Thursday, April 3, 2014

Non-techie? These cloud tools are for you!


 
This work by Marcelo Bernardes (@marcelobern) was originally posted on LinkedIn.

While people working in the cloud computing arena understand the meaning and implication of iPaaS (infrastructure platform as a service), the vast majority of regular folks are yet to understand the power unleashed by the ability to connect cloud services.

Today, rather than going into technical details, let me give some real life examples of how you can use cloud integration to improve your life!

Cloud Integration in Action

Some of the well-known players in the cloud integration space are Zapier and IFTTT. Rather than tell you how they work, let me share some examples of how I am using them to save me time and money.

Some months ago, I forgot to leave a faucet dripping during a frigid winter night. The next morning, I had to spend a couple hundred dollars to take care of the frozen pipes. To avoid this from happening again, I used decided to “ask” IFTTT to send me an SMS when The Weather Channel indicated the outside temperature would fall below 20 degrees Fahrenheit (about -7 degrees Celsius).

Here is another example. I was always struggling to keep my Google Contacts updated. I wanted to automatically update my Google Contacts when my LinkedIn connections changed jobs. So, I used Zapier to help me accomplish just that.

Getting Started

So, how do you decide which provider to use? Let me share a step-by-step approach, which should help guide your decision process:
  • Supported cloud services: different providers may support integration to different cloud services. Make sure the selected provider supports the specific cloud services you are interested in. For example, Zapier features a long list of enterprise services, while IFTTT features some home automation services. Zapier refers to each integration as an “App”, and you can find the list of supported Zapier Apps here. IFTTT refers to each integration as an “Channel”, and you can find the list of supported IFTTT Channels here.
  • No need to reinvent the wheel: in order to promote reuse and adoption, providers encourage users to share how they are using services. IFTTT refers to these as “Recipes”, and here is a list of shared IFTTT Recipes. Zapier refers to these as “Zaps” and here is a list of shared Zaps.
  • How much will it cost?: IFTTT is still in beta and is free for now. Zapier can get expensive pretty quick but I have been able to get a lot of value from their free introductory package.
Update: since I first posted this article, I came across a noteworthy UK based provider: Bondable. While they seem to have a rounded offer, I have not had the chance to fully test their free package. Be aware, Bondable prices are way more expensive than Zapier as Bondage seems to be positioning itself for the enterprise market.

Do you know any additional providers worth mentioning? Would you like to share how your cloud integration has helped you? Please feel free to use the comment box below to share your thoughts.

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(Image courtesy of photostock -FreeDigitalPhotos.net; Post updated Apr/30/2014)