The ‘Go-To Guy’: Boomi Community Champion, Greg Kane

May 20, 2020 Charles Waltner

The Boomi Community is the hub of our relationship with our customers. It is where they find answers to their questions, learn how to get the most from the Boomi platform, and engage with their peers to understand the best approaches to their integration challenges.

The heart of the Boomi Community is its members. Throughout the year, we recognize the most active and helpful individuals in this group. These leaders set the standard for how Community members can contribute and cultivate a rich conversation that helps everyone become better at integration.

We call these people our Community Champions. They are remarkable in their commitment to making the Community the best possible resource for integration professionals.

Greg KaneOur latest Community Champion is Greg Kane, an integration architect at Acme Brick in Fort Worth, Texas.

When it comes to computers, Kane has seen it all and done it all in the nearly 40 years since he graduated from college. Starting out as a mainframe COBOL programmer, Kane went on to database administration and managing enterprise applications long before low-code integration arrived on the scene.

Now going on seven years at Acme Brick, Kane looks back with appreciation at how his career has evolved. Fortunately for the Boomi Community, he enjoys sharing his knowledge.

How did your career path lead you to become an integration architect?

Greg Kane: I graduated from college in 1983, and I was a mainframe COBOL programmer in a prior life. I did [COBOL programming] with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service for five or six years. I really wanted to get into PC stuff so I went to work for a small database development company located in Dallas and started out working in Paradox, then moved to Visual Basic and Visual Basic.NET.

From there I got into C# development. I worked my way up to application development manager, did a go-live on SAP, then went back to doing C# and ASP.NET development. Then I got a job with another company as an application development manager and also worked on JD Edwards.

Pretty much my whole career has been me working on whatever needed to be worked on. I'm kind of the go-to guy. When I went to Acme Brick, I was brought in mainly as a JDE EnterpriseOne system administrator and did have to learn that. Our JDE runs on SQL Server. I also did some DB2 work on our POS system as well as learned to code in Transform, our document management system. Sometimes I stop and think, "I was a COBOL mainframe programmer, now I'm doing Boomi. I've evolved with the industry."

How did you get into using Boomi for integrations at Acme Brick?

Greg Kane: A couple of years back a new vice president came in and said she wanted to look at the cloud-first for any new applications. Keeping that in mind, we wanted a standardized integration tool. So, we started looking at different iPaaS (integration platform as a service) products. Boomi was in our first round, and we looked at several others.

There's some other good stuff out there, but not when it comes to pricing. There was one product where the sales guy couldn't even explain how much it was going to cost us. That company has some weird formula for how they calculate the data traffic and connections, and it was just crazy. We still joke about that.

The other thing that I really liked about Boomi was the sales process. As part of that, they connected me with one of their engineers and let me connect to SQL Server and bring some data back. It's one thing to see a demo, and it's another thing to actually talk to your own database and pull some of your own data.

What did you think about low-code integration after all the hand-coding you had done?

Greg Kane: I was kind of skeptical at first. The demos looked great, but I was kind of wondering about the whole low-code/no-code kind of platform. The integrations I've done in the past have all been handwritten.

So, with Boomi, low-code works really well. It took me a minute to get my mind around how documents flow through a process, but once you've got that, you work within the framework.

The Boomi Platform has lots of connectors and controls. It's much more productive. Often you can either copy an existing process or follow the same flow. You can knock stuff out really quickly and the testing is a lot easier, as well.

We've had Boomi for just under two years now. I would love to spend every day of every week working in Boomi because I really like working in it, but I do have some other responsibilities. Once you get up to speed on Boomi, you can be very productive and crank some integrations out even if you aren't doing it full time.

"The Boomi Community helps people take off their blinders and see other ways of solving problems."

— Greg Kane, Integration Architect, Acme Brick

What was your first integration project using Boomi?

Greg Kane: Our first project was actually pretty big, and I hadn't used the Boomi Platform before other than the Boomi courses online.

We needed to integrate our supply chain management [SCM] system on the Oracle Cloud.  For the project, I had to pull the data from JD Edwards and combine it all into a zip file that gets 64-bit encoded. It is then uploaded to Oracle Cloud.

I had to kick off our process in Oracle Cloud to take that data and process it. Then in Boomi I had to figure out when that was done. So, depending on which one of the multiple processes I was running, that could take anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes.

With Boomi, I was able to automate this by writing a loop to keep checking the status of this Web service call so I could continue when it was finished.

That was my first project with Boomi, and it was a success. It still runs every weeknight. Now, we have probably 10 or 11 integrations in production.

What do you love about the Boomi Community? How do you use it?

Greg Kane: I go there every day and read a lot. It's amazing – just when you think you know it all, you see something that makes you realize there's so much more to learn. And as we get more cloud-oriented in our applications, I'll have a chance to learn more.

I started using the Boomiverse right away because I was a little overwhelmed with that big SCM cloud integration. I asked questions and was amazed at how quickly I would see a helpful response — a lot of times within an hour. Everyone was very friendly, much more so than you usually see on the internet.

Having an active user community where I could get answers from real-world people using the product was a big plus. Then I started trying to answer some questions as well. A couple of things I answered was stuff I really hadn't done yet but I thought I knew the answers so I'd do a little prototype and figure it out. I read and learned a lot.

The other thing about the Boomiverse is it's just so varied. I've seen stuff out there that I don’t need right now but it piqued my interest and now it's in my toolbox. When I come across that, I'll remember it and say, oh yeah, I can do that.

The Boomi Community helps people take off their blinders and see other ways of solving problems. Sometimes you'll get more probing questions that make you think maybe a little differently and sometimes that will even get you over the hump with your own design challenge.

What is your advice for an up-and-coming integration developer on approaching integration with Boomi?

Greg Kane: Jump into some of the online training from Boomi. It's really good and has some labs to get you going.

If you haven’t already, go back and finish the developer courses and developer training. I went back through some of the courses again after my first project and picked up some things that just didn’t sink in when I first went through.

The other thing is to break your integration into small chunks. Develop a small piece and then expand on that. I made the mistake of trying to build a fairly large integration upfront, but then I ended up spending lots of effort looking for bugs. It was frustrating.

If you build little pieces and get those working, then add another piece to it and get those working together, then the project will go a lot faster. In my experience, adding more milestones actually helps you get the project done faster.

For example, with that SCM project, I had to pull 13 different sets of data. I would start on the innermost part and write a little process and just pull one set of data and then test it out and get it working. Now I've built 13 of them because I built one small one first and then just duplicated it and modified it in a modular way — all that changed was the name of the dataset coming out and the query I used.

Discover the power of the Boomiverse: Join the Boomi Community today!

Boomiverse is the go-to location for our customers. It’s where they find answers to their questions, learn how to get the most from the Boomi Platform, and engage with peers to understand the best approaches to their integration challenges.

Throughout the year, we recognize the most active and helpful individuals in this group — our Community Champions. These leaders set the standard for how Community members can contribute and cultivate a rich conversation that helps everyone become better at integration.

If you enjoyed reading about Greg Kane's professional experience as an integration architect, see entire collection of Community Champion profiles.

About the Author

Charles Waltner is the head of content marketing for Boomi.

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