Cloud Elements, a “cloud API integration and aggregation service” for developers, aims to be an abstraction layer-like hub for developers wanting to build apps that integrate with popular Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
This week Cloud Elements released CRM and Marketing Hubs aimed at making it easy for developers to integrate their apps with multiple SaaS products at one time.
In the press release for their launch, Cloud Elements Chief Executive Officer Mark Geene said:
Developers are looking for an easier approach to API management, especially when it comes to getting their app to share customer data with CRM and Marketing Automation services. No longer is it enough to build single, one-off integrations. We are the first integration platform built to enable developers to write one integration to connect to many services. This unified platform manages, monitors, and maintains all API integrations.
The new products are aimed at helping app developers enter existing ecosystems like Salesforce and HubSpot by providing a uniform API that can interact with multiple SaaS products seamlessly. The goal is to reduce developer time creating API integrations for each product.
API aggregation services have been growing over the last few years, with products like Zapier and IFTTT providing ways for end customers to integrate their favorite apps into workflows or two-step processes: things like saving all contacts from Gmail to Salesforce without getting into the ickiness of dealing with API coding. Even developers themselves tend to use IFTTT to automate their own workflows — for example, adding Zendesk feature requests directly to Pivotal Tracker.
But so far, when used by developers, it is as consumers of the SaaS products. Cloud Elements is trying to move beyond that. They recognize the difficulties and time-consuming development costs for developers who are building new products who want to make their applications work seamlessly with existing SaaS products, initially in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Marketing Automation space. Instead of a developer needing to create integrations for each product, they can write to the one Cloud Elements Hub API, which can then connect to each CRM product to create the integration. It is a similar type of abstraction API service that products like Orchestrate.IO are building. In Orchestrate’s case, they allow any end user to connect multiple databases to the one API and then that one API can be used to integrate with whatever application is being created.
Cloud Elements wants to do that for marketing automation and CRM products. To help them demonstrate how difficult it is for developers to integrate their new products with each CRM product already existing, they have released “cheat sheets,” which demonstrate the hassles that developers would have building individual integrations. For example, the HubSpot API cheat sheet shows that some fields are all in lower case (e.g., “lastname”), while others are a mix of capital letters and lower case (e.g., “updatedAt”). For developers using APIs to integrate HubSpot and Salesforce, there are different query parameters needed to be used to search for the same contact details in each of those products. But by using the Cloud Elements CRM Hub API, developers can streamline their integration and quickly benefit from entering existing ecosystems.
Developers can trial the Cloud Elements Hub API products for free, but subscriptions commence at $500 per month once the uniform API is being used to integrate an application with existing SaaS products. With the reach of Salesforce and the rapid popularity of HubSpot’s CRM, using a uniform API could be a way for developers of new applications to quickly leverage the customer base of existing CRM and marketing automation ecosystems.