PilotFish: A Unique Approach to Data Integration

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Neil Schappert, CEO
These are exciting times for CIOs. With the rapid acceptance and migration of applications to “the cloud” comes an increasing stream of new challenges and opportunities.

Every day new specialized cloud applications are being introduced every day, that are replacing the functions and components previously supported by on-premises applications. Sometimes, the adoption and use of the cloud applications are part of a well-thought-out migration plan, while at other times they are tactical solutions to end-users’ frustration with what they perceive to be an unresponsive IT organization. Regardless of the motivation, there can be no doubt that the migration of applications to the cloud will continue. However, it will be a long time, if ever, that the on-premises systems, both legacy and modern, will be replaced in their entirety.

This migration is occurring at a time when there is an increased focus on integration of business applications to enable seamless, intuitive, non-redundant business processes. In addition to the realization of operational efficiencies, there are improvements in the managerial to be achieved by leveraging data analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

What’s the problem? The problem is that with the proliferation of specialized cloud applications and the acceptance that the on-premises systems will never go away entirely, CIOs are faced with a nearly infinite mix of operating systems, communications protocols, security programs, databases, and data formats, with which they will have to contend if they want to successfully integrate their systems, digitize processes, and maximize the value of analytics and AI. And as the migration to the cloud progresses, the mix will constantly be changing.

Fortunately, PilotFish is well-positioned to provide help and enable technology needed to mitigate the problems and unlock the benefits of this migration to the cloud. While most industries are playing the catching up game, PilotFish is ahead of the curve by providing impeccable integration capabilities that are inherent to its product suite’s design. In a nutshell, the PilotFish suite of integration products enables the integration of anything with anything– anywhere. “Anything” means any application, system, equipment or device. “Anywhere” can include in-house, the cloud, external organizations, information exchanges, or even private homes.

The three core components that PilotFish offers to enable integration are the eiConsole, eiPlatform, and eiDashboard. The eiConsole is a graphical IDE for the codeless configuration, testing, deployment, and maintenance of integration processes. Integrations configured in the eiConsole are deployed to the eiPlatform where they run in a secure, unattended, and high-performance mode. The eiDashboard provides real-time monitoring, operational support, and access to data traversing the eiPlatform at a granular level for reporting and analytics. PilotFish is the architect and developer of all three components, which incorporates best practices learned from almost 20 years of being in the business of providing integration services.

The eiConsole provides a graphical point-click-drag-and-drop approach to configure integrations using an assembly line metaphor. There are multiple stages for each integration that allow the user to define the source of the data, connectivity to the source, data transformation from the format of the source to a common XML format, routing, connectivity and delivery of the data in a format consumable by the target system. All incoming data is automatically transformed into an XML representation so that a single open-source W3C language, XSLT, can be used to transform the data. A unique 3-pane graphical Data Mapper generates the XSLT to effect the data transformation. Each stage has a drop-down list of configurable options, enabling integration of any system with any other system, regardless of operating systems, communications protocols, security programs, databases, and data formats. The configured integrations are tested stage-by-stage and end-to-end before being copied or “dragged” onto the eiPlatform for production operation. Integrations that previously might have taken weeks or months to develop, test and deploy using other available approaches can now be accomplished in hours or days.

Recently, a major North American insurance carrier successfully completed a strategic initiative to migrate their core insurance policy administration to the cloud.


The PilotFish suite of integration products enables the integration of anything to anything – anywhere



Several cloud components handled application entry, new business underwriting and in-force administration, each supplied by different vendors and hosted on different “clouds”. Additionally, many of the peripheral downstream systems remained in-house and were a mix of technology stacks. This presented quite the integration challenge.

In an effort to simplify integration, many of the cloud providers have published Application Program Interfaces (APIs) and set up sandboxes to test integration scenarios. In this case, APIs solved part of the integration challenges, but not all. The data formats from each of the systems involved used very different data formats and connectivity protocols, regardless of their vintage or technology stack. The solution for this insurance carrier was to implement the ACORD Standard schema as a common model. Using the eiConsole Data Mapper, all data formats were transformed to and from the ACORD Standard representation, dramatically reducing the number of point-to-point interfaces. For connectivity to the cloud applications, the insurance company used the API XL Listener/Transport included with the eiConsole to handle microservices and the more conversational nature of APIs. To connect to the in-house systems, several different Listeners and Transports, also included with the eiConsole, were used to support the various connection types required including queues, TCP/IP, JSON and HTTPS. In all, there are more than 25 configurable Listeners and Transports included in the PilotFish product suite with the ability to easily add more, if needed.

Now that the migration to the cloud is complete and operational efficiency has been achieved, the insurance carrier is ready to take the next step—generating analytics and feeding AI with all of the newly available information captured in real-time at a granular level.

As the demand for data integration is exploding, there are quite a few competitors in this space. Some of them are multi-billion dollar players that have been around for a long time, while others are new entries that are more vision than reality. Everyone in the space claims that their solutions are better, easier to use and faster than conventional integration tools. The PilotFish approach is to actually prove their products are the best, easiest and fastest. They do this by offering a free full-function 90-day trial download of their eiConsole IDE with tutorials that enable evaluators to configure and test their own integrations end-to-end. Usually that experience alone is enough to convince the evaluators that PilotFish has the best offering. If not, PilotFish recommends the evaluators conduct a “bake-off”. This is where the evaluator chooses one or more of their most difficult integrations and asks each of the short-listed solution providers to implement them so they can do a side-by-side comparison. “We have never lost a bake-off!” extols Neil Schappert, CEO at PilotFish.

Another key competitive advantage is that their software actually works as advertised. Whereas other products often fall short of expectations, their customers have an unparalleled track record of success both with the initial implementation and ongoing use.

The widespread acceptance of the PilotFish products and services has resulted in significant growth. Last year their top line revenues increased by 25% and this year it is forecast to increase by 40%. This has happened while maintaining a healthy bottom line. Recently, PilotFish has introduced On- Demand pricing option based on the suggestion of one of its value added resellers (VARs). It allows customers, whether operating in the cloud or on-premises to use the PilotFish software and pay license fees in time increments of as little as a minute. Besides, It also enables VARs to bundle the PilotFish software with their solutions and deliver them to the end-users. PilotFish continually reinvests in their products to develop innovative new features and capabilities based on feedback from their customers and their own first-hand experience performing integration services.

Company
PilotFish

Headquarters
Middletown, CT

Management
Neil Schappert, CEO

Description
PilotFish delivers integration solutions to integrate an organization’s systems, digitize processes, and maximize the value of their analytics programs. The company’s suite of integration products enables the integration of any application, system, equipment or device to cloud, on-premise, or any other environment. To deliver end-to-end integration the company offers three core components, which are eiConsole, eiPlatform, and eiDashboard. Recently, PilotFish has also introduced On-Demand pricing option based on the suggestion of one of its value added resellers (VARs). It allows customers, whether operating in the cloud or on-premises to use the PilotFish software and pay license fees in time increments of as little as a minute

PilotFish