Eduardo Fernández (@edufernandez) is the founder and CEO of ShuttleCloud, the most scalable email and contacts data import system. We recently asked Eduardo about some of the challenges facing his clients when it comes to email migration and to get his insight on how data integration is evolving. Here’s what he had to say:
What are the most common frustrations your clients have right now? How do you help them?
At ShuttleCloud, we focus our work mainly to help big email providers and ISPs. Their new customers typically switch from another email provider, and they have legacy email and contacts data to bring into the new platform. Our customers want to satisfy their users’ needs with the seamless migration workflow and the best user experience.
We offer them the most scalable email and contacts migration solution, supporting data from more than 247 email and address book providers including all major U.S. internet service providers and email providers in areas of low geographical penetration.
We allow two methods of integration: via ShuttleCloud APIs, that allows users to log in and import data from their previous webmail provider, all within the new provider interface; or through ShuttleCloud hosted migration portals, customized with the look and feel of our clients’ email services. Moreover, our services include the set-up of automatic email-forwarding, user notifications, and the best user experience with a dynamic guided walkthrough for users.
What’s your approach to Data Integration?
We support different types of data (emails, contacts, calendars, etc.) as well as 24/7 source email and/or contacts providers. As you may imagine, this means that all our services deal with lots of APIs, email standards (that are rarely followed), CardDav, and of course, traditional scraping methods.
This is already a fair amount of complexity; however, on top of that, each data type may have multiple different ways of storing the data, for instance, contacts can be stored in vCards, CSV files, JSON, etc.
What are some of the common problems or challenges surrounding Data Integration today?
The real challenge today is to make data integration available to all kinds of companies. Until recently, only really big companies could afford a data integration project. The investment was huge both in development time and infrastructure, and that didn’t even guarantee a successful project. The reason is that this type of work requires expertise that’s typically not available to companies unless they’re working on it full time.
Luckily, today there are a few companies offering data integration solutions as SaaS/iPaaS which makes the investment much more reasonable to more companies. There are also Open Source projects to help with that like MuleSoft. Still, there is a long way to go until it becomes a mainstream practice.
How is Data Integration evolving? What will it look like five or 10 years down the road?
It seems to me that nowadays the goal is not to integrate the data anymore, but to do it as fast as possible. We don’t want just insights, we want real time insights. It’s reasonable to think that in a fast-paced world, the ability to analyze your data immediately would become more and more important.
Who knows what awaits us 10 years down the road? If you ask me what I would like to see, is data integration that’s based on natural language analysis.
Just consider the amount of information available on the web today and think what it would be in 10 years. Leveraging all that information would be a dream for many companies.
What is ShuttleCloud doing to reimagine your services for the future?
ShuttleCloud specializes in importing email and contacts, so our first priority is to make this process as easy as possible for our clients.
Our API is simple and robust, but small companies with small or nonexistent IT departments might find it challenging to integrate with us, so we are working on an off-the-shelf solution for those companies.
We also have our “Labs experiments.”
We know there is a lot of interesting information buried in our emails and contacts, but we are very conscious about privacy, so we are looking at ways to understand the kind of relationship existing between two people based solely on the frequency, hours, days, etc. of their interactions. Why? To make managing your contacts a simple task: offer better suggestions and automatically organize your contacts into meaningful groups.
What data tools, trends or innovations are you most excited about right now? Why do they interest you?
I think Business intelligence visualization tools such as Tableau, Qlik or Microsoft Power BI are a great step forward to bring big data analysis to the general population.
Until now anyone who wanted to start working with massive amounts of data needed to have a fair amount of technical knowledge. Obviously, that was a blocking point for many people. These tools have their obvious limitations, but they are helping a lot of people approaching this field and that’s empowering companies to leverage their data.
On the other hand, I’m truly fascinated about machine learning techniques. We are literally teaching machines to predict the future based on the past!
What steps do you take to ensure the security and privacy of your customer’s data?
It’s something that we take very seriously. Firstly, to ensure the Confidentiality and Integrity of the API requests, we rely on HTTPS (SSL), ignoring any requests that use plain HTTP.
When our customers request the authentication against the ShuttleCloud API, they will need to authenticate those calls using a DSA signature scheme.
On the other hand, ShuttleCloud stores all credentials encrypted (2048 bit RSA key) in an internal service, maintaining credentials and tokens store separately. No single machine in the ShuttleCloud system can both read and write from and to the this internal service.
Regarding data retention policy, we securely store the data required to process the import, and we delete everything when the import is over. User data migrated from origin to destination resides only in memory during the migration. We don’t send user data through the wire to other machines or components which guarantee privacy and safety.
We also warrants that in the event that it retains logs or information, the information retained will be anonymized.
What’s one piece of advice you find yourself repeating to clients over and over?
Users only stay with you as long as all their important information is within your service. Help them bring their data onto your platform during onboarding, and they will remain with you.
As explained in the white paper, “Syncsort DMX-h: Modern Data Integration for Your Modern Data Architecture,” Syncsort designed DMX-h to help organizations build a core Big Data platform in a shorter span of time and with data analytics visualization tools like Tableau and Qlik to support the data integration needs discussed in this expert interview. The paper documents how DMX-h simplifies the creation and management of end-to-end data integration and transformation processing to shorten time to value, while allowing organizations to leverage their existing data integration skill sets.