The following is an interview with Varsha Neelesh, VP of Engineering here at Syncari. Varsha has led development of multiple novel technologies within Syncari, including its data unification capabilities and its embedded integration product, known as Syncari Embed.
Could you kick things off by telling us a bit about yourself and your journey in the engineering field that led you to Syncari?
Varsha: Yes, absolutely! I am one of the core founding team members and currently serve as the VP of Engineering at Syncari. My career journey has greatly influenced my success in building a remarkable product and a diverse team at Syncari. Over the past 17 years, I have encountered a wide range of data-related challenges, including managing first-party data through operational systems, synchronizing data between systems, and preparing and analyzing data. In the process I have successfully assembled diverse global teams who have collaborated with me in effectively tackling and overcoming these challenges.
During my tenure at Marketo, where I led the integration team, I gained a valuable insight: integrations are inherently fragile and require constant management. It takes a collective effort to ensure that all the moving pieces are seamlessly connected, including maintaining compatibility with ever-evolving APIs, handling various error states, and managing system downtimes. Having a dedicated team solely focused on integration, especially for a company whose core business is not integration itself, can be a costly endeavor.
When I first heard about Syncari’s vision from Nick and Neelesh, it sparked my excitement. The idea of a platform that could seamlessly solve these integration challenges and automate data processes resonated with me.
What continues to inspire your work as an engineer? Could you share some values and principles that guide your work?
Varsha: Customer-centricity is a fundamental value that I prioritize and instill in my team on a daily basis. As an engineer, it can be all too easy to become disconnected from the end-users and their real-world experiences. However, I strongly believe that every engineer should know the purpose behind the product they are building and gain a deep understanding of how it will be utilized by customers. This cultivates a sense of user empathy and naturally shapes the product to meet their needs effectively. Witnessing the transformative power of technology in solving real pain points is what motivates and drives me each day.
About Syncari Embed
As the head of engineering at Syncari, you’ve played a pivotal role in shaping our platform. Can you share what challenges in the SaaS market led to the creation of Syncari’s unique, white-labeled platform?
Varsha: Maintaining consistent and up-to-date data across multiple systems can be a complex and time-consuming process. The complexity intensifies with the growing number of systems involved. From supporting diverse authentication mechanisms to translating various data types, managing different schemas, and ensuring error detection and reaction capabilities, numerous challenges arise.
In my previous experience, I witnessed the substantial investment of both time and resources required to manage a point-to-point integration between just two systems, necessitating a dedicated team of 20 members. This approach not only incurred significant costs but also lacked scalability. As more systems were added, a new project had to be initiated to establish and maintain the connectivity, leading to high expenses and inefficiency.
Recognizing these drawbacks, Syncari was born to address this problem. We pioneered a patented no-code multi-directional sync engine that effortlessly resolves sync issues. With Syncari, users can focus on their core business value while the platform expertly handles data challenges, enabling a scalable and cost-effective solution.
Let’s delve into embedded integrations – a term we often hear. Could you clarify what they are, why they’re gaining popularity, and the value they bring to businesses from your perspective?
Varsha: The concept of embedded integrations is a relatively new development in the field of data automation. Traditionally, companies relied on integration providers to automate data flow between various systems utilized by different functions within the organization. This was primarily done to streamline internal processes and ensure smooth data synchronization.
However, with the growing prevalence of SaaS businesses, the need for integrating systems and syncing data between them has become pervasive. In response to this demand, integration providers have expanded their offerings to include embedded integrations for their customers. This shift eliminates the requirement for companies to maintain a dedicated technical team solely responsible for building and managing these integrations.
By providing embedded integrations, companies can now focus on their core value proposition and business objectives, rather than allocating resources to develop and maintain integration solutions. With an embedded offering, the integration provider assumes the responsibility of seamlessly connecting systems, automating data transfers, and ensuring data consistency.
This hands-off and automated approach allows companies to leverage the expertise and infrastructure of the integration provider, reducing the burden on internal resources and enabling a more streamlined and efficient operation. With embedded integrations, companies can concentrate on delivering value to their customers, while leaving the complexities of integration to the experts. This not only saves time and effort but also enables businesses to scale and adapt more effectively in the rapidly evolving SaaS landscape.
Syncari has a distinctive approach to embedded integrations. Could you explain how this approach processes for our clients and reduces the need for heavy engineering involvement?
Varsha: Syncari’s embedded offering provides a seamless integration solution for our customers to connect their products with Syncari using RESTful APIs. Through these APIs, customers can leverage all the powerful capabilities offered by Syncari, including synchronization, deduplication, data augmentation, data authority, and more.
One of Syncari’s standout features is its robust error handling capability. It is designed to identify and handle a wide range of errors, from temporary network glitches to critical irrecoverable errors. The algorithms are intelligently built to auto heal ensuring there is no data loss syncing between systems, even in the face of unexpected issues. These error handling capabilities are readily available to any system integrated with Syncari, right out of the box.
Connecting two systems together often involves addressing numerous details and nuances. For example, there is a need for seamless API integration, smooth data transformation between different schemas, efficient handling of various data types, and comprehensive error management. Syncari simplifies this complex process by eliminating the need for heavy investments in managing these integration challenges.
About Syncari’s Unique Platform
Our unified data model is a game-changer. Could you explain how it simplifies the process of establishing two-way sync between SaaS platforms and clients’ systems, particularly in custom or complex scenarios?
Varsha: In the realm of system integration, each system possesses its unique data model, which consists of objects, fields, and relationships between them. When integrating systems, one must grapple with the task of comprehending and mapping these data models, translating compatible data types, and accommodating customizations. This process can quickly become tedious and convoluted, especially when dealing with multiple systems.
To address these challenges, Syncari introduces a standardized unified data model that can streamline the mapping process and enable efficient data synchronization across diverse systems. This ultimately saves time, minimizes errors, and enhances the overall effectiveness of system integration initiatives. Here are some notable examples of how Syncari simplifies the integration process:
- Automatic Data Type Transformation: Syncari automatically converts data between different data types, ensuring compatibility and consistency across integrated systems. This eliminates the need for manual type mapping and streamlines the integration workflow.
- Comprehensive Relationship Handling: Syncari adeptly manages all types of relationships, including one-to-one and parent-child relationships. By intelligently understanding and synchronizing these relationships, Syncari ensures that data integrity is maintained throughout the integrated systems.
- Dynamic Schema Detection: Syncari has the capability to automatically detect newly added objects, fields, or modifications to existing ones within the integrated systems. This dynamic detection allows for swift adaptation to evolving data models and ensures that the integration remains up-to-date.
- Id Mapping and Foreign Key Resolution: Syncari manages the mapping of unique identifiers (IDs) and resolves foreign keys between all connected systems. This feature ensures that data references are correctly synchronized and maintained across the integrated systems, preventing inconsistencies or data loss.
Ensuring data quality while managing bi-directional synchronization can be tricky. How does Syncari’s platform tackle this challenge?
Varsha: Data quality encompasses various issues, including incomplete, inconsistent, outdated, incorrect, and improperly formatted data. When systems are connected through point-to-point solutions, data may appear to flow accurately between the two systems. However, when multiple point-to-point connections exist in isolation, they often operate as independent silos, leading to conflicts and further data quality problems.
Syncari addresses this challenge with its hub and spoke model. This model ensures that enriched and transformed data is consistently distributed to all connected systems, maintaining integrity and consistency. Unlike point-to-point connections, where each system has its own integration, Syncari acts as the central hub, facilitating data synchronization and distribution among the connected systems.
Furthermore, Syncari provides powerful data authority policies, enabling users to define rules for handling conflicts to maintain data consistency. This feature ensures that conflicting data is resolved based on predefined rules, such as prioritizing specific system data.
Our APIs are designed with flexibility in mind. Could you explain how they cater to various needs, including creating new instances, implementing data models, and executing pipelines?
Varsha: Syncari offers a comprehensive API library that grants access to all platform capabilities, aiming to automate the customer onboarding process and streamline the setup of end-to-end data pipelines. One of the key features of the API library is its provisioning APIs, which automate the onboarding process for customers by setting up the necessary Syncari infrastructure. This enables a smooth and efficient onboarding experience.
The Quickstart API further enhances the onboarding process by allowing the instance to be kickstarted with a template pipeline. This template pipeline serves as a starting point and can be easily customized using the Pipeline APIs according to specific requirements. This flexibility empowers users to tailor the data pipelines to their unique needs, ensuring optimal data management and integration.
Syncari also provides Schema APIs, which enable users to manage the Syncari schema. With these APIs, users have the ability to customize the data model within Syncari, aligning it with their specific use cases and preferences. This customization capability ensures that the data model is tailored to the organization’s requirements, facilitating seamless integration and data synchronization across systems.
The Future of Syncari Embed
As we look towards the future, how do you envision the evolution of embedded integrations and Syncari’s role in it?
Varsha: I firmly believe that Syncari is positioned to become the go-to control and data plane for SaaS companies seeking to harness the benefits of embedded integration. With Syncari, companies can now allocate their resources towards building their core offerings and expanding their business, while leaving the complexities of data automation in capable hands.
Finally, could you share what excites you most about our upcoming projects, especially those related to embedded integrations?
Varsha: Certainly! We have some exciting initiatives lined up for this year that I’m thrilled about. Firstly, we’re developing an API SDK, specifically a Python SDK, to streamline the usage of Syncari APIs. While retaining all the robust capabilities, this SDK provides a user-friendly interface with simple and intuitive Python functions. By leveraging these APIs, developers can easily transition from creating a synapse to building pipelines, configuring pipelines with rules and policies, and smoothly managing the pipeline lifecycle. This approach reduces the coding effort required for integrating Syncari into their ecosystem, making the process more efficient and developer-friendly.
Secondly, we have plans to build a partner management console. This console will serve as a centralized dashboard where partners can gain visibility into all their customer information. It will provide tools to manage provisioning, allowing partners to efficiently onboard and manage their customers within the Syncari ecosystem. This consolidated management console will streamline partner operations and simplify the overall management of their customer relationships.