On the Radar: Jitterbit

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Jitterbit is a specialist software vendor focused on integration across cloud platforms and customers’ data centres. Its core product, the Harmony Platform, is a cloud-based integration platform that offers transactional application and data integration, API creation and API management capabilities. Integrations can be deployed in the cloud, or on premise.

Who?

Jitterbit (www.jitterbit.com) is a specialist software vendor focused on integration across cloud platforms and customers’ data centres. Jitterbit was founded in 2003, and is venture funded. Jitterbit is based in Alameda CA, and also has offices in the UK (London), The Netherlands (Amsterdam) and Australia.

What does it do?

Jitterbit’s core product, the Harmony Platform, is a cloud-based integration platform that offers transactional application and data integration, API creation and API management capabilities. Integrations can be deployed in the cloud, or on premise.

The Harmony Platform has five core elements:

  • Jitterbit Studio. This Java-based design tool, available for Windows and Mac, is aimed at technical integration designers. Its core functionality is based around two graphical tools: one for specifying data mapping and transformation operations, and the other for designing integration workflows that orchestrate mapping and transformation operations together with other automated validation and decision steps. An ‘AutoMapper’ function offers suggested data mappings between source and target types based on similarities between source and target field names; in addition, there’s a plugin architecture – with a set of prebuilt plugins – that enables you to implement additional technical connectivity functionality without scripting (for example, encrypting/decrypting data, compressing/uncompressing files and so on). If you do need to script some custom behaviour, you can use the proprietary Jitterbit Script Language – and the Formula Builder editing tool provided to help you create scripts – to do that. You can use Jitterbit Studio to create and validate complete integration specifications ready for deployment; but you can also create (and indeed, consume) integration specification templates called ‘Jitterpaks’.
  • The Web Management Console. Developers and administrators use the functionality here to set up one or more deployment environments (so you can, for example, have separate development, test, a production environments in place); configure groups of Smart Agents (see below) to execute your integration specifications within those environments; deploy specifications; and create, secure, version and monitor HTTP and OData APIs for your integrations. This is also home to the API Creation and Management functionality of Harmony. Here, users can click to configure API access rules, set throttling and rate limits, and monitor and analyze the usage and health of their APIs.
  • The API Gateway. The Harmony API Gateway provides security and management capabilities for all APIs. APIs are published to the Cloud API Gateway and can be deployed to run 100% in the Harmony Cloud, a Private Cloud, or behind your firewall. The Harmony API Gateway routes all API request and responses and guaranteed messaging ensures that all API calls and their payloads make it to their destination.
  • Citizen Integrator. Part of the Web Management Console, this cloud-based tool is aimed at a broader base of individuals and provides users with a high-level, configuration-based design experience based around the selection and completion of specialised integration templates called ‘Recipes’. Jitterbit and its partners are responsible for creating and managing an ever-growing set of prebuilt Recipes that are pre-configured to make the process of integrating with popular cloud-based application services simple; importantly, the packaging tools and specifications are open – which means that in addition, your own technical designers and developers can augment Jitterpak templates they’ve created (see above) with additional configuration metadata to create Recipes for internal enterprise use.
  • Smart Agents. Smart Agents provide the runtime services that execute the integration specifications created within Jitterbit Studio and Citizen Integrator. Cloud Agents are hosted and managed as part of the Harmony Platform cloud service; Local Agents can be deployed on-premise to Linux or Windows Server hosts. Integration operations deployed to Smart Agents can be triggered by external events; or alternatively you can specify that they should run in ‘batch mode’ according to a schedule you define.

Licensing the Harmony Platform gives you access to hundreds of external integration endpoints representing platforms, applications and data sources (see https://www.jitterbit.com/platform/ipaas-connectors-apis-and-connectivity for a full list). In addition, there are around a dozen specialised Connectors provided for popular enterprise endpoints (including Autodesk, Clarizen, JMS middleware, Microsoft Dynamics AX and CRM, NetSuite, Oracle, Salesforce Wave Analytics, SAP and Siebel); you choose from this overall connectivity library according to the product license level you’ve selected (see below). Jitterbit also provides a library of around 200 pre-built Recipes for use with Citizen Integrator; it’s growing this library with additional Recipes constantly and expects to have over 500 by the end of the year.

Jitterbit also offers packaged solutions based around commonly-occurring use cases and integration endpoints. There are solutions for Salesforce (indeed, Salesforce’s own Connect technology is enabled by Harmony) and NetSuite. There’s also Harmony Hub: a licensing option that enables you to license, embed and configure the Harmony Platform in your own online products and services, so you can offer integration tools and services to your customers instead of plain APIs.

Lastly, Jitterbit also offers implementation and support services. Implementation services can be delivered remotely or on-site (globally); customers usually choose a blend of the two, with on-site support principally used at the start and end of engagements.

Each product subscription includes access to online and on-demand training. Each customer is guided through a customised onboarding process, and assigned a dedicated customer success manager. Moreover Jitterbit experts will scope the effort needed to implement any integration project so customers know exactly how long a particular effort should take.

Who is it for?

Jitterbit targets medium-to large-sized organisations adopting cloud-first strategies, regardless of their industry. The Harmony Platform is used most often to enable hybrid integration across on-premises systems and cloud platforms: over 80% of customers are doing this. Further, the API creation and management features of the platform are also widely-used: Jitterbit claims that over 70% of its customers expose integrations internally or externally in the form of APIs, using the Harmony Platform.

Jitterbit runs a tiered pricing scheme, with each pricing tier including larger bundles of connectors, the ability to add on more features (EDI support, on-premise scalability etc.) and premium support features. There are Standard, Professional and Enterprise Editions – and there’s also a custom pricing tier that the company’s largest clients typically opt for. API Management functionality is charged depending on the number of custom APIs created and the number times those custom APIs are called. Also worth noting is that API Management functionality is only currently available in the Professional tier and above.

Why is it interesting?

Jitterbit and its Harmony Platform are particularly interesting for two reasons.

Firstly, there’s good support for organisations wanting to better balance integration work supply and demand across teams. Teams using Citizen Integrator can use Jitterbit-supplied Recipes in their work; but equally, technical staff can create reusable, customisable integration templates from within Jitterbit Studio and package those as Recipes for business teams to work with within Citizen Integrator.

Secondly, there’s a well-developed technology and business capability in place that makes it straightforward for organisations to license and ‘white-label’ the Harmony Platform, offering ‘branded Recipes’ to their customers. If you offer a digital product or service, providing a white-labeled and preconfigured version of the Harmony Platform rather than simply offering an open API means you’re asking your client’s staff to do much less work to connect to your product.

How established is it?

Jitterbit was established in 2003, so now has a significant heritage in the integration technology market. CEO George Gallegos and CMO Simon Peel are both veterans of integration specialist Cast Iron (acquired by IBM), and other senior executives have history at IBM, Accenture, Salesforce, Siebel, GTNexus and Scribe Software.

Jitterbit claims around 1,000 paying enterprise customers, and a base of around 50,000 users (including users of free trials). Paying customers span a wide variety of industries, including manufacturing (Sika, Goodyear, Ricoh, 3M, Del Monte); technology (Salesforce, HP, Autodesk, Xerox, Cisco); healthcare and life sciences (ASCO CancerLinq, Bayer, Dignity Health); transportation and logistics (Raytheon, Schenker, GT Nexus); retail (Sunkist, Office Depot) and energy (Shell).

The company has taken two rounds of venture funding: a $5m Series A round in 2012 and a $20m Series B round in 2016 and now has enough capital to take it through to an IPO expected in the next 18-24 months.

How open is it?

As you would hope is the case with an integration platform, the Harmony Platform is designed with openness in mind.

A wide variety of transport protocols is supported: including SOAP, HTTP/REST, plain HTTP/S, FTP, ODBC/JDBC, LDAP, and file-sharing protocols SMB and Samba. There are connectors for all major RDBMSs; native file-handling functions to deal with XML, JSON, WSDL, delimited flat files (eg CSV), hierarchical flat files, Excel files and EDI structures. Jitterbit also provides an SDK supporting Java, .NET and Node – enabling customers to build their own custom connectors when needed.

Although the Harmony Platform is itself hosted by Jitterbit, your integrations can run Smart Agents installed in your data centre (on Linux or Windows servers), in the AWS-hosted Harmony Cloud, or on Microsoft Azure (via Azure Linux Server instances).

Who does it partner with?

Jitterbit currently claims around 100 integration partners. Integration partners include Bluewolf (part of IBM), NTT Data, Capgemini, Accenture; technology partners include Workday, Red Hat, Salesforce, ServiceMax, Autodesk, Netsuite, SAP, Microsoft and Oracle. There’s also a network of resellers, including Autodesk.

Are there areas for improvement?

Jitterbit’s technology has a number of real strengths and some strong differentiation points, and the company has an experienced leadership team. However there is still room for improvement, of course. At the time of writing there’s room for improvement in API Management: although it’s possible to quickly implement simple username/password-based API client authentication schemes, common (but slightly more involved) schemes like OAuth aren’t yet supported. Moreover there’s no support for implementing quality-of-service management via policies or any other mechanisms – something that can be important when you want to expose external APIs for commercial use. However these two items are both in development, and planned for release soon.

We’d also like to see a web-based version of the Jitterbit Studio (which currently requires a local installation). Jitterbit is working on this.

What’s next?

Jitterbit is working on extending its API Management capabilities in the second half of 2017 (particularly in the areas of QoS management and authentication, as noted above). It also plans to release a new Developer Portal, aimed at customers and partners, which will deliver marketplace-like functionality enabling this community to more easily consume and produce ready-made APIs that are implemented by Jitterbit integration services.

Lastly, as mentioned above, the company also plans to release a new web-based Jitterbit Studio.

Should I consider it?

If your organisation is embracing cloud-based platforms for applications and technologies and particularly if you want to enable technology teams to work collaboratively with business teams to drive rapid integration, then you should explore Jitterbit’s potential.

If you’re currently building digital products or services and want a way to add value to your propositions by enabling simpler integration, then licensing the Harmony Platform as part of your own offerings is definitely worth investigating.

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