Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

AWS AppFlow automates bidirectional data flows

Steve Rogerson
April 28, 2020

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced AppFlow, a fully managed service that provides an easy, secure way to create and automate bidirectional data flows between AWS and SaaS applications without writing custom integration code.
AppFlow also works with AWS PrivateLink to route data flows through the AWS network instead of over the public internet to provide stronger data privacy and security. There are no upfront charges or fees to use AppFlow, and users only pay for the number of flows they run and the volume of data processed.
Millions of users run applications, data lakes, large-scale analytics, machine learning and IoT workloads on AWS. These users often also have data stored in dozens of SaaS applications, resulting in silos that are disconnected from data stored in AWS.
Organisations want to combine their data from all these sources, but that requires users to spend days writing code to build custom connectors and data transformations to convert disparate data types and formats across different SaaS applications. Those with multiple SaaS applications end up with a sprawl of connectors and complex code that is time consuming and expensive to maintain. Further, custom connectors are often difficult to scale for large volumes of data or near real-time transfer, causing delays between when data are available in SaaS and when other systems access the data.
In large enterprises, business users wait months for skilled developers to build custom connectors. In firms with limited in-house developer skills, users resort to uploading and downloading data manually between systems, which is tedious, error-prone and risks data leakage.
AppFlow solves these problems and allows users with diverse technical skills, including CRM administrators and BI specialists, to configure private, bidirectional data flows between AWS services and SaaS applications without writing code or performing data transformation.
They can get started using AppFlow’s simple interface to build and execute data flows between sources in minutes, and AppFlow securely orchestrates and executes the data transfer. With just a few clicks in the AppFlow console, users can configure multiple types of triggers for their data flows, including one-time on-demand transfers, routine data syncs scheduled at pre-determined times, or event-driven transfers when launching a campaign, such as converting a lead, closing an opportunity or opening a case.
For example, users can backup millions of contacts and support cases from Salesforce to Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), add sales opportunities from Salesforce to forecasts in Amazon Redshift, and transfer marketing leads from Amazon S3 to Salesforce after using Amazon SageMaker to add lead scores. They can also pull logs and metric data from monitoring tools such as Datadog or Dynatrace for deep analytics in Amazon Redshift, or send customer engagement data from Slack, Marketo, Zendesk, Amplitude or Singular to Amazon S3 for sentiment analysis.
“AppFlow helps our customers eliminate complex information silos by combining data from Slack and other SaaS tools with AWS services,” said Brad Armstrong, vice president at Slack. “Whether analysing trends in customer engagement from helpdesk requests or measuring sentiment data, organisations of all sizes can spend more time on the critical work that moves their businesses forward.”
Salesforce is a cloud-based software company that provides customer-relationship management service and also sells a complementary suite of enterprise applications focused on customer service, marketing automation, analytics and application development.
“With AppFlow integrating directly with Salesforce Private Connect, joint customers will be able to establish a secure, private connection for passing data back and forth between the Salesforce and AWS platforms,” said Sarah Franklin, executive vice president at Salesforce. “And because these connections can be set up by Salesforce admins in just a few clicks, companies can cut down on costly and timely engineering resources, and begin doing more with their data faster than ever before.”
Users can transform and process the data by combining fields to calculate new values, filtering records to reduce noise, masking sensitive data to ensure privacy, and validating field values to cleanse the data. AppFlow automatically encrypts data at rest and in motion using AWS or user-managed encryption keys, and enables users to restrict data from flowing over the public internet for applications that are integrated with AWS PrivateLink, reducing exposure to security threats.
"Our customers tell us that they love having the ability to store, process and analyse their data in AWS,” said Kurt Kufeld, vice president at AWS. “They also use a variety of third-party SaaS applications, and they tell us that it can be difficult to manage the flow of data between AWS and these applications. AppFlow provides an intuitive and easy way for customers to combine data from AWS and SaaS applications without moving it across the public internet. With AppFlow, our customers bring together and manage petabytes, even exabytes, of data spread across all of their applications, all without having to develop custom connectors or manage underlying API and network connectivity.”
AppFlow is available today in northern Virginia, Ohio, northern California, Oregon, central Canada, Singapore, Toyko, Sydney, Seoul, Mumbai, Paris, Ireland, Frankfurt, London and São Paulo, with more regions to come.