GUIDES

Top Prismatic Alternatives - Embedded iPaaS Comparison

Scale your integration roadmap with the best embedded iPaaS solution.
Brian Yam
,
Head of Marketing
September 3, 2021
,
15
minutes to read
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Prismatic is an embedded integration platform aimed at software companies primarily in niche verticals such as agricultural tech. Prismatic’s core value proposition is allowing you to add an integration marketplace to your app and build integrations to third-party software used by your customers. 

If you’re looking to scale your integration roadmap, this article will help you evaluate four of the top Prismatic alternatives, so you can pick the best solution for scaling your integration roadmap.

Let’s get right into it. 

TL;DR

  • Prismatic is an Embedded Integration-Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) that comes with a low-code integration designer, an embedded integration marketplace, built-in logging and authentication management.
  • Its main value props are the ability to create custom components and its embeddable integration marketplace that helps companies without any pre-existing integrations get up and running
  • The biggest challenges with Prismatic are its limited ability to support fast growing companies, including: non-whitelabeled experience if you don’t want to use their embedded integrations page, an inability to handle large volumes of executions, and their unscalable pricing
  • The first and best Prismatic alternative is Paragon, which provides the most seamless developer experience, a custom integration builder that enables any integration to be built on the platform, developer-led customer support, and a self-hosted deployment option
  • Other Prismatic alternatives include Cyclr, Tray Embedded and Pandium.
  • Cyclr is the cheapest option, but lacks extensibility and provides the worst user experience amongst all the options.
  • Tray Embedded provides the most connectors but isn’t whitelabeled, and is held back by their core, internal automation product, which surfaces through a subpar developer experience and the need to use workarounds to achieve the embedded use case.
  • Pandium is stuck somewhere between a partnerships platform and an integrations platform, so it doesn’t really provide a clear value proposition to customers.

What is Prismatic?

Prismatic is an embedded iPaaS that aims to make building and scaling B2B SaaS integrations as quick and painless as possible. Key features include:

  • Low-code integration designer, marketed as something that allows non-technical employees to create integrations
  • Embedded integration marketplace, allowing you to display all the integrations built on their platform on an embedded page
  • Authentication and credential management
  • Built-in logging to assist with diagnosing and solving bugs or support issues

Prismatic is one of the smaller iPaaS platforms, with just 21 employees. The company was bootstrapped by the founders for two years, before raising a seed round of $3.3M in 2021. Key customers comprise of non-typical B2B SaaS companies, such as Raven Industries and ShotSpotter.

Prismatic’s strengths and weaknesses

Before we explore some alternatives to Prismatic, let’s first examine its strengths and weaknesses compared to the other iPaaS products on the market.

Strengths

Unlike competitors such as Tray Embedded, Prismatic was built specifically for the embedded use case. This means that it does not come with some of the tech debt and end-user experience downfalls that ‘wrapped’ traditional iPaaS solutions would have (we’ll elaborate on this further down). And it also means that the company’s devs aren’t splitting their attention across multiple business models simultaneously. 

Prismatic comes with three features that are developer-friendly:

  • Developers can create custom components, which enable them to to integrate with any 3rd party http service.
  • It’s possible to set up a unique instance of an integration for a specific end user by setting config variables and connections to third-party apps that are relevant for that customer.
  • Prismatic provides logging tools, which covers the integrations built on their platform. These logs can be streamed to an external logging system.

Weaknesses

Subpar end-user experience

When it comes to actually configuring an integration, Prismatic’s UI is confusing to say the least. There are two options when it comes to having your customers enable their integrations:

  1. You’re forced to use their embedded integration marketplace, which is a full page that comes pre-built with their UI. Unfortunately, unless you don’t have any integrations to begin with, you’ll have to separately manage any other integrations in a different part of your application.
  2. You need to provide your customers a self-serve Prismatic account, which means they have to log in to Prismatic to configure the integration, which is a terrible experience. Here’s a snippet from their documentation

Additionally, when it comes to end-user configuration, it would require your end-users to enter the endpoints for which they want to sync data between within the Prismatic dashboard, which can quickly become confusing and can lead to a lot of end-user error.

Subpar developer experience

While all the embedded iPaaS solutions in this list provide a visual workflow builder, the developer experience that they provide vary greatly.

Prismatic’s workflow builder is not the worst, but it leaves a lot to be desired.

Despite offering ‘pre-built actions’ with their connectors, there is no enforcement of values nor the ability to easily map data to various fields in the 3rd party app, which will often lead to errors in integration logic.

In this example, Prismatic’s pre-built Salesforce connector offers the action of ‘Create Record’, but no record types are provided (free text input), and there is no way to reference the fields that are contained within the specified record type.

This means that your engineers would still have to go through the Salesforce API docs and understand exactly what object types are available as well as the fields and field types that exist. This essentially defeats the purpose of having API abstractions/pre-built actions.

Additionally, one of the most important features when it comes to implementing workflow logic through a visual workflow builder is the ability to reference data outputs from previous steps.

Whether it’s data from an event payload from your app, or data from a 3rd party webhook, the ability to map that specific snippets of data to fields in subsequent steps is fundamental to saving your engineers time.

This is not possible with Prismatic without a workaround.

Here is another snippet from their docs.

Not only is this a terrible developer experience, this workaround highlights a key scalability issue with their platform and infrastructure.

Lack of Platform Scalability

This snippet in their documentation demonstrates that they do not have an efficient method of storing only the relevant fields that need to be called in subsequent steps in a workflow.

Instead, they are forced store entire outputs of every step within an integration - if you were to build any integration that has slightly complex logic, you will experience delayed executions that will time out, leading to data loss for your customers.

Why do we know this so well? Our engineering team faced this exact problem in the early days of building Paragon years ago, and it took months of refactoring our infrastructure back then to address.

Security

If you’re an enterprise, it’s probably important for you to ensure that your customer data is secure; you don’t put it into the hands of a third party blindly. Unfortunately, Prismatic doesn’t offer on-premise/self-hosted deployment, which means that if anything happens to Prismatic’s servers, your customers' data could be breached. 

Cheap until you grow

Finally, Prismatic’s pricing scales just as poorly as its infrastructure does.

While their pricing may be cheaper than some alternatives, it does not scale well if you're going to be growing the number of customers using your platform, as they charge a per user fee.

Prismatic Alternative #1 - Paragon

Paragon is the leading embedded iPaaS on the market today when it comes to the best developer and end-user (your customers) experience, allowing you to go to market with new integrations in days.

Full disclosure: While Paragon is our own product, we aim to provide an unbiased perspective on why Paragon is the truly the top Prismatic alternative on the market. 

Superior end-user experience

When it comes to building native integrations, providing your customers a seamless configuration and integration experience is crucial. When you ship integrations with Paragon, your customers won’t have any idea that you are using a 3rd party integration platform. The customer experience will feel completely native to your app.

Instead of forcing you to embed an entire pre-built integration marketplace (Prismatic’s approach), which is limiting as shared above, we focus on providing an easily embeddable JS modal that is integration specific.

If you are building out your first few integrations on Paragon and need to go to market quickly, the Connect Portal provides a fully whitelabeled and extremely intuitive configuration experience.

And all it takes is a single call:

paragon.connect(‘salesforce’);

To take it a step further however, Paragon also provides a headless implementation - this means any integration built on Paragon can leverage your own custom UI, making it fit seamlessly with any pre-built integrations you might already have.

Intuitive workflow builder

Unlike Prismatic, Paragon’s workflow builder has been designed thoughtfully to be both highly extensible for developers and extremely easy to use.

With the pre-built integrations that Paragon provides, all object types and standard fields for different object types (including custom objects) are pulled into the workflow UI for easy and error-free mapping. This is a significantly better experience than Prismatic’s ‘free for all’ input without any rules that is extremely prone to errors.

Additionally, mapping data between steps in a workflow is extremely easy - simply reference previous steps and the data required from those outputs in the appropriate fields, instead of having to write out extra requests alongside every single step which Prismatic’s workflow builder requires.

Extensibility

Beyond the UI, it’s important that you and/or your developers get the level of flexibility that they would otherwise have if they built in house.

With Paragon, even within the workflow builder, you will still be able to make requests to any 3rd party API endpoint. Therefore, if you are building out a more unique use case, you will not be limited by the pre-defined actions that Paragon provides out of the box.

Additionally, Paragon provides a suite of components that enable you to easily implement any integration logic that you need to define, including custom functions that provide access to any JavaScript functions and npm packages.

On-premise option

If you’re looking for an embedded iPaaS that will let you deploy on your own premises, you can end your search here. Paragon is literally the only embedded iPaaS on the market that comes with on-prem deployment

With all the other solutions in this article, including Prismatic, you’re limited to hosted cloud deployments - meaning all your customers’ data will be hosted on their servers. The data risk associated with that might not matter to you if you’re a small startup that’s just getting off the ground. But trust us: once you’ve scaled to the point that you’re a large enterprise with hundreds of customers, we’re prepared to bet that data security will be pretty important to you.

Best-in-class support

Lots of SaaS companies will say that their support is better than that of the competition – but then lack the evidence to prove it.

So here are Paragon’s G2 ratings (note that Paragon leads the category across all 3 metrics).

Paragon provides first class developer support for all customers, with SLAs on response times and a dedicated Slack channel for most plans.

“We even made feature requests. They were very quick to respond with timelines to get those features into the product, and they hit those timelines. That communication and followthrough gave us confidence right away.” - Adam Janower, Sr. Software Engineer from Trustpage

To see what other customers have to say, click here.

Custom integration builder

After the series A in 2022, Paragon has ramped up development of its pre-built integration catalog, which will have over 100 pre-built connectors by the end of 2022. The integrations that are being added are driven largely by customer demand, so even if there is an integration you don’t see on the list, it can be built on SLA if you talk to the team.

However, the SaaS ecosystem is growing exponentially, with thousands of new SaaS applications coming onto the market every year. Accommodating every single application is the end goal, but is unfeasible for any company.

That’s where Paragon’s Custom Integration Builder really shines. 

In as little as 20 minutes, your team will be able to build an integration with any 3rd party application with an API, and still leverage all of Paragon’s workflow, end-user configuration, and authentication benefits.

This ensures that Paragon is future-proof and can support every integration that you’ll ever need to build.

Scalable Pricing

Paragon’s custom pricing is based on a tiered system that doesn’t screw you over as you grow.

Beyond the Basic plan, you will not be paying more for the number of new customers you acquire - only the number of integrations you want to build and bulk usage volume.

While Prismatic’s introductory price may be cheaper, scaling by instance (aka for every customer you have) is horrible for your budget. Remember what we said earlier about their model charging $225k for 1000 customers? You don’t want to be locked in early on at a ‘cheap’ price only to be stuck with steep annual increases as your company grows, in which case you may have to rip those integrations out and start over in house or with another solution like Paragon.

Conclusion: Prismatic vs. Paragon

Across the developer experience, platform extensibility, the end-user experience that you would provide customers, and pricing and security considerations, Paragon is the better choice.

However, if an embedded integration marketplace UI and custom components are key requirements for you, and pricing scalability is not a concern, then you should evaluate both Prismatic and Paragon to evaluate which solution and team suits your needs better.

While Prismatic and Paragon are the 2 best solutions in the embedded iPaaS market, there are a few additional Prismatic alternatives that you should be aware of, but probably not consider.

Prismatic Alternative #2 - Cyclr

UK based Cyclr was the first company to tackle the challenge of building an embedded integration platform, but provides one of the poorer experiences of all the Prismatic alternatives. 

Connectors

Let’s start with their one strength, which is their number of pre-built connectors. Cyclr comes with around 400 pre-built connectors to other popular third-party apps, so there’s a good chance that some of these will be relevant to your customers’ use cases. 

However, pre-built connectors are only as useful as the rest of the platform, which is where challenges start to come in.

Lack of extensibility

Unfortunately Cyclr’s connectors restrict users to the built-in workflow actions for each connector. This could be passable if your integrations are extremely simple and basic, but as soon as you want to build any complex logic or a deeper integration, you’ll hit a wall. The true value of an integration platform lies in finding the balance between abstracting away complexities while providing extensibility, which Cyclr has missed the mark on.

As you can see here, users are forced to pick from their pre-defined actions on the right, with no method of calling the 3rd party API directly.

No managed authentication

One of the most challenging and time consuming parts of developing integrations is handling user authentication. Your customers credentials need to be stored securely, and you need to build a system for managing users' access and refresh tokens for every integration to ensure the integration stays up and running behind the scenes.

Unfortunately, unlike Paragon and Prismatic, Cyclr requires you to own and maintain that piece of the integration development lifecycle, as you can see from their documentation.

Lack of whitelabeling

Cyclr redirects your users to a Cyclr hosted URL for your customers to configure and authenticate their integrations.

This creates a terribly disjointed experience, and makes it apparent that there is a third party involved in handling their data.

Pricing

Cyclr’s basic plan is $999 per month, which is about twice as expensive as Prismatic’s equivalent plan. This plan entitles you to three connectors.

But there’s a problem. You’ll need one of those three connectors for your own app (since they don't use app events to trigger workflows), and are responsible for maintaining it if your API changes! So really, you only get two connectors, which means that Cyclr’s value for money isn’t as good as other embedded iPaaS platforms like Prismatic and Paragon.

There’s a possibility that Cyclr has some value for small startups that only need a handful of integrations and don't plan on scaling their user base. But if you’re building your business to scale, the business case simply doesn't makes any sense, given how poorly Cyclr supports custom integration builds. 

Prismatic Alternative #3 - Tray.io Embedded

Tray’s main platform leverages robotic process automation (RPA) to speed up the creation of integrations. About a year ago, Tray released Tray Embedded, which is their attempt to enter into the embedded iPaaS market.

For some background - Tray’s release of Tray Embedded was an idea that came out of their sales organization - and while they successfully acquired a lot of customers with their 100+ team of sales reps, the product did not deliver as promised and they have been struggling with churn every since. Unfortunately, their core product takes precedence over their embedded product when it comes to feature development and customer support.

Now, let’s objectively see how Tray Embedded compares with Prismatic and the other embedded iPaaS solutions on this list, as on the surface, they do have some advantages over Prismatic.

Advantages

Connector library

Tray is able to leverage the connectors from their main, internal automation platform, which provides more than 600 pre-built connectors. This is the most extensive library on the list, but

No-code UI

Unlike Prismatic, Tray’s no-code workflow builder is reasonably intuitive to use, as it was designed for marketing and sales operations teams. This makes it fairly straightforward to implement the logic for each of your integrations, such as easy to use field mapping, however the advantages end as soon as you need to build anything more complex.

However, even in their embedded documentation, they only show examples of workflow automation use cases (connecting 2 internal applications).

Neutral

Custom connector services

If you want to build an integration with an application that is not on Tray’s catalog, you can request the addition for $3000 and Tray will create it for you.

However, our source at Typeform (who is moving off of Tray) have shared that these requests are often backlogged and can take months to deliver on.

And unlike Paragon, they do not provide an intuitive Custom Integration Builder that would enable you to easily build custom integrations on their platform.

Disadvantages

Disjointed end-user experience

Tray is able to handle authentication, but the user experience feels disjointed and not white-labeled nor native. Your user will be taken to a Tray hosted domain, which destroys the illusion that the integrations built on Tray are a native part of your app.

Additionally, Tray then creates a Tray user account for each of your customers, as you can see here.

Authentication workarounds

Unlike on Paragon, Tray’s authentication process isn’t fully managed. You’ll need to leverage workarounds to manually link each of your users to a unique Tray account that is programmatically created.

While this is still certainly better than Cyclr's complete inability to manage authentication, it's not an ideal setup - this is again, due to their embedded product being handcuffed to their core workflow automation product.

Steep scaling costs

From interviews with Tray's customers (both current and churned), Tray is more expensive than Prismatic, due to the way that it scales as your customer base grows (although the model behaves similarly to Prismatic's structure).

Specifically, while it's standard that you have to pay a per-integration fee, where the costs become outrageous is their per-user fee. Meaning you have to pay for every one of your customers that install an integration. As your company grows its customer-base, this will become a huge challenge.

Given that Tray Embedded is a sales driven product, they have been known to lock people in on a discount in year one, and forcibly increase prices significantly during renewal, making it unfeasible for many companies to remain on using their platform.

Not designed for developers

While one of their advantages is their no-code workflow builder, the flip side of that coin is a clunky and limiting developer experience. By nature of the embedded product being a ‘repackaged’ version of their core product, a lot of seemingly straightforward functionality would require your developers to build workarounds to achieve.

Prismatic and Paragon both provide a far superior experience on this front, as both were designed for the embedded use case.

No on-premise deployment

Like Prismatic, Tray doesn’t come with the option to deploy on your own servers - they only provide a hosted cloud deployment of their platform.

This is logical as companies using their core product knowingly use their product to pass data between their own tech stack. However this could become a challenge with the embedded use case as it involves an additional stakeholder - your customers. If your customers require a strict security review, you may need to get Tray’s team involved in that review, which can quickly complicate and slow down the entire sales process.

Requires a connector for your app

Before you get started with building integrations on Tray, you’ll first need to pay Tray to build a connector for your app. This can be a painful surprise for smaller SaaS teams who have a limited budget.  

If all you care about when choosing your iPaaS is the number of pre-built connectors available, Tray is a great choice. But if you’re looking for a dedicated embedded iPaaS solution that is highly extensible for developers and easy to use, Paragon and Prismatic are the better choices. 

Prismatic Alternative #4 - Pandium

Pandium is one of the more unusual Prismatic alternatives out there. Unlike the other platforms in this article, Pandium brands itself as an Integration-Marketplace-as-a-Service, or iMaaS for short. Their product direction is unclear, as they’re focused on serving business development/partner managers, but provide a half baked integration platform underneath.

They are however, the only alternative in this list that also focuses on the idea of an out of the box integration marketplace - a direction that is not well thought out as mentioned earlier.

Partner and marketing features

Pandium’s Partner Portal allows partners to send you information about their application and associated marketing collateral for the integration if they want to be added to your marketplace.

This is quite useful for partnerships teams as it makes it a little easier to get off the ground with approving 3rd party built integrations. However, this offers no benefit to the product and engineering teams responsible for building the actual integrations, which is the real challenge.

Connector limitations

Pandium has a decent number of pre-built connectors, with 200 of them across multiple verticals. Unfortunately, these connectors have essentially no value other than managed authentication (which almost every other platform on this list offers), since they don’t provide any built-in workflow actions. 

If you were looking at their connectors, you’d be better off using Paragon’s custom integration builder, which provides fully managed authentication on any 3rd party API.

No workflow builder

Unlike the other platforms we’ve listed, Pandium doesn’t provide an interface nor the tools for building integration workflows.

This means that aside from authentication, you’re essentially building out the integrations in-house, which defeats the whole point of trying to save engineering resources with an embedded iPaaS.

Marketplace UI

Pandium’s integration marketplace is embedded into its customers’ apps via an iFrame. This seems workable at first glance, but if your customers have an ad blocker or issues with cookies, it becomes very apparent to your customers that you’re not using a native solution, as this awkward screenshot shows:

Pandium offers a creative take on the problem of integrations, but ultimately doesn’t provide enough value to be competitive. Its integration marketplace makes setting up partnerships easier, but if you can’t build workflows, one has to question how technically valuable those partnerships truly are. 

Summary

We hope you’ve found this deep dive of Prismatic alternatives that are currently on the market useful as you navigate finding the best approach for scaling your integration roadmap. 

For a quick side by side comparison of the solutions, take a look at this chart:

*Prismatic is native & white-labeled only if you use their pre-built integration marketplace, which does not accommodate any integrations built outside of their platform.

Integrations are now a non-negotiable requirement for every SaaS buyer. To keep up, every B2B SaaS company needs to leverage an embedded iPaaS as a key component of their product development strategy, as it simply doesn’t make sense for engineering teams to spend months on integrations when they could be building out their key differentiating features instead.

If you’re looking for a superior Prismatic alternative that focuses on providing the most extensible and easy to use platform for your team, book a demo with Paragon today!

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