IBM B2B Integrator Review

Great technical support with excellent integration capabilities and good scalability

What is our primary use case?

We're in the UAE. Out of the top 10 banks, there are around six or seven banks that are actually using the product as an SOA layer. As integration with that, they have a different core banking system. They have different layers. They have a B2B also and they have a partner ecosystem. 

Clients are using the solution for the legacy applications, they are using it for microservices that are designed for the various different use cases. There's card management based on that, for example. Every customer has a different requirement and different use cases.

Currently, I'm working with one customer in government where they're trying to build that complete enterprise integration layer, which will have an ESB that is going to connect to that and all their internal applications. They have multiple CRM ERB finance modules.

Afterward, they are exporting the API to external companies, including government entities through the APIs we are exposing, in order to exchange the data. 

There are multiple stakeholders, typically.

What is most valuable?

The IoT IBM has on offer is very good. There are event streams. These collect data from IoT devices and analyze the data in real-time. IBM has a partnership with that Kafka. They use Kafka for real-time event data collection.

They have an infra layer and a platform layer as well as a software and application layer and an integration layer. They have a big data portfolio. It's great for Kafka and that Hadoop, all the data streaming, data normalization, all those tools are on hand for data quality.

It's easy to collect, diagnose, and transform, and to do real-time analytics through that. We have a complete portfolio from IBM called IBM Cloud Pak for Integration. It's in a bunch of products.

Product-wise, the product portfolio it's a very good product. We have the data power that is the gateway security and it's a very good product. 

The stability is very good.

We've found the scalability to be very good.

The technical support on offer through the portal is very helpful and responsive.

What needs improvement?

The current trend is to have data integration, hybrid cloud integration, and microservices with further API monetization. The solution needs to ensure that it has all these capabilities in order to properly satisfy a customer's needs. 

The solution definitely needs that gateway security, where all messages need to be secured, from the security point of view. 

They do not have a solid partner ecosystem, and they do not have a clear roadmap for down the line; they're missing that clear roadmap.

They do not have proper documentation of legal requirements so that a partner or a customer can quickly learn and get familiar with it. IBM needs to do a better job of supplying these details.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the solution for 15 years or so. It's been well over a decade. It's been a while at this point.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's a very tested and proven solution. If you're talking about that product portfolio-wise, product-wise, it's quite reliable. We can see in the Gartner Quadrant Table that IBM is always well-positioned. There aren't bugs or glitches. It doesn't crash or freeze.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability of the product is excellent. If a company needs to build the solution out, they can do so.

There are thousands of organizations that are using the product worldwide. If I'm talking about the UAE, our market, in the UAE we have close to 72 customers who are using this product.

How are customer service and technical support?

IBM offers PMR support. Customers can log into the IBM portal and they can create that PMR, and the IBM team, based on the complexity, can respond as appropriate. If there is a severe case, IBM can typically respond within 30 minutes to one hour. They are quite knowledgeable and very responsive.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I didn't use any other solution previously. Predominantly I was into IBM; I was working within IBM itself. When I left IBM, I joined a company that was also selling IBM software only. We have a DNSR contract. If a customer is asking for any specific region, then we can ping another vendor, however, we don't sell the other vendor's solution.

How was the initial setup?

Usually, when I work with the customer, they come up from a tender RFP, where they have a complex requirement. They have a lot of legacy applications, and they have a different kind of hybrid cloud. They may be working with a Salesforce cloud and on-premises applications. It's not really straightforward. Typically, they are big enterprises with complex environments. It's rarely straightforward. 

What about the implementation team?

We have our own consultancy team and we have a services delivery team within the company. They typically handle the deployment, however, sometimes, if we do not have the bandwidth or our own legal resources, we rely on a partner ecosystem where we have to engage with our partners to implement the solution.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

There are multiple kinds of offerings. If the customer is going to deploy on-premises, we have a perpetual license. If the customer is going to use the solution like a software as a service cloud solution, it's a monthly subscription. It's all according to the customer requirement and the customer budget.

What other advice do I have?

We don't use it for ourselves. I am part of the sales team. I used to sell this product to my customers. The customers use on-premises as well as cloud deployment models. 

The market has gone through a bit of a digital transformation. Customers need that integration layer that provides the capability to integrate with the various kinds of applications, and a solution should be able to integrate with the hybrid cloud. That is one of the major modern requirements.

A customer today will often have devices on-premises and often have a multi-cloud. A product should have the capability to have that integration supported by the hybrid cloud, and at the same time have the data integration layer with the capability for IoT sensors.

Whoever is trying to choose a tool needs to look for the integration to deploy to their enterprise. They have to look at all the aspects, and then they should select that tool that is going to be fit for their current requirements as well as their future needs.

Overall, I'd rate the solution eight out of ten. 

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**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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