IBM B2B Integrator Review

It's a suite of communication protocols, offerings, data transformation and back-end application integration.

What is most valuable?

One of the most valuable aspects of this solution is that it's a "consolidated" suite of communication protocols, offerings, data transformation and back-end application integration. It allows me to implement one solution, communicate with external and internal trading partners and transfer data between network systems using just one solution rather than many different solutions.

How has it helped my organization?

It allows us to scale quicker to what a customer needs. A lot of your available time is reduced because it's efficient.

What needs improvement?

It's a very good solution, but there's also room for improvement to make it easier and a little more user friendly. It's still more of a toolbox in a way. It's got a lot of components that you have to configure, which is great because it gives you extreme flexibility, but that also adds a level of complexity to it.

We could use templates and some shortcuts that would help users get up and running quicker and give them confidence in the solution.

Visibility and reporting is lacking. There are some default reporting capabilities such that we wouldn't have to build, for example, error reports, or bundling up. It should be more user friendly.

Also some pre-built, typical B2B business processes would be good, instead of having to build them out; I'd rather have some templates that we could use and modify.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is mostly stable, depending on certain factors as there are a lot of different components. Some platforms are stable; all in all, I don't see any recent issues with stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is very good. It scales well vertically and horizontally also.

How is customer service and technical support?

If you use the technical support, it's good for specific front-end issues. It's more of a challenge if you're trying to ask the "how to" questions, then it's not as good. For instance, "I am having this problem and this is the error"; here they can help find what the cause of that error is and related issues. But regarding the "how to" stuff, then they need to be better.

Which solutions did we use previously?

We upgraded because of limited capabilities in an earlier solution which didn't keep up with the set of standards, such as the newer versions of EDI, X12 standards, that are available in the Sterling product.

We realized the necessity for separate components, like for communications software versus back-end translation software or evaluating solutions and hardware without buying multiple products to put together.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is both straightforward and complex. The newer versions have an installation manager which helps. Depending on the way you deploy it, you have to know cluster versus single instances or nuances which may be a challenge.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Axway and GXS and considered some of the transformations from some of the other vendors, transfer solutions, the tightness of the solution, the maturity of the solution.

When considering potential vendors we look at quality and the level of customers they do business with. We look at their success stories in the industry that I may be interested in. We ask questions like, "Have they done this before?", and "Do they know my industry and the companies that I know?"

We did some proofs of concept. We had certain scenarios, mapping translation scenarios, communication information-type scenarios that we ran through with each of the products to see how well they could handle it. Obviously, the outcome of those comparisons also influenced our recent choice.

IBM's mapping tool for translation is easier to use and intuitive, and it's been around a long time. Some of the other vendors are a little bit narrowly focused and maybe didn't have the scalability of the IBM product.

What other advice do I have?

Try to reach out in the network of users via LinkedIn, or at an IBM conference. Get the feedback from other clients that use the solution and see if it's a fit, and what challenges it can meet for them.

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