every Freshdesk user requires a Dynamics license)
Recursyv Seamless

Seamless is an application integration service that makes it easy to connect different software applications. New integrations can be quickly setup using Recursyv's growing library of application connectors. Foundation connectors (SOAP, RESTful) are available to integrate with bespoke applications, either in the cloud or on-premise.

Seamless is provided as a managed service operated by Recursyv. The subscription fee covers access to all Recursyv connectors, initial configuration, pro-active monitoring, the ability to make reasonable configuration changes and support.

Dynamics / Freshdesk integration
Being dynamic with Freshdesk

We're delighted to announce that we have expanded the feature set of our Seamless Autotask connector. So much so, that we've split it into two connectors.

Both Seamless connectors are immediately available on the Autotask marketplace.

For more complex requirements, the Seamless Autotask connector plugin is able to connect Autotask to Seamless and, from there, to integrate it to any other application.

Autotask / Dynamics 365 CRM Integration

seamless dynamics 365 crm integration

  • Keep customer data in sync with bi-directional synchronization of Client / Account / Contact data
  • Keep Dynamics users informed with one-way updating of Autotask tickets into Dynamics tickets
  • Keep Autotask users informed with one-way updating of Dynamics Opportunities to Autotask Opportunities
  • Autotask Resources (users) are mapped to Dynamics users to ensure that record ownership is kept in sync
  • Scope can be easily extended to include additional data types, UDFs, list values and mappings
  • Connector product support

Autotask / Dynamics 365 Projects Integration

seamless dynamics 365 projects integration

  • Keep customer data in sync with bi-directional synchronization of Client / Account / Contact data
  • Keep Dynamics users informed with one-way updating of Autotask projects into Dynamics
  • Autotask Resources (users) are mapped to Dynamics users to ensure that record ownership is kept in sync
  • Scope can be easily extended to include additional data types, UDFs, list values and mappings
  • Connector product support
Recursyv Seamless

Seamless is an application integration service that makes it easy to connect different software applications. New integrations can be quickly setup using Recursyv's growing library of application connectors. Foundation connectors (SOAP, RESTful) are available to integrate with bespoke applications, either in the cloud or on-premise.

Seamless is provided as a managed service operated by Recursyv. The subscription fee covers access to all Recursyv connectors, initial configuration, pro-active monitoring, the ability to make reasonable configuration changes and support.

Growing our Autotask connector set
Growing our Autotask connector set

HeartOn their own a heart, lungs and a liver would be pretty useless. But when you join them up using the vascular system (arteries, veins, capillaries), all of sudden the sum becomes greater than the whole. Each of our organs has a “specialist role” and when they perform to role, the work they do is invaluable. The heart pumps blood, the lungs oxygenate blood, the liver helps you recover from a big night out.

In this admittedly sketchy analogy, IT systems are no different. Each IT system in your business has a specialist role which it (hopefully) does very well. Most businesses will have a financial system (invoices, accounting, etc.). Some will have point-of-sales systems (POS), some have a sales or contact management system (CRM), most will have an email system. Many, possibly even most, will have a core line-of-business system which helps manage or control the primary business function of the company.

All too often there is no vascular system connecting all of these disparate applications together. Each system operates using its own data set “knowing” things which it is not “sharing” with other systems. Has Customer A paid us in full? Does Customer B have any open queries? These are pieces of information which users across the business could, and should, use to make more informed decisions.

Why are businesses not building their vascular systems?
Why do so many businesses not focus on linking up their IT applications?

 

Is there a fear that integration is too expensive?

Possibly. Traditionally the software that connects up applications – known as middleware – was expensive. It required specialist infrastructure and a lot of work just to get the application talking to the middleware.

Two market forces have arisen to challenge this. Firstly, in the era of cloud applications, the only infrastructure required to run modern infrastructure is often a data connection. Secondly, the advent of common APIs means that connecting to many applications has become much simpler.

Is there a fear that integration is too complicated?

Possibly. Connecting system A to system B requires some degree of planning. It cannot be denied that there will be some work to line up data fields in either system and to ensure that business processes on either side will still operate with data being added/updated.

Using templated connectors and a proven, rigorous, analysis means that the complications can be minimised. Most businesses are not in the business of running complicated IT projects. Using integration templates, supported by repeatable analysis for non-standard data, means the complications can be quickly resolved.

Is there a fear that integration will take too long?

Possibly. For a myriad of reasons, IT projects have a reputation for taking longer than expected. Most companies are not in the business of running long IT projects, they take energy and focus away from day-to-day operations.

Using a well designed toolset which has a demonstrable ability to rapidly deploy integrations removes a lot of the risk. Templates for many common applications, coupled with underlying foundation connectors for common integration scenarios, mean that any development is fast-tracked before it even begins.

Does it have to be expensive, complicated or time consuming?

Of course not. Although admittedly, if the answer were yes that would be a pretty surprising take for this post!

For all too long, sophisticated integration has been the preserve of large enterprises enterprises who could justify the cost, and associated complications, with managing traditional options. Cloud options and the uniquity of APIs has drastically reduced the cost profile of setting up and operating integrations. Complications can be controlled by using a reliable toolset. And the time to deliver can be accelerated by using re-usable components.

With the introduction of reliable, cloud based infrastructure-as-a-service options, coupled with well designed tooling, sophisticated integration is accessible to companies of all sizes.

Heart
Why is integration so often an afterthought?

PartnersOver the past few months, we've hinted at some of the tooling we've been working on for partners. In the last post, we shared some details of our integration workbench. This work has been part of a broader approach to build a partner community around Seamless so that we can help more people connect more applications more quickly.

We're delighted that to formally launch our partner programme for software delivery partners and distribution partners.
 

What is a software delivery partner?

Software delivery partners are companies who are delivering applications into their client base. They'll be using Seamless to include integrations on a low risk, low cost basis within their projects. These applications could be using an off-the-shelf application - e.g. a Microsoft Dynamics partner - or they could be wholly bespoke applications which need to connect into existing infrastructure.

Our launch partners are Preact, a well known and long-standing Microsoft Dynamics 365 partner and Trillium, a market leader in digital transformation for membership and charity organisations. Over the past few months we've gotten to know the leadership teams at both companies and we're delighted to be working with them.

Preact

Trillium

 

What is a distribution partner?

Distribution partners are companies who specialise in software reselling. They provide insight to purchasers on software selection and maximising the value on license spend. We'll be looking to support software distributors and resellers provide a low risk, lost cost integration option into their distribution networks.

Our launch partner is Grey Matter. Grey Matter have a 35 year history of providing independent and trusted software advice. We're delighted to be working with Grey Matter in the UK and Ireland markets.

Grey Matter
 

How will Recursyv support our partner network?

Recursyv will provide a host of services to partners to make rolling out Seamless integrations quick, easy and efficient.

 
Commercially... 

  • Revenue share - Subscription revenue is shared with partners over the life of the subscription.
  • Additional revenue opportunities - Delivery of integrations may require development of bespoke connectors or configuration of complex integrations using the Seamless workbench. This creates potential for professional services revenue which can be delivered by those partners who have the technical capacity and choose to do so.
  • Marketing - Recursyv will develop various joint marketing activities.

 
Technically...

  • Tooling - The Seamless integration workbench and connector plugin SDK.
  • Training - Recursyv will deliver technical training on the integration workbench and on connector plugin development. There will probably be chocolate chip cookies involved.
  • Connectors -  Partners will have access to all connector plugins in the Seamless plugin library. This includes foundation connectors, application connectors and platform connectors.

 
And operationally ...

  • Support - Recursyv will provide second or third line support to partners (as appropriate) to troubleshoot any integration issues

And - of course - Recursyv will operate the live instances of Seamless and provide the proactive monitoring that comes with operating Seamless as a managed service.
 

What's next?

Our Sales team, led by Andy, is working to grow our partner community - both software delivery partners and distribution partners. If your organisation wants to deliver low risk, low cost integrations, please reach out to us.

Our Engineering team, led by Jon, is working to extend the partner tooling. The tooling will grow to give partners more technical flexibility in deploying and managing larger numbers of integrations. There's some more exciting news in this space to come.

Our Marketing team, led by David, is delighted to have written another blog post and is going to have a cup of tea. And probably a biscuit.
 
 
  Click here to read more about our partner programme.

  Click here to enjoy Recursyv Seamless: Make data islands a think of the past, a lovely online presentation which gives a brief overview of partnering to deliver integrations.

Jumpers
We’re better together – the Seamless partner programme

Over the past few months, we’ve dropped a few hints about the Seamless integration workbench. In this post we wanted to share some more details about the workbench.

Integration Workbench

What’s it good for?

The workbench is all about setting up an integration configuration. An integration configuration describes everything the core Seamless service needs to sync data between different systems. Within the workbench, a user can configure all the variables that make up an integration.

  • Specify the connector plugins that need to be used for this integration
  • Specify any properties the plugins require in order to process data (e.g. connection details for the systems being synced)
  • Specify where data in transit will be hosted (a service bus, a database, a local directory, etc.) and when it will be expired
  • Specify the data queries to retrieve data from the source system
  • Specify the data transforms required before posting data into the target system
  • Specify the timing of data sync from source to target and vice-versa

 

How does it work?

All aspects of an integration are ultimately saved into an XML file. These files can be loaded into the workbench (to continue working on a previous integration) and saved from the workbench (for subsequent deployment into Seamless).

The workbench can also run the integration locally (i.e. on the local machine). This is useful for troubleshooting and debugging integrations before they’re deployed into the cloud. Integrations are run by clicking play and all logging data is provided to the user for analysis.
 

What can it not do?

The workbench can not do the deployment of the config file to a live Seamless service. This was kept out of the workbench to enable separation of design and deployment.

The workbench can not run the integration on an ongoing basis. Options for running locally are limited to a handful of iteration cycles. In practice, you couldn’t use the workbench to run Seamless as a locally hosted integration service.
 

Who gets to use the workbench?

The workbench is provided to all Seamless delivery partners so that they can work on developing integrations. The workbench is also provided to clients who want to specify and build their own integrations – often as part of a broader software project.
 

Does every Seamless user need to use the workbench?

No. Only delivery partners and users who are specifying their own integrations need to use the workbench. Where you’re working with a delivery partner or directly with Recursyv, you won’t have any use for it.
 

How did it come to be called the workbench?

You’d think the term “workbench” was a pretty straightforward moniker for this piece of kit. In the early days, our engineering team creatively labelled this the “Seamless Integration Builder” – descriptive but not particularly exciting. After many, many minutes of discussing prospective names for it, David and Jon moved onto a more pressing conversation about why cycling is a better sport than running. In conversation some months later, one of our clients referred to the tooling as “the workbench” and the name has stuck. Also, the client prefers cycling.

Integration Workbench
The Seamless integration workbench – a primer

RecursyvWe made it easier and cheaper for our client to maintain their service levels.
Tell me more

Just the ticket A leading software & managed service vendor

Walk the walkHow do you tell the difference between “walking the walk” and “talking the talk”? We’re delighted whenever we can meet a less typical client requirement that also enables us to demonstrate different aspects of the Seamless offering.

In this post, we’ve chosen to share the stories of 3 recent implementations that demonstrate different aspects of how Seamless offers flexibility when delivering application integration.

We’re not looking to integrate Microsoft apps

You’ll not be surprised to learn we’re big advocates of Microsoft, but they’re not the only app vendor out there. In a recent implementation, client is using Seamless to keep a pair of helpdesks in sync, one of which runs on BMC Remedy and the other on ManageEngine.

This implementation demonstrates how we can use Microsoft Azure to enable digital transformation outside of the Microsoft realm. Remedy and ManageEngine are both commercial applications from different vendors. We’re using Seamless, running in Azure, to keep them in sync.

We’re not just connecting two applications together

We have a client rolling out Dynamics 365 into an existing architecture which contains an Azure service bus for transporting data across the enterprise. Seamless has been setup to sync data to and from the service bus.

This demonstrates how the componentised nature of Seamless allows us to deploy into more complex contexts than simply syncing between System A & System B. In order to sync to/from a data bus, we only use half of a typical implementation. In turn, this means that we needed to setup some Seamless’ internal data transfer objects differently. The configurability of Seamless meant we were able to achieve this within a few days of joining the project team.

In this instance, we’ve deployed into the client’s Azure estate rather than our own. This enables the client to take advantage of their own existing security infrastructure within Azure, as well as their pre-existing preferential commercial terms from Microsoft.

We’d like to use some of our technical skills

Syncing contacts and accounts between Dynamics and Autotask is bread-and-butter stuff for Seamless, so why is it being mentioned here? In this example, our client, Verdant Services, a consulting and cloud services provider, is configuring their own integration.

Verdant are using the Seamless Integration Workbench to specify data mappings, update transformations and generally take ownership of their integration. As the project progresses, they’re also able to quickly change their integration to move data between various staging and live environments.

This demonstrates the power of the Seamless Integration Workbench. With a few hours training, our client has taken ownership of the integration inside their software delivery project. This enables them to be flexible and respond to the needs of the project as it progresses.

Walk the walk
Walking the walk
Seamless is being used to sync tickets between Remedy and ManageEngine

Recursyv have recently deployed Seamless to integrate between two industry leading ticketing systems: BMC Remedy and ManageEngine.

Remedy / ManageEngine

Our client is an IT Support organisation who use Remedy as their primary helpdesk management tool. In turn, one of their clients uses ManageEngine for their own internal helpdesk. The ManageEngine helpdesk needs visibility of select tickets raised within Remedy so that the onsite team can provide feedback to their user community as those tickets progress.

A sea of complexity

The integration presented a number of new challenges for the Seamless service. It was great to see how our underlying engineering was able to help us address these without requiring updates to the core Seamless service. Instead of talking the talk, it was time to walk the walk.

  • One of the APIs was taking too long to respond to a data request (in excess of 20 minutes/request). This resulted in the Seamless service timing out while waiting for the data. Upon further investigation, we learnt that we could change the API request to retrieve data in a flat structure. In turn, this allowed us to use a Seamless plugin to re-normalise the data. This was a real validation of the plugin architecture and the power of putting processing at the point of need.
  • Neither system sits on the Microsoft stack and yet we’re still able to use Azure as our underlying platform to enable the Digital Transformation for both organisations. Additionally, both systems are on-premise implementations, we’re using Seamless to enable a ground <-> cloud <-> ground hybrid architecture.
  • The Remedy API is SOAP based. The ManageEngine API is RESTful. Seamless’ service bus architecture effectively decouples the integration into separate pieces meaning that connecting a SOAP API to a RESTful API was not a challenge at all.


When is an error not an error?

There is a complex matrix of products and product mappings between the two systems and only tickets which meet certain criteria within this matrix will be accepted by ManageEngine. Tickets which are in the resolver groups for syncing but don’t meet the product mapping criteria need to be identified and updated.

Seamless has the ability to separate errors by type. Tickets which ManageEngine does not accept on the basis of product mapping are identified as “data errors” and forwarded directly to a team at our client. From here, they can be assessed and have the product data corrected (or possibly raise the prospect of adding to the product mapping). Once the product data is corrected, Seamless identifies the ticket as having been updated within Remedy and will attempt to sync it to ManageEngine again.

Recursyv Seamless

Recursyv is focused on making application integration easy to setup and easy to operate. Recursyv’s first integration went live in early 2017 and, since then, a growing number of companies are relying on Recursyv’s Seamless integration solution to keep applications in sync.

Seamless is an application integration service that makes it easy to connect different software applications. New integrations can be quickly setup using Recursyv’s growing library of application connectors. Foundation connectors (SOAP, RESTful) are available to integrate with bespoke applications, either in the cloud or on-premise.

Seamless is provided as a managed service operated by Recursyv. The subscription fee covers access to all Recursyv connectors, initial configuration, pro-active monitoring, the ability to make reasonable configuration changes and support.

Rolling out the Remedy for syncing ticket data

InspirationLet’s face it – integration can be a boring topic. We live and breathe it day in, day out and even our eyes sometimes gloss over. So how did we come to be inspired by delivering integrations at all?

Both of our founders have a background in delivering IT enabled business change. Over 15 years of projects involving new systems, new processes, new ways of working. Pretty much every single one of those projects had two things in common: (1) the new system needed data on day 1 to make it tangible for users to work with and (2) the new system didn’t exist in isolation of other systems. (more…)

Inspiration
Integration? That’s not very inspiring
Seamless has been listed in the Freshdesk Marketplace

Freshdesk

Recursyv’s Freshdesk application connector has been listed in Freshdesk’s integration library. The listing details our connector plugin allowing you to quickly deliver Freshdesk integration to any other application.

Freshdesk integration

One client who has already taken advantage of the connector to integrate Freshdesk with Dynamics is Feefo, the global reviews platform. Feefo’s sales and technical support teams are using different underlying applications meaning that sales (using Microsoft Dynamics) could not see open support tickets (managed within Freshdesk). Seamless is integrating ticket data from Freshdesk into Dynamics to give the sales team complete visibility of what is happening within their client base.

“We wanted to be sure that our sales teams were always fully informed before ringing customers. With Seamless we were able to quickly surface data from our helpdesk into our CRM.” – Wayne Elliot, Sales Manager, Feefo

Freshdesk offers intuitive, feature-rich, affordable customer support software. Freshdesk is part of a growing family of applications from Freshworks which covers all aspects of operating your business. This includes IT service desks, CRM, call center management, recruitment, messaging and online marketing.

Using the Seamless integration solution

Using the connector plugin requires subscribing to a Seamless integration and choosing to integrate to Freshdesk. Integrations can be configured by Recursyv or your own development team (using tooling provided by Recursyv). In most cases, the Freshdesk connector is being used to synchronise core data such as companies, contacts and tickets across systems although it is able to source and update all Freshdesk API accessible data.

Recursyv Seamless

Recursyv is focused on making application integration easy to setup and easy to operate. Recursyv’s first integration went live in early 2017 and, since then, a growing number of companies are relying on Recursyv’s Seamless integration solution to keep applications in sync.

Seamless is an application integration service that makes it easy to connect different software applications. New integrations can be quickly setup using Recursyv’s growing library of application connectors. Foundation connectors (SOAP, RESTful) are available to integrate with bespoke applications, either in the cloud or on-premise.

Seamless is provided as a managed service operated by Recursyv. The subscription fee covers access to all Recursyv connectors, initial configuration, pro-active monitoring, the ability to make reasonable configuration changes and support.

Freshdesk
Getting fresh information into Freshdesk

API codeIn building a range of Seamless connector plugins, we’ve worked with a number of APIs for different platforms. That experience has sometimes been an absolute validation of how the API ecosystems should work (shout out to Dynamics, Autotask and Freshdesk) and sometimes, well, sometimes just a big ol’ steaming pile of unmentionableness.

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API code
Top tips for building a terrible API
Easily integrate with Microsoft Dynamics 365 using Recursyv’s Seamless connector plugin.

Recursyv’s Dynamics 365 Seamless connector plugin is now available for use.

The Dynamics 365 connector allows users to quickly setup Microsoft Dynamics 365 integrations to other applications. Seamless is Recursyv’s application integration service. Seamless connects different applications using connector plugins to accelerate deployment of new integrations. The Dynamics 365 connector allows users to retrieve/update all data within Dynamics including bespoke entities, data fields and lookup values.

“Using the Dynamics 365 connector allowed us to quickly integrate our Dynamics deployment with existing software. Without an option to quickly integrate to Autotask, we would’ve struggled to rollout the Dynamics solution as easily as we did.” – Craig Fisher, Director, Technica Solutions

Is there a need for a new Dynamics integration option?

There is already an established market of existing integration tools which work with Dynamics 365. These have a long heritage in the Dynamics community. In some cases, these tools have some inherent limitations which have been baked in as they’ve evolved. Often, extending the use of these tools beyond their current feature set is hard to achieve.

Seamless allows developers to extend connector plugins, including the Dynamics 365 plugin, using .NET. This allows developers to take advantage of Seamless core features while also providing the flexibility to disable unwanted features and develop bespoke features to meet specific business requirements.

In some cases, existing tools require additional infrastructure and cannot be operated as cloud-only services.

Seamless is delivered entirely in the cloud and requires no additional infrastructure. It is able to connect cloud and on-premises systems to enable true hybrid architectures.

What about tools provided alongside Dynamics 365?
Dynamics 365 enables users to write Azure aware custom plug-ins enabling data to be written to/from an Azure Service Bus. This approach has some structural limitations in that it is based on a trigger driven activity (i.e. when x happens, do y). This approach imposes some limitations on error handling (when a post to Azure fails) and underlying implications on system load within Dynamics.

Seamless is architected as a polling service, this allows it to be more robust in guaranteeing message delivery as well as in configuring its impact on Dynamics system load.

Azure aware Dynamics plugins are predicated on using an Azure Service Bus, requiring additional development to read/write data at the other end of the integration. It also requires the user to establish and manage their own Azure environment requiring them to learn a new technical stack.

Seamless is provided as a managed service connecting two more applications. Plugins already exist for a number of other applications and new plugins for bespoke use can be quickly developed using Seamless plugin framework.

The most recent Dynamics 365 version introduces a feature called Virtual Entities. Although Virtual Entities are great for displaying external data within the Dynamics UI, that data cannot be worked on, updated or analysed within Dynamics.

Seamless places the data into Dynamics 365 as data which can then be used for business processes, updated and synchronised back to the original data source.

Using the Seamless integration solution

The Dynamics 365 plugin is already live in a number of implementations connecting Dynamics to, among others, Autotask, Hoopla and Freshdesk.

Using the connector plugin requires subscribing to a Seamless integration and choosing to integrate to Dynamics 365. Integrations can be configured by Recursyv or your own development team (using tooling provided by Recursyv).

Recursyv Seamless

Recursyv is focused on making application integration easy to setup and easy to operate. Recursyv’s first integration went live in early 2017 and, since then, a growing number of companies are relying on Recursyv’s Seamless integration solution to keep applications in sync.

Seamless is an application integration service that makes it easy to connect different software applications. New integrations can be quickly setup using Recursyv’s growing library of application connectors. Foundation connectors (SOAP, RESTful) are available to integrate with bespoke applications, either in the cloud or on-premise.

Seamless is provided as a managed service operated by Recursyv. The subscription fee covers access to all Recursyv connectors, initial configuration, pro-active monitoring, the ability to make reasonable configuration changes and support.

Being dynamic with Dynamics
Being dynamic with Dynamics 365 Integrations
Seamless has been listed in the Autotask integration library

Recursyv listing

Recursyv’s Autotask <-> Dynamics 365 Seamless integration template is now listed in Autotask’s integration library. The integration template integrates Autotask and Dynamics 365 based on pre-configured data mappings. The integration template includes (1) bi-directional sync of Accounts and Contacts and, optionally, (2) Autotask –> Dynamics sync of tickets.

For more complex requirements, the Autotask connector plugin is able to connect Autotask to Seamless and, from there, to integrate it to any system using Seamless.

“Using the Autotask connector meant we were able to accelerate delivery of additional applications into our business. We used our Autotask data as our initial data set and, after populating the new system, we now keep both systems in sync with each other using Recursyv’s Seamless. It’s great that we’re able to ensure our staff work on the most up-to-date information no matter which system they need to work on.” – Craig Fisher, Director, Technica Solutions

Templated or bespoke?

The integration template listed by Autotask’s includes (1) bi-directional sync of Accounts and Contacts and, optionally, (2) Autotask –> Dynamics sync of tickets. This approach enables businesses using Dynamics for CRM to ensure that customer data is kept in-sync across both systems as well as providing Autotask ticket information as reference data within Dynamics.

Recursyv recognise that different helpdesk operations have different approaches to incident resolution, workflows and queuing. Building an implied operational structure into the template seemed like we’d be making the template harder to use rather than easier to use.

As the integration template uses the Recursyv connector plugins for Autotask and Dynamics 365, all the flexibility of these plugins remains. Users of the integration template can easily extend their use of Seamless to include additional data types (e.g. Autotask Projects), additional list values and/or bi-directional syncing of ticket information.

If you need to sync ticket information bi-directionally, or want to introduce other data types, please reach out to us and we can discuss how to set these up as part of implementing your integration.

Using the Seamless integration solution

The Autotask connector plugin is already live in implementations connecting Dynamics to Autotask. The integration template listed in the Autotask library specifically focuses on connecting Autotask to Dynamics 365. The Seamless Autotask plugin can also be used to connect Autotask to any system using the Seamless platform.

Using the connector plugin requires subscribing to a Seamless integration and choosing to integrate to Autotask. Integrations can be configured by Recursyv or your own development team (using tooling provided by Recursyv).

Recursyv Seamless

Recursyv focuses on making application integration easy to setup and easy to operate. Recursyv’s first integration went live in early 2017 and, since then, a growing number of companies are relying on Recursyv’s Seamless integration solution to keep applications in sync.

Seamless is an application integration service that makes it easy to connect different software applications. New integrations can be quickly setup using Recursyv’s growing library of application connectors. Foundation connectors (SOAP, RESTful) are available to integrate with bespoke applications, either in the cloud or on-premise.

Seamless is provided as a managed service operated by Recursyv. The subscription fee covers access to all Recursyv connectors, pro-active monitoring, the ability to make reasonable configuration changes and support.

 If you’re looking to integrate Autotask with Dynamics, or any other application, please reach out and discuss with us how we can address this, quickly and affordably.

Automate your Autotask integration
Automate your Autotask integration

Engineering

Since the beginning of the year we’ve been working on a particularly thorny deployment. An integration with lots of technical challenges which brought together many features of Seamless for the first time. Jon has been tucked away in “deep dev” mode and, as he prepared to put the integration into test, he wrote a wrap-up note for the rest of our team. The implementation validates a lot of the underlying engineering for Seamless. On reflection, I realised that this integration creates a lot of milestones.
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Engineering
Taking a moment to celebrate the engineering

When we set out to build Seamless, one of the things we focused on, quite obsessively, was that we should reduce risk in a software delivery project. Admittedly, this is a reflection of the backgrounds of our founders: delivery of software. It also vastly undermines the value of delivering Seamless as a managed service. Perhaps we’ve done ourselves a disservice?

Erm – let’s not get ahead of ourselves, have we actually addressed delivery risk?

In the first instance, I’d like trumpet our engineering a little bit. If we need to connect to a relatively modern API (think RESTful or SOAP), we typically have data syncing in under a week. Once we’ve “proved the pipe” (demonstrated that we can move data between source and target), we can shape that as necessary to meet the business requirement. As this is readily demonstrable, the delivery risk is greatly reduced. There is no longer a long period of writing code and hoping for the required outcome.

Getting there is only half the battle

As old hands at “change the business”, we may have fallen into the trap of forgetting about “run the business”. If you’ll forgive the cliche, delivery of a new software solution is the beginning of a journey rather than the end.

A data integration is a living piece of infrastructure that needs to be operated. Even if there are no changes to the business requirement, integrations need to be looked after and cared for.

  • Is the integration able to connect to both source and target?
  • Is the volume of data being moved roughly in line with expectations?
  • Does the integration have enough oomph to ensure that data is sync’ed within the required timeframes?

The Seamless monitoring features, including meaningful alert content, means that keeping tabs on these questions becomes part of the regular operations monitoring regime. Additionally, alerting on exception means that you can assume all is well until told otherwise.

Integration issues are often a symptom of broader problems

One thing we’ve observed is that often issues with the integration are just symptoms of broader problems. Our monitoring is proactive (we go looking for issues) and our reporting is sufficiently detailed that we’re able to help Seamless users spot and trouble-shoot underlying issues, often before they’ve noticed them themselves.

  • Are both the source system and target system accessible? If Seamless is unable to reach systems, is this because of an underlying systems issue that needs to be addressed?
  • Are there data mismatch issues between source and target? Often this is a case of changes to reference data in one system or another.
  • Are data volumes completely outside of the expected data volumes? If so, is this driven by a something in the business (e.g. a sales promotion) or is one of the systems experiencing an underlying issue?

In 2017 we had only one service availability issue. Sure – we’d like it to have been none but, if there’s going to be some downtime, let’s at least handle it elegantly.

In July 2017 there was a short-lived Azure UK connectivity issue. Our alerting meant that we knew it was happening before it was confirmed by Microsoft and we were able to manage expectations across our client base. In turn, this allowed clients to manage expectations within their user community. We also provided the option of redeploying to another Azure geography. Thankfully, the outage was contained to a few non-business hours (for our UK customers) and there was no need to exercise any of these options.

The underlying Seamless service remained live and, as connectivity returned, any data had been “caught out” between source and target was quickly sync’ed by the service.

The only rule of business requirements is that they change

One of our first prospects for Seamless was a company who, as a result of an acquisition, found themselves with two software platforms for managing helpdesk tickets across their considerable IT estate. As part of the merger process, a vendor had written a point-to-point integration which sync’ed relevant tickets back and forth.

Six months down the line, there was a need to change the rules for which tickets would sync between the apps. After months of avoiding the question and 3 days of consulting work (on fees), the vendor quoted tens of thousands of pounds to change the integration. These were well known, well documented apps with mature APIs, updating the integration should’ve been a piece of cake. It became easier to change business rules inside the company than to change the integration and that’s just not how IT should work.

The use of config and straight-forward mapping features within Seamless means that meeting the needs of changing business requirements doesn’t require re-engineering entire integrations every time a field, a data map or an option set changes.

Not every IT organisation is the same

This blog post was, in part, inspired by a conversation with a prospective client. In our initial conversation, the primary concern was about delivery timescales of the integration requirements. As the conversation progressed, it was also discussed that the broader procurement strategy was to use contractors to deliver software with a view to streamlining the size of the in-house IT team. That’s not uncommon, by their very nature, project teams are short-term creatures designed to achieve an outcome (rollout of new software).

In discussing why Seamless may be a better option than using contract developers to build a point-to-point solution, I stressed not only the delivery risk and timing considerations, but that the managed service remains in place after the project team is stood down. This enables the in-house IT team to focus their effort where they can deliver more “bang for buck” whilst the Seamless monitoring ensures that when issues occur, the IT team are quickly informed with meaningful information to trouble-shoot any underlying systems issues.

Managed service
Tomorrow’s IT operations are as important as today’s software delivery

Data accuracy is like communication within a relationship. We all like to believe we have the perfect solution for ensuring that all data is always up-to-date, but the harsh realities of life get in the way.

When we discuss data synchronisation solutions with prospective clients, we sometimes stumble upon the idea that a given system within a company is the company’s golden source for data. Often this is the invoicing platform, which makes some sense given that invoicing drives revenue. However, it is naïve to think that the finance team are likely to have the latest information. The finance team will typically engage with a limited number of people and they’re only likely to find out about information changes after the fact. Possibly only a few weeks later when invoices are returned.

Rather than a golden data source, we believe in the notion of a data mesh. A data mesh is a world where data is updated at the point that it becomes evident that it is out of date. This could be by any user within the organisation (subject to appropriate security considerations). Additionally, it is likely that different users have interest in pieces of information. For example, sales team may want to understand prospective buyers, the finance team are likely to engage with their finance counterparts.

 

A data mesh world

In a “data mesh world”

  • all users have access to the most up-to-date information available and
  • all users have the ability to add to and/or update the information on hand … which then becomes available to all other users (see above)

A data mesh world is created by allowing data to flow seamlessly across systems. That’s not to say that all data should be in all systems at all times. That would be a crazy world which undermines usability across systems. Different systems support different purposes and the relevant data within them should be up-to-date.

  • Customer data is likely to appear across most systems, particularly externally facing systems (e.g. CRM system, line of business system, customer support system and finance/accounting platform).
  • Transactional data may only appear in the line of business and finance systems.
  • Sales data (e.g. prospective opportunities) may only appear in the CRM system and not be necessary elsewhere.

It may also be that some data is summarised or aggregated when presented in other systems. Where appropriate, good user experience will allow relevant users to easily move between systems as their work requires them to do so. Naturally, this needs to be supported by relevant role based security policies across the various systems.

  • A summary of support activity (e.g. number of tickets raised, open, closed) may show within the CRM but to access individual tickets, users need to click through to the support system
  • Current account balances may show in the CRM system but individual transaction data is accessible only by clicking through to the finance system

In reality, this results in a complex web of systems where the same data is actually stored in multiple places. This is unlikely to meet a theoretically ideal software architecture, but it does reflect the far more likely reality of most organisations. Different software solutions used by different parts of the business relying on overlapping data sets.

 

Creating a data mesh world

Creating the data mesh requires enabling technology which seamlessly synchronises data across the various systems. The technology needs to deployed with underlying rules addressing relevant scenarios (e.g. what happens when data is updated in two places simultaneously). The technology also needs to be flexible enough to easily accommodate ongoing change, either of the business process or of the underlying software. It needs to be easy to extend the data being synchronised, to introduce new data fields, to change the data processing rules, etc.

The data mesh has to deliver meaningful information when needed while always being ready to handle changes both externally and internally. Sure, a data mesh needs updating and refreshing as the world changes, but that just reflects the messy reality of the world. Just like communication in a relationship.

Data mesh
The data mesh and the enduring myth of a golden data source

When we’re discussing integrations with prospective clients, one question that seems to come up every so often is “We’ve got a dev team as part of the project, why don’t they just build it?” It’s not an unreasonable question, if there’s no compelling argument for using an integration service then why bother with one?

 

Getting to grips with integration development

Having some insight into how an integration works will provide some useful context. In simple terms, a straightforward integration follows roughly these steps:

  1. Get specific data from the data source (i.e. construct the relevant queries)
  2. Assess whether that data has changed since the last time we got it
  3. Decide whether the data needs to be posted to the target system
  4. Encrypt the data
  5. Compress the data
  6. Move the data from source to target
  7. Decompress the data
  8. Decrypt the data
  9. Transform the data
  10. Write the data to target

I should add that those steps are of differing levels of complexity in different scenarios. At a simple level, some systems can provide data which has changed since we last saw it, some systems cannot and the integration needs to perform the compare. At a more complex level, some systems have sophisticated APIs which allow us to construct queries “on the fly” using configurable options, some systems require us to hard code the queries before we can execute them.

In the cold light of day, most of these steps are generic:

  • Step 1 is specific to the source system but not necessarily to your business need, that is to say – “Dear system, please tell me about new records created in the past 30 seconds” is a generic request of whatever system you’re using. It is not specific to your business need. If the source is bespoke, then naturally it is a wholly bespoke step.
  • Step 2 is typically generic, but will be driven by business need.
  • Step 3 is a business decision largely informed by the outcome of Step 2.
  • Steps 4 through 8 are generic for any (well designed) integration.
  • Step 9 is specific to your setup in the target system. The data transformation will need to reflect the data structures in your target system, including both the overall data structure (an account in the source may be called a company in the target) and potential dropdown list values (Mister maps to Mr, status set to “Active” maps to status set to “Live”, etc.).
  • Step 10 is specific to the target system in the same way that step 1 is specific to the source system.

Steps 1 and 10 are specific to the “technical scenario” (i.e. the systems in play) and steps 3 and 7 are where your business requirements are going to drive how the integration should work. The rest of it is pretty much the same, whether you’re connecting your CRM to your helpdesk or your accounting package to a front-end e-commerce system.

 

Paying to reinvent the wheel

With that in mind, let’s return to the question: “We’ve got a dev team as part of the project, why don’t they just build it?” The short answer is “Because the vast bulk of their development effort would be spent on generic integration features which are already accessible to you at a much lesser cost than building them yourself.”

Naturally, there is more complexity to the answer. In my experience, point-to-point integrations are usually developed to a “minimum functioning feature set”, i.e. they can get the right data from A to B on day one. That’s not necessarily a terrible place to be, but it is not as good as it could be.

A service built first and foremost as an integration service will offer sophisticated features which your project budget is unlikely to underwrite for a single point-to-point integration. Encryption, compression, elegant management of downtime at the source or target, ability to be easily extended, etc. All of these features need to be designed and built.

Additionally, developers are not “just developers”. That’s like saying builders are just builders. The technical skills required to marshal data, overcome infrastructure and connectivity complexity, manage reporting, etc. are quite different to the skills required to configure / build your new application. Sure, there’s some overlap. Most bricklayers can do some paintwork, but for painting decorative ceiling cornices, I’d rather get a painter.

 

The big picture

In a 2015 paper on digital transformation projects, Gartner noted that “many organizations already favor a new kind of “build” that does not include out-of-the-box solutions, but instead is a combination of application components that are differentiated, innovative and not standard software or software with professional services (for customization and integration requirements), or solutions that are increasingly sourced from startups, disrupters or specialized local providers.”

We’re happy to be one of those startups, even if it means using American spellings on our blog post.

 

Why don’t we just get the dev team to build it?

Although Inspire finished last week, I was lucky enough to take a few days to explore Washington, D.C. While pounding the pavements, I began to think about all we had seen and learnt. Although I will work through my notes in detail (hooray for OneNote), I wanted to share a few initial reflections while they were fresh in mind. They range from thoughts about our own products to how to get the best out of investing in similar conferences.

In no particular order …

  1. Microsoft want it to be easy for partners to engage with Microsoft. The new partner model, is about simplifying relationships with Microsoft to make it easier to build, market and sell. For a small ISV such as ourselves, this is only good news. We cannot yet tell if it will work, but the design ambition supports our business and we’re excited by that.
  2. Microsoft want it to be easy for SMBs to consume Microsoft products. Microsoft 365 is a significant statement of intent. An aspect of our own vision is about making it easy for SMB size customers to access enterprise class tools. In our world, this is about integration (Seamless) and Dynamics 365 (Sales In-a-Box). We’re delighted that there is broader recognition of this thinking.
  3. Verticalise. Verticalise. Verticalise. This is not a new theme but it certainly remains top of mind for Microsoft. As a provider of a horizontal solution (Seamless), this is a challenge for us. One of our actions is to work out how position our Seamless service into a verticalised market offering. Watch this space.
  4. Just chat to people. Everyone is at the conference to talk about Microsoft technologies and you have no idea whether a conversation might become an opportunity. One of our most promising opportunities was born out of a discussion about tourist highlights in D.C.
  5. At such a big event, you need to play to your strengths. We have a confession to make: we didn’t go to the UK Regional Party! Scandalous, I know, but both Jon and I recognised that a party style function was just one that we don’t enjoy and are unlikely to get much out of. Between ourselves, we had some doubts and we needed to convince ourselves that it was okay to play truant, but ultimately we decided there’s no sense moping around where we didn’t want to be. We took the evening to get a good pizza and discuss product ideas in the wake of what we were learning at the conference.
  6. Put time into the exhibition showcase. It can be easy to dismiss it as swag (more on that later) and marketing pamphlets, but we spent a few hours browsing and discussing our technologies with exhibitors. For the time we invested, we learnt about many things we hadn’t seen before and we have a few follow-up conversations to pursue.
  7. Swag 2017 is all about the fidget spinners. I keep on reminding Jon that I didn’t get 22 “free” fidget spinners as I paid a hefty sum to be at the conference. More seriously though, a week later I probably couldn’t name one company that gave me a fidget spinner. Without making an obvious brand message link, it seems (to me) that swag is just a waste of money. And it doesn’t have to that hard, for a fidget spinner it could be as simple as “No need to be distracted when our software is deployed.” That said, my kids are probably expert in the Microsoft ecosystem by now.
  8. Microsoft is an inspiring company. Yes, it sounds like I’ve been drinking the Kool Aid (in four colours, of course) but hear me out. Every major presentation starts with the mission statement and the content is aligned to the mission. There is a line of clarity from how the work we’re doing lines up to the broader mission of the company. More importantly, talk of diversity is more than empty rhetoric when there is evidence of value based behaviours all over the conference site.
  9. Jon and I need to make time to talk about the business. Over the past quarter I feel we’d fallen out of the habit of thinking beyond the next week or two. One of our personal reflections is that we need to be sure to separate our time between strategic considerations for our business and operational work in the coming days and weeks. The time we spent pounding the pavement across D.C. was a good reminder.
  10. Client experience counts. At a 4 day conference for 17 000 people, we had one hiccup (getting into the Verizon Centre for the first keynote where security lines were too long). It felt as if this had been addressed by the next day. Otherwise the whole event ran as smoothly as clockwork. This includes sessions, the expo, moving people between dozens of hotels and two conference sites, connectivity issues, pre-arranged meetings, the conference app, social events, etc. etc. It was impressive to observe and a delight to be part of.
  11. I look better with make-up on. According to the make-up artist at the LinkedIn stand where I had a new profile shot taken, it was to “take the shine off” and “make my hair pop”. Admittedly, the surface area for shine has grown somewhat since the last time I updated my profile pic.
  12. Finally, if you’re going to Inspire in Vegas next year, and we’re certainly aspiring to do so, wear comfy shoes.

 

PS Jon reckons that if had branded “Back to the Future” style hoverboards, we wouldn’t need to worry about the brand message as they’d just be cool. Admittedly, if  we knew were to get those hoverboards, we’d probably be in the business of marketing hoverboards rather than data integrations.

Inspire keynote
Microsoft Inspire – a dozen reflections

It’s hard to write a post which talks about any virtues associated with downtime but, in the wake of last night’s Azure UK outage, we had some small sense of satisfaction that Seamless behaved both as we designed and would’ve hoped. Connectivity to the UK South Azure data centre was lost between about 22:30 and 01:40.

 

 

Accepting that we weren’t going to fix Azure’s connectivity issues, where do we see the positives for Seamless?

 

1. Our alerting let us know it was happening (before Microsoft confirmed any issues)

The Seamless monitoring alerted us to the first connectivity alert at approx. 19:43. This seemed to be an isolated alert, however we received a second connectivity alert at 22:30 and they began to be raised regularly at that time. We then began our own investigation and the Azure service page confirmed a connectivity issue at approx. 23:30. Shortly after that, we issued our alert to the Seamless user community.

 

2. When Azure connectivity returned, Seamless shrugged its shoulders and carried on working

Bearing in mind that connectivity was the primary issue, the service itself actually continued running. As soon as connectivity was restored, data continued sync’ing with no intervention from us (or, of course, our customers). Any data that had not been collected at source would’ve then been collected and posted to target systems. Any data “in transit” when the connectivity issues started was processed and sync’ed to relevant target(s).

 

3. We had mitigation actions ready in case we needed to support customers

Our mitigation options are typically to redeploy the service and the config to other Azure locations (subject to relevant instructions from our customers bearing in mind potential data considerations). In the event that the UK South region was not restored by the start of the business day, we were in a position to relocate the service and client configurations to Western Europe (Dublin). This would’ve taken us less than an hour and no data would’ve been lost in this process.

As Microsoft restored the Azure service around 01:40, this was not necessary.

 

 

No-one likes downtime and we recognise that we’re lucky that these 3 hours were outside of core business hours for our current customer base. In practice, we continue to believe that a Microsoft data centre is more secure and robust than were we to build our own.  In this light, we architected the Seamless service to “fail elegantly” and although disappointed this had to be tested in anger, we’re delighted that it worked as we would’ve expected it to.

Azure down
No-one likes downtime. But if it has to happen, at least make it happen elegantly

As we’re working to build the partner network around Seamless, I am often talking through (what we believe to be) the benefits of using Seamless for delivery of integrations. We have a background in delivering IT change projects and one of our favourite Seamless benefits is that developing integrations becomes much much quicker. If we have a connector plugin already built, it is simply a matter of specifying the right fields and associated rules. If we don’t, we can often build one in under a week (assuming being reasonable API access).

For companies who make a lot of their revenue selling time (i.e. time taken by software engineers to build applications), it seems counter-intuitive that we’re touting shorter projects as a benefit. Er, what’s up with that?

 

Our response is simple: I’d rather you sold a 60 day project than lost a 120 day project to a competitor.

Our partners will be competing with any number of other organisations who will have different ways to deliver software. Today’s average user has experience of sophisticated web services and expects that software delivery companies can quickly connect up different services. Agile approaches add an additional dimension of expectation because clients expect to see phased delivery of packages of requirements.

Sure, reducing delivery time reduces upfront professional services revenue, but it makes our partners’ projects more commercially attractive. If this can be done in a way that also reduces risk (using technology that is proven to work) and increases flexibility (extendable plugins, a myriad of configuration options, etc.), then the offer becomes more attractive on day one (commercially) and over time (ability to adapt to inevitable business change).

Finally, let’s not lose sight of that fact that, over time, “lost” revenue may be recovered (plus more) through sharing of the subscription fee.

 

 

 Learn more about partnering with Seamless. We could talk about it all day.

The counter-intuitive benefit of shorter projects

In about a month we’ll be headed off to Washington, D.C. to join the Microsoft partner community at Microsoft’s global partner conference, Inspire. Attending Inspire with something to say was always a goal for us when we set out. We knew we were working in the Microsoft world and the partner conference is the place to build a network around any Microsoft enabled business.

As you can imagine, a conference of this nature is a significant expense. There are conference tickets to be purchased, flights, accommodation, food and Hard Rock souvenir pin badges. (If Jon doesn’t read this post carefully, I’ll try expense the pins … watch this space!) Returning home with a just handful of business cards would be a significant failure. We consulted with former attendees and built out our plan. With about a month to go, we’re doing okay and I thought it might be interesting if we shared some of our thinking.

 

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Microsoft Inspire
Splashing the big bucks, our Microsoft Inspire story (part 1 … part 2 when we’re back)

The initial development of Seamless focused on ensuring we could support clients and opportunities that we were, at the time, working on. That quickly resulted in connector plugins for Microsoft Dynamics, Freshdesk, Autotask, Hoopla and SharePoint lists. As these have been stable and in use for a while now, this has given us the chance to focus on building connector plugins for more popular enterprise-grade tools.

That left us with an interesting choice … what next? We decided we’d focus on a handful of widely used applications which are deployed in thousands of different ways at organisations across the globe: Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL and Oracle. We’re delighted to announce these are now built, tested and hungry for data.

 

Seamless wall of fame May 2017

 

These plugins are all configurable, offering the best mix of rapid deployment and ability to control and extend the plugin’s work to meet the requirement at hand.

  • Configure mappings (i.e. fields to integrate) using XML to identify relevant tables and fields
  • Extend the feature set of these plugins using .Net to code extensions which are deployed on top of the existing plugins (i.e. you are not constrained by the limitations of any given plugin)

 

 If you have an integration need for any of these technologies, please reach out and discuss with us how we can address this, quickly and affordably.

 More information on Seamless can be found here.

Seamless wall of fame May 2017
Rolling out the big guns – SQL Server, MySQL and Oracle

FeefoSales personnel want full visibility of what is happening within their accounts.
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Enabling an informed sales team Feefo

Technica SolutionsSales and Support teams always working from the latest information.
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Two teams, two systems, one data set Technica Solutions

FeefoFeefo’s sales teams are using gamification to bring sales targets to life.
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Eyes on the prize Feefo

Feefo’s sales teams, like most, are incentivised against a series of targets and they use gamification to bring those targets to life.

 

Feefo
Eyes on the prize

Sales and Support teams always need up-to-date information.

Technica Solutions
Two teams, two systems, one data set

Sales personnel want full visibility of what is happening within their accounts.

 

Feefo
Enabling an informed sales team

As much as it pains me to admit it, I fear that Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin were onto something when they coined the term “conscious decoupling”. In the data integration space, the ability to break down a service into components is a significant enabler of flexibility. That’s good because technical flexibility translates to business flexibility. If the only constant is change, as we’re so often told, then flexibility in technical architectures is the way to prepare for change. (more…)

Lego City
Business flexibility, celeb news, Lego modelling and IT architectures – you heard it here first
Recursyv Seamless

Seamless is an application integration service that makes it easy to connect different software applications. New integrations can be quickly setup using Recursyv's growing library of application connectors. Foundation connectors (SOAP, RESTful) are available to integrate with bespoke applications, either in the cloud or on-premise.

Seamless is provided as a managed service operated by Recursyv. The subscription fee covers access to all Recursyv connectors, initial configuration, pro-active monitoring, the ability to make reasonable configuration changes and support.