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AWS launches AppFabric to ease SaaS application connectivity

Bynewsmagzines

Jun 27, 2023
AWS launches AppFabric to ease SaaS application connectivity

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Amazon Web Services (AWS) has introduced AWS AppFabric, a no-code service that facilitates the integration of multiple software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. The unveiling took place during the AWS Applications Innovation Day event.

According to the company, IT and security teams can integrate third-party apps within their organization using AppFabric via a few clicks in the AWS console. The integration eliminates the need for customized point-to-point (P2P) integrations and provides a unified view of application usage and performance.

AWS said that AppFabric is designed to connect with 12 productivity applications and five security apps. Furthermore, it can be integrated with 17 SaaS applications through APIs. The company claims that with AppFabric, customers can reduce operational costs and improve their organization’s security posture by gaining visibility into application data.

“Customers asked us to abstract away this connectivity layer and just enable apps to work better together without having to do any integration work,” Dilip Kumar, vice president of applications at AWS, told VentureBeat. “Our differentiator through this offering is that apps not designed to work together will work better with AppFabric.”

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Kumar said the company aims to help customers leverage through AppFabric the network of over 100,000 AWS partners. By doing so, AWS aims to enable these partners to enhance and expand the experiences offered to their users and staff, encompassing all aspects of a company’s SaaS activities.

During the event, AWS also showcased a forthcoming generative AI feature for AppFabric, powered by Amazon Bedrock and anticipated to launch later this year. The AI feature empowers users to quickly acquire answers, automate tasks and generate insights across multiple SaaS applications.

The announcement comes after Microsoft’s recent unveiling of its own Fabric suite, an end-to-end platform for analytics and data workloads. The Fabric suite integrates products for all an organization’s data users, ranging from technical data processing by engineers to data analysis and decision-making by analysts.

Microsoft highlighted in its announcement the practice by Amazon and other cloud vendors of charging customers multiple times for various discrete analytics and data tools used on their clouds. Microsoft hailed its Fabric suite as an advancement that could enable it to surpass Amazon and other cloud providers, especially in serving large enterprises.

Enabling app connectivity through a unified layer 

According to AWS’s Kumar, modern workflows necessitate collaborative efforts across departments for productive teamwork. These workflows are characterized by cross-functionality and interconnectivity, often requiring users to switch between multiple SaaS applications to accomplish a single task. 

AWS’s study discovered that employees switch between apps up to 30 times daily, spending almost 12% of their time searching for content. This constant app-switching leads to distractions and hinders sustained focus. Kumar said that the company developed the no-code capability to address this interconnected nature of modern digital workflows.

AWS claims that the capability will serve as a bridge between data silos across SaaS applications, facilitating improved cross-functional work among employees. It aims to nurture a culture of collaboration and empower employees to perform their tasks more effectively.

“AppFabric is a fully managed service that quickly connects SaaS applications across your organization without the need for coding or development work,” said Kumar. “It eliminates the complexity of building and maintaining point-to-point SaaS application integrations and provides better visibility across application data.”

Kumar asserted that customers can now trust AWS as the optimal platform for running applications while improving security observability across an organization’s application tech stack.

“Enterprise IT leaders can respond to security threats faster and reduce operational costs by ingesting normalized data across SaaS applications into security tools like Splunk, RSA Netwitness, Logz.io, Rapid7, Netskope or other security tools of their choice,” he added. “Administrators will be able to set common policies, standardize security alerts and manage user access across multiple applications.”

Easing the integration burden on customers

AWS stated that historically, customers had shouldered the responsibility of app integration work. While specific use cases still exist where point-to-point integrations are crucial, such as data lake hydration, these integrations can be costly and time-consuming. 

They require specialized skills to investigate, build, secure and maintain each integration due to the variations in data models among different application APIs.

The company introduced the new service in response and claims it handles end-to-end integration across apps, including normalizing diverse data models, APIs, privacy and security.

At the event, the company announced a partnership between Zoom and AWS AppFabric to enable innovative AI experiences. Additionally, Bank Leumi, Israel’s largest bank, was highlighted as an organization utilizing AppFabric to enhance its security operations center.

“AWS AppFabric connects 12 SaaS applications — including some of the most widely used productivity applications by Asana, Atlassian Jira suite, Dropbox, Miro, Okta, Slack, Smartsheet, Webex by Cisco, Zendesk and Zoom — and manages them all in one location,” said Kumar. “AppFabric will also pull data from Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 to enhance the experience.”

Customers can select in the AWS Management Console the applications used by their organization and establish connections with AppFabric. AppFabric then automatically furnishes a standardized set of security and operational data for each app. 

“Transforming SaaS applications’ raw audit log data and then centralizing it into a logs stash comes with its share of challenges. But it is a foundational requirement before we start creating alerts and monitoring usage across multiple apps,” said Boris Surets, chief information security officer at Optibus, in a written statement. “AppFabric has doubled our visibility into SaaS activity overnight, with minimal effort and cost.”

In addition to that, the platform seamlessly integrates SaaS applications with various security tools.

“AppFabric aggregates and normalizes security data using the Open Cybersecurity Schema Framework (OCSF), an open community schema, making the data accessible by these tools,” Kumar told VentureBeat. “Utilizing this framework, IT and security professionals can analyze data more easily and set common policies, alerts, and a unified set of rules spanning multiple SaaS applications.” 

Using generative AI to deliver intricate insights

In addition to using AppFabric for the security use case, the platform offers generative AI capabilities powered by Amazon Bedrock to help customers complete tasks based on context from multiple applications. 

Kumar highlighted that AWS users often complained about the inconvenience of navigating multiple apps or resorting to copy-and-pasting from various data sources, leading to constant toggling between applications throughout their day.

To address this challenge, AppFabric’s generative AI capabilities span SaaS applications, reducing the need for users to continuously switch between applications when seeking information or completing tasks such as generating meeting notes, drafting update emails or creating project updates.

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AWS explained how AppFabric treats its models’ reasoning and understanding capabilities not as mere knowledge stores but as dynamic entities. The service enriches its generative AI model context by incorporating current data and knowledge, and with Bedrock, users can fine-tune these AI models. 

“As part of our architecture, we do three things: First, we ground and enrich prompts in customer data. Secondly, we are constantly evaluating and improving the prompts, and finally, we are actively working to adapt prompts to specific customer use cases,” Kumar said. 

He emphasized that the new AI feature assists users in completing tasks by delivering results in the preferred format of their chosen application.

“When you join a virtual meeting using Zoom, AppFabric will use the context of the transcription and provides relevant data such as most recent messages and emails for a given user and then uses APIs to recommend actions that the user can take across SaaS applications,” explained Kumar. “With the generative AI feature, we are shifting the paradigm on applying generative AI from knowledge retrieval to relying on their reasoning abilities and being action-oriented.”

AWS announced that AppFabric is now available for immediate use in U.S. East (N. Virginia), Europe (Ireland), and Asia Pacific (Tokyo) and will soon be available in more AWS regions.

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