n8n Review: What can the iPaaS tool from Berlin do?
The automation and iPaaS world has a new star in the sky: n8n. Okay, maybe that's a bit dramatic, but the tool has been on our radar for some time and has really taken off in the last few months. That's why we couldn't help but give the tool a little check and would like to give you some insights from our point of view as an automation agency in this n8n review. We not only look at the developer side, but also the pricing, the usability and for which companies and customers the tool will be particularly interesting. So, here we go.
n8n Integration Power from Germany
n8n.io and n8n.cloud are tools and platforms from n8n GmbH in Berlin. Developed a few years ago and now backed by funding, the tool is in the process of shaking up the market as open source software. But let's start at the beginning:
n8n is an iPaaS platform. That is, it is a cloud automation tool that aims to connect cloud apps (such as Office365, Hubspot, Asana and so on). This allows apps to share data and information with each other that would otherwise be moved manually through many individual clicks. The goal of such platforms: By automating small, administrative and laborious steps, the people behind the computer have more time for other, more fulfilling tasks. Here's a more detailed blog post on iPaaS.
IPaaS can be used for a wide variety of purposes: Marketing, HR, CRM, sales, administration, accounting and many more areas can be integrated, making iPaaS attractive for countless companies. Of course, this has not only caught n8n's eye. The tool has to compete with existing greats like Zapier, Make or PowerAutomate. But let's stay with this n8n review for now:
n8n: Alternative to other tools?
What makes n8n special?
Open Source Code: The biggest asset of n8n (in our eyes) is that it is open source. The source code is freely accessible via n8n.io and thus enables you to host the tool yourself and, of course, to develop it further. You decide yourself who has access and, above all, where your data is stored (a great possibility in light of the DSGVO). On top of that, n8n is even fair-code licensed.
n8n.cloud: n8n is also available as iPaaS, which means that via n8n.cloud you can use the tool out of the box and use it on n8n's servers. As of today, over 150 integrated apps are supported in the cloud.
Community Support: As with so much open source software, n8n's community support is great. Not only is there help everywhere on the web in case of difficulties, but n8n itself regularly receives valuable feedback and suggestions. This is how the code is constantly evolving.
n8n Review: How much does the tool cost?
Not all n8n is the same. As mentioned before, n8n.io, which can be hosted locally via the open source code, is available for free. N8n.cloud, on the other hand, comes with a cost:
The price table (also compared to other tools) is very manageable: three packages at 20, 50 or 120€ per month with different numbers of workflow executions and active workflows. A Workflow Execution means that an execution is counted as soon as an entire, multi-stage workflow has run through once (regardless of whether it is successful or fails). Active Workflows in this case means a series of interconnected nodes. Nodes are a term that comes up again and again in n8n. Nodes are configured to perform a specific step or action, such as "Retrieve all users from Slack".
That's it, there are not many more specifications, but in our eyes they are not absolutely necessary. There's also a 30-day trial for testing.
n8n Test: First impressions and integration
Currently, n8n supports more than 150 apps, and the number is growing. Among them are, of course, the well-known and most popular SaaS tools such as Asana, Airtable, Office365, GSuite and Dropbox. Unfortunately, the tool has to admit defeat to the competition in the first comparison: Zapier, the undisputed number one, with more than 3000 supported apps, and Make , with currently more than 1000 apps, are already much further ahead. Of course, n8n is aware of this itself, but it also benefits from the strong community: not only does it regularly receive suggestions about which apps could be supported, but also concrete development.
If you now start with the integration in n8n, you can expect what we consider to be a very clear and tidy view. The interface is based on a flowchart, unlike the competitor's. You may be familiar with this view from tools such as Mural. You might know this view from tools like Mural. We find that this view immediately gives a good overview of the structure of the process and enables us to flexibly exchange individual modules or steps in the second step. This modularity makes development much easier than a linear structure.
In addition, n8n offers numerous templates for workflows on its own website. These can simply be copied and pasted into the n8n editor via CTRL + V. It could hardly be easier. Afterwards, you only need to configure your own accounts and your workflow is ready.
Strengths of n8n
n8n is still at the beginning of its automation journey, but we think it's already doing a lot right. One technical detail in particular convinces us:
Multi Triggering: It is possible to start a workflow in n8n via different triggers and then have it run together in one process. THIS IS GOLD. No other tool that we know of can do this. Such a small but valuable detail can be a decisive competitive advantage in the growing iPaaS market and should therefore not be missing from this n8n review.
Modular structure: We are completely convinced by the n8n interface. We know this modularity from Make and have loved it for a long time. Especially with the claim to make automations come true without much programming knowledge, this detail is very important. It is immediately recognisable which tools are used, which functions are carried out and what happens afterwards.
Export as JSON: In n8n, entire processes can be exported as JSON. This makes it easy to duplicate processes or use them as templates. This is a feature that is offered by many other tools, but is almost nowhere implemented as easily. This is especially due to the open-source model of n8n, in which we see a lot of potential for the coming months.
n8n Review Conclusion: n8n as an alternative for other iPaaS software?
n8n is still a young and relatively small tool, with a strong community and funding behind it. Currently, we still see some weaknesses for corporate use. However, the focus of n8n itself is still clearly on hosting the code itself, expanding it and using it for itself. From our perspective as a service provider, however, it still needs a few more features, for example more supported apps or better user management (which, by the way, none of the competitors has solved well). In our opinion, the tool still needs some time to become attractive and ready for use for large and medium-sized companies, but this does not stop us from giving it a clear recommendation if you want to try it out and play around with it.
We are always happy when new tools are added anyway. Almost every tool has small details that no one else has. In addition, n8n is currently in a strong growth phase, which makes us optimistic about the next few months and the further development of the tool. So maybe we will have to completely revise this n8n review in a few months, who knows?
Cloud Integration, iPaaS, SaaS, BPA… Ough, hard to keep track of all these terms. They are currently used frequently (and increasingly) in the context of automation, and it is sometimes difficult to make a clear distinction and distinction. We have already written blog posts on the terms iPaaS, SaaS and BPA, but we’ll take them up again here to make the difference.
But let’s start with cloud integration, because that’s the central umbrella term in which we embed all the other technologies in this blog post.
To illustrate these advantages, an example is suitable that we know well from our everyday work as an automation agency:
The central data to be used here is the data of a major customer. This can be the simplest information, such as the address. This address is required in numerous but completely different processes in the company: on the one hand, for correct invoicing in accounting. On the other hand, in the CRM system, where all the data of the large customer is also stored. But the address is also important in sales, for example, when employees go to the sales meeting on site.
Now the customer announces that the address of the company has changed after a move. This information will reach you by e-mail. There are now two options:
01. The e-mail is forwarded to all affected departments, accounting, sales, customer service, marketing… All persons open their corresponding program, CRM, accounting software, marketing tools (such as newsletter marketing) and change the data already stored there of the customer. This means that in multiple applications, different people do exactly the same thing: change one address. 02. But there is also an alternative: By connecting your applications, thus by integrizing them, the customer’s e-mail, or rather the information it contains about the address change, is automatically passed on to all affected applications: CRM, accounting, marketing, ERP. This does not require any clicks, because the cloud integration detects a trigger, i.e. address change, and thus automatically starts the process.
What sounds unimpressive in a single process becomes more effective when such a process occurs several times a day or weekly. Because there is a lot of data that is available in different applications and should always be correct. If these applications are cloud applications they are suitable for cloud integration.
But cloud integration doesn’t just happen. There are now a variety of applications that enable and implement this. Such tools usually allow us to link the relevant cloud applications on a central platform and define clear rules on when, how, where, how much data should be passed on and what happens to them.
IPaaS, SaaS, BPA, ABC – who can still see through it?
To realize cloud integration, there are various applications and technologies that are sometimes used interchangeably.
Cloud integration cannot be done without SaaS, iPaaS and BPA
Cloud integration is rather an umbrella term that includes numerous technologies, such as SaaS, iPaaS and BPA, and this is also absolutely necessary. Cloud integration is a concept that is made possible by appropriate technologies.
However, all terms share the commonality that they are cloud-based and thus offer enormous potential for growth and scaling. In addition, they are often cheaper to implement and maintain because changed requirements are easy to implement.
As an independent automation agency, we implement cloud integration according to your requirements. We use a variety of SaaS tools and iPaas (strictly speaking BPA) software. Together we find individual solutions that are flexible and scalable.