Just Keep an Open Mind: Q&A with Boomi Community Champion, Britto Parthalomew

December 20, 2018 Charles Waltner

The Boomi Community is the hub of our relationship with 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.

The foundation of the 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 members Community Champions. They’re remarkable in their commitment to making the Community the best possible resource for integration professionals.

Our latest Community Champion is Britto Parthalomew. He, like all Community Champions, is one of the most active participants in the Community. Contributors like Parthalomew make the Boomi Community a vital resource for integration developers and architects to get the most from our low-code, cloud-native platform.

How did you get started on your path to becoming an integration architect?

Britto Parthalomew: I attended St. Joseph’s College in Bangalore, earning a Bachelor of Computer Applications. A lot of companies came to St. Joseph’s to recruit. So I was very lucky to land a position with Mindtree right after graduation. At Mindtree, I started learning to code in .NET and did that for two years.

I must say, I never liked coding, but that was the job. After two years, there were some opportunities at Mindtree for me to work on enterprise application integration (EAI). My manager asked me if I was interested. I said, "Well, of course, I don't like coding, so if it’s going to be less coding, I'll be really happy."

A lot of the integration work was on-premise with Microsoft Exchange Server, where we used an enterprise service bus (ESB). It was interesting, and I worked in that area for nearly six years.

I still had to do some coding for custom pipelines, using .NET and Java. Then I had an opportunity to come to the United States to work with American Express Global Business Travel (GBT). That was in 2015, and it’s the client I’m still working with.

When did you start working with Boomi?

Britto Parthalomew: Before I came to the U.S., I started working for American Express GBT in India as part of an offshore team. The initial plan was to move data from its legacy systems to NetSuite. And, that’s where Boomi came into play.

But even before I was involved, a team from Deloitte was working on integrating Workday, Salesforce, Coupa and other cloud apps with NetSuite. I helped with some of the basic development and then Deloitte moved on.

But American Express GBT really needed a consultant who could continue the work, including the legacy systems integration and oversee maintenance, etc. And, to this day, I’m still the only one devoted to this project at the company.

"Once you understand the problem, you’ll know how to use what Boomi offers."

How long did it take you to reach proficiency with Boomi?

Britto Parthalomew: That’s quite an interesting question. As I mentioned, I had six years of EAI experience, which I could apply to the work I was doing with Boomi. I was able to use many of the EAI concepts. The language was different, but concepts were the same. With Boomi, we talk about messages. With the earlier EAI work, we called messages "documents." What Boomi calls connectors, we called "pipelines." The logic behind the data flows was the same. So, it was relatively easy for me to make that transition and develop proficiency.

What is the scope of your current integration work at American Express GBT?

Britto Parthalomew: Right now, I’m handling three major projects. And I couldn’t do it without Boomi. My colleagues constantly ask me, “How can you do this (integration) so fast.”

But building integrations fast in Boomi is easy. I can usually build an integration in an hour or two. And when I hand it off to teams on either side of the integration — push and pull — they complain they have too much work to do because I’m doing the integrations so fast. But I can do the integrations quickly because Boomi gives me all the information I need.

Please tell us a bit about your involvement in the Boomi Community?

Britto Parthalomew: I joined the Community in 2016, and my day is not complete if I don’t go to the Boomi Community and spend 30 minutes. I do that every day, 30 minutes minimum. Why? Because of the knowledge I get from the Community. It’s a knowledge repository. When I joined, there were not many participants, but even then it was very helpful.

I learned so much from browsing all the articles that are there. It might not the exact answer to my most pressing issue, but I can almost always get an idea — a starting point. I build on that. That’s how I've developed my expertise.

Then I started helping many of my peers. I would see a question and think, "Ah, this one I know because I’ve already done it.” And that’s how the community grows. I'm very happy about it.

But one thing I still see that I shouldn’t: people posting questions without looking for the answer first. No! Avoid that because so often the answer is available. The question has been answered. Please do your research Boomi Community members! Don’t expect someone else to do it for you.

"My day is not complete if I don’t go to the Boomi Community and spend 30 minutes."

You’ve obviously gotten a reputation as a trusted resource on the Community. What’s your advice to folks that are new to integration and Boomi?

Britto Parthalomew: I would tell them to look at Boomi as something that makes integration very simple. Just assume it is something that you will easily achieve. Don’t think of it as complex. Just go in with an open mind and see what you need. Everything is there in Boomi.

But Boomi doesn't replace the assessment process you need for understanding what and how you need to integrate. When you start developing, you need to understand the problem. Don’t just start mapping the flow. You must understand the problem first. It was the same when I used to do waterfall development.

Once you understand the problem, you’ll know how to use what Boomi offers. All the shapes have their functionality. Use them as they're supposed to be used.

I see a lot of people mixing shapes, so they must be very careful. If they use one in the wrong place, they’ll end up with issues and not know what caused them.

What do you consider some key best practices for building and managing integrations?
Britto Parthalomew: The moment I face an issue that I can’t solve, I start building a document. I put the issue in a document, so when I face the same issue later, I won’t have to search for information about it, even in the Community. And when I solve the issue, I post it and the solution in the Community.

Second, I maintain a folder hierarchy. One for each environment: test, development and production. For example, from the parent folder you can create a components subfolder, so you can easily find them. Put all your components in there. Don’t leave things here, there and everywhere. And create a parent folder for each project. It will save you so much time in the long run.

Third, I would say follow the OOPS concept — object-oriented programming. I always think of OOPS when I’m planning an integration.

But, I see some of my peers take other, less effective approaches. They have a requirement and they just build one process to stretch across the entire requirement. But come on! What if something fails? You will not know where it's failing.

Break down your integrations into components. Use all the shapes that are suitable. Boomi has a lot of available features. Use subprocesses. It makes it easier to debug and speeds things up. Don’t just build the same thing over and over.

"Whatever the case, integration is the glue. And it must accommodate legacy systems, which many companies for a variety of reason insist on maintaining. So, you can’t just buy a new tool and build a new system. That won’t work."


Even with proper preparation and information, integrations don’t always go as planned. Do you have any advice for when things get complicated?

Britto Parthalomew: I would say you will almost always face things you didn’t expect to happen. I recently had an instance with pipe delimited data formats.

The customer said there would be no pipe delimited data, but there was. And, you know, any character on the keyboard can be used as a pipe delimiter.

Once data started flowing, a lot of it was pipe delimited and the system was crashing. The customer said, “We cannot control our users. You fix it.” So, I didn’t expect that, but I should have. Because anything that can happen, will happen. You better be ready.

You've done a lot of integration work over the years. How do you see integration practices and technologies evolving?

Britto Parthalomew: Automation. Anything and everything. That’s where much of business is headed and with it data and application integration. It can be driven by organic growth, mergers and acquisitions or efforts to strengthen ties with partners and suppliers.

Whatever the case, integration is the glue. And it must accommodate legacy systems, which many companies for a variety of reason insist on maintaining. So, you can’t just a buy a new tool and build a new system. That won’t work.

Take the travel sector, where I work. There are many small suppliers. Many small companies. If you acquire them, how do you incorporate them, so they hold their value? — the reason you acquired them. It’s integration. And they — big businesses — want everything moved to the cloud.

So, Boomi has that and it offers the hybrid option as well. And, I think most businesses will prefer Boomi over any other option.

If you enjoyed reading about Britto Parthalomew's professional experience as an integration architect, please check out our other Community Champion profiles on Michael Morthala, Leif Jacobsen, Hari Bonala, Seth Duda, Sjaak Overgaauw, Siri Vangari and John Moore.

About the Author

Charles Waltner is the head of content marketing for Dell Boomi.

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