When we first started, we had different systems and application, six or seven of them, globally. Using SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS), we have reduced the number of EDI communication tools. Now, we just have this one.
The solution can support B2B/EDI, EAI, and/or ERP integration requirements. The one thing that they are pushing is that they are a single solution that can meet all those needs. It's nice to have that in one system, versus using multiple systems.
It has also increased the level of efficiency in our company's operations by about 30 to 40 percent because everything is on one tool, supporting many people at the same time, worldwide.
The SEEBURGER solution has saved us money. Although there are other tools out there that do the same thing, if we had to buy those tools it would cost us more. The money that we spend on maintenance, for example, gives us the ability to communicate with other partners without having to use another tool or another partner. That's where our cost savings are.
I like that the tool has all the adapters — all the possible protocols that are in the industry. You pay for those adapters but at least it's all in one package. You don't have to get another tool or application to support another partner. It doesn't matter if you're in Europe or if you're in North America, the solution they have is global. It can support pretty much anything and anyone.
It's rather difficult to understand, from the application, what's broken and why it doesn't work. We typically need to get support from them directly, and it's usually in a consulting role, to fix issues.
Also, the training they provide is not really adequate. They sell you things that you can use to design things in your own way. To get them to show you how those work is very difficult. To get them to explain how their application works sometimes is difficult (depending on the customization that was done) I would like to see them build training courses and I would have no issue paying for them. Everything I know about the application is self taught.
In addition, if we ask one consultant, we get one answer and if we ask a different consultant, we get a totally different answer. If we ask someone in Europe, even within the same company, we get a different answer again. They're not globally aligned in terms of what their application does and how it's actually installed. Depending on who you talk to, you get a different answer. You could say each consultant or software engineer has their own way of implementing BIS. They could do a better job if they collaborated more internally and talked to the customers and asked questions so that we could give them examples and tell them where they could do better.
Also, their release strategy, in terms of number of updates, is very demanding; it's very quick. SEEBURGER releases an update every month, if I'm not mistaken. It would be nice if they could do semi-annual releases that are not really needed. If something is broken, you can always ask them to provide a hotfix. We can't keep up with the number of patches they have (even though we may not need it). Every time they send a patch, we have to retest everything. They could improve the frequency of their patches and maybe provide a procedure to test everything so that we don't spend hours or days validating their latest update. We don't know what that patch is going to do. We have to test it and we need a team to test it. It's something that we do overnight. We have to check every adapter, every process row, all the modules in their solution.
We've been using SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS) for roughly 10 years.
It's stable. They're always improving it. Their next release, coming out next year, has a lot of improvements. In terms of stability, they're moving in the direction of selling a standard. That's the right way to go.
The scalability is really good. That's one of the biggest features. Depending on the size of your company, how much data you have or frequency, their solution can manage it. You can grow vertically or you can grow horizontally. It really depends on the business. They have the capabilities to grow and expand and handle all that architecture.
In North America, our company has smaller needs for scalability compared to what we've seen other companies do, although it is bigger than our European side. We do have certain things that Europe doesn't have, different components or boxes in front of the SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS) server, such as proxy servers. Security is different in North America. We have a second node that handles more of the high-volume transactions, but we really haven't fully utilized it yet. We're just getting it up and running now.
We have two production SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS) applications, one for Europe and one for North America. Behind them, there are quality environments. Behind them we have another instance for their compliance checker, which is another tool. We also have a development box and a sandbox for initial patches and upgrades.
Technical support is good. The person who answers your ticket is the person who is going to solve it. They don't typically have level-one, level-two, and level-three support. The person who handles the ticket is an expert. They're users of the system. In most cases they can help you. In other cases, they will seek the support of their developers or consultants because it's out of their scope, and that's a normal way to handle those situations. Overall, the support is good.
We had a couple of previous solutions. One was Cleo LexiCom. We also had something called EDI Gateway and that's what we were using mainly, prior to this one.
SEEBURGER is an SAP partner. When we bought SAP, because we were going with one global ERP system, our operation in Europe chose SEEBURGER at the time. I was not part of that decision but I'm happy to say they made a good choice.
I wasn't involved in the installing of the solution. I was more involved in the configuration of it. In terms of configuring it, I didn't find it hard. If you know EDI, and you understand how protocols work, you won't find it too difficult.
It took me about nine to 10 months to migrate from one system to a different system. That covered about 40 plants. In terms of deployment, it's quick. It's just a matter of physically doing it, getting in contact with your partners and telling them, "Hey, I'm switching from this IP address to this IP address." I found it easy.
We used SEEBURGER consulting. We already had one instance in Europe. North America had to get its own instance and I was in charge of making sure that that happened: getting it installed, explaining to the consultant that these are all the flows we have today, and these are all the software components we have today. How do we put all that stuff into one box?
Our experience with them was very good. The person that we used is still with the company.
We realized savings after five years. We needed additional development as well as some minor things that we use in our company that they didn't have in their standard solution. It took us time to understand the product. During those five years we were consulting with them and needed their support to understand their tool. After that, a company should be able to be self-sufficient.
We pay maintenance of between $75,000 and $100,000 per year. The costs are based on your original purchase solution.
As far as I can remember, the company looked at IBM Sterling and at outsourcing.
Have a good understanding of what your business is. Understand what protocols you need to support. Know what your volume of transactions is and what the latency is of those transactions. Do you have to deliver those transactions in five seconds or do you have to deliver them in two milliseconds or do you have to do it in five minutes? If I were buying software that would be my question to the vendor: How long does your tool take to go from point A to point B?
The lessons I have learned from using the solution is that their tool can do many things. It's a full B2B solution, which is nice. They have additional software that you can tie into it. If your company ever needed something really specific to communicate with another backend application, or to convert an email to an Excel, or an Excel to an EDI file, their tools can do all that.
We have around 30 to 40 people using it or who have access to it and different components of it. Their roles range from database administrators to people who monitor the servers themselves. Our EDI analysts use it and managers use it as well. SAP level-two support people use it. We have five people who are involved in updates and maintenance of the solution, including an operating systems administrator, a database administrator, IT operations, and my team that validates that updates were done properly.
The fact that SEEBURGER invests a high proportion of revenue into R&D rather than promoting brand awareness is fine. They emphasize that quite a bit. They don't spend a lot of money marketing, like SAP or Oracle would. I'd rather them spend more money on R&D. That's where the value is. They're spending money to ensure that, with any new technologies and any new security threats or issues that come up, their application stays afloat.
We may look at SEEBURGER'S API feature but it's a little bit early. We have an API management tool already. When we went to them looking for this some years ago, their tool was nice on paper, but it wasn't a reality. SEEBURGER has invested in the last couple of years and has come up with some tools. I don't know how many companies are using it, but I think it's a little premature right now for us to buy it. But it might be something that we switch to. Ten years ago, none of that played a role in our decision. It was more that our company had been using SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS) in Europe over the last three years and we needed to get the North American side of the business on SAP and to be on the same type of system.
Because I've seen some other products, I'd rate SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite (BIS) a nine out of 10. That's only because I know what they're capable of doing and there's room for improvement. It's not perfect, but their solution is probably one of the best ones out there.