IBM B2B Integrator Review

We can move data between different platforms, transform it from one format to another, and do encryption and decryption.

What is most valuable?

It offers us an opportunity to communicate both internally and externally with data, and transformation and integration in general.

How has it helped my organization?

It gives us high visibility and the ability to transform data. We can move it between different platforms, transform it from one format to another, do encryption and decryption. It is very flexible.

What needs improvement?

With Sterling Integrator, as it comes out of the box, there's not a lot of things that have been developed. A lot of it you have to develop yourself with BPML, and developing of APIs and things like that for web solutions and front end. So I would like to see some other things come out of the box.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I've been using it since 1994-95, starting out with Gentran:Server. It's been around forever and it's very stable, very portable, very flexible.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We can grow it as big as we need it.

How is customer service and technical support?

On a scale of 1-10, there are times technical support is a 9; other times it's a 5.

Which solutions did we use previously?

I've used a number of different tools. We had Connect:Enterprise, which is a tool that is no longer supported; Gentran:Server on mainframe; and we had a Control Center on Linux and Sterling Integrator on another Linux. So we had a number of tools in different categories of our business and just knew that we needed to consolidate and bring everything under one piece of software so that we could manage it better with Connect:Direct, Connect:Enterprise, with encryption and decryption. So it was just a smart solution to put it all under one tool.

How was the initial setup?

There are some gaps that need to be filled in the initial setup. Especially when you're working in a multi-node environment. The issue is with port identification. We have latency issues with the application sometimes and there needs to be more customer visibility from the knowledge side with ways to overcome the latency issues. It took a couple of weeks to get support to provide us with alternatives for using extended ports in a clustered environment.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

There are many other vendors. You have GXS and Data Masons, which is a Microsoft tool that was the vantage point for EDI.

We looked at all of the opportunities out there and came to a decision based on what it offered us now and in the future for integration; what kind of migrations would need to take place, what the timeline would be, how long it would take, how much consulting would be required. So, we looked at all aspects of it.

When selecting a vendor, stability is most important. There are a lot of vendors out there that offer solutions that are gobbled up or they go away or the solution they provide is no longer available. So, IBM offers a lot. Of course, they purchased the B2B application as a part of their portfolio from Sterling Integrator, but IBM is an excellent solution because of the stability of the company.

What other advice do I have?

Really look at what your business needs are and make sure that your business needs and the tool that you are purchasing fits those needs. Just because you've used it in the past, just because you know somebody who's used it in the past, doesn't mean it's a good solution for you. It has to be something that fits the business needs. Where's your business going? What are your future needs? You have to think out of the box. You can't stay in the box in this environment because it is constantly growing and evolving.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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