What is our primary use case?
By Software AG, we are also using Integration Server, Trading Networks, Active Transfer, Optimize for Infrastructure, My webMethods, and their EDI package. As long as there is product parity between products, it makes sense to continue using multiple products from the same vendor. Obviously, you want to make sure you have a diverse portfolio. Where those products start breaking those links, you want to make sure that you are using the best product for your company in this region.
The fact that we were already using another solution from this vendor affected our decision to go with this particular product, mainly from a cost standpoint. As is any product in this region, the biggest cost is almost always the upfront cost of laying out the solution. Also, there are some costs in having that solution already available: between knowledge of the platform, having the licensing rights, and if you bring in a new solution, then you are now paying for two solutions.
The native integrations between the vendors' products are very seamless. The products interact very well. At times, it's kind of hard to tell where one product ends and the next one starts. As new products come in, the integrations probably take one or two updates before they are fully integrated. However, once products are fully integrated, it is very seamless and easy to hop between one product to another.
Using multiple products from the same vendor creates efficiencies:
- In terms of knowledge. Obviously, there is a familiarity with the product and how you expect Software AG's products to act and respond.
- In terms of operational understanding between end users who are looking for specific data. They know how these products work and how to pull up these reports.
- In terms of having administrators overseeing these products.
There is a cost savings for using many of the same products. There are lower training costs. Also, typically, there are a lot of integrations that you ended up needing to build out, whether they be custom or out-of-the-box. Even if they are out-of-the-box, a lot of times that takes a lot of work to get those to work. However, since we are using Software AG products, it's very much like installing a plugin into an Excel program.
There was a reduction in the learning curve because we had already used the vendors' products. The products used work very similarly. In terms of verbiage, key aspects, or three-letter acronyms, you don't have to relearn any of those. There is an expectation of how these products will work. These products always work the same way when Software AG is rolling these types of products out.
We use webMethods Integration Server for two main aspects:
- For application-to-application integrations.
- B2B: The transferring of on-premise data out to other business partners.
How has it helped my organization?
As with any integration platform, it is a single pane of glass that allows you to see and interact with transactions as they are flowing. Out-of-the-box, Software AG offers robust monitoring solutions to help you understand if a solution's up or down transactions aren't working, etc. The tool has been invaluable to our organization in terms of understanding where our data is, how it's flowing, and its current status.
Having a single hybrid-integration platform for all our needs is very important. From an IT perspective, it is a way for us to easily troubleshoot and quickly resolve issues. From a business perspective, it's very important because IT is readily available to assist with any system issues which are happening at that time. Anytime that you have applications talking to each other, it is a breeding ground for problems and issues. Having a solution like webMethods Integration Server in place can empower your IT department to be able to resolve issues and roll out solutions quickly as new applications come into your portfolio.
We have been on webMethods Integration Server for 15 years. We just got rid of our mainframe. It works wonders with our mainframe. With SaaS and cloud applications, webMethods Integration Server does not answer this need by itself. This is where you would be looking for APIs or custom plugins to work with those types of solutions.
What is most valuable?
It is very open. It is extremely rare for us to find something that we are trying to integrate, but we can't integrate it. In the past seven years, I don't think that has ever happened. For any problem that we are looking at, the Software AG solution can solve. That has probably been the most valuable feature.
Application integrations are offered out-of-the-box, and that is extremely important to us. This is one of the main use cases that we have for it. It is about 60 to 70 percent of the workload in our application today.
What needs improvement?
Integration platform as a service (iPaaS) is probably the future and direction that many companies and organizations are looking at. Software AG is also rolling out robust solutions for this. So, if I was a brand new customer, that is where I would be looking. This is also the direction that I think Software AG is moving into along with almost every vendor in the industry. However, the integration platform, as it currently sits, runs really well. It's very robust and does what you would expect it to do.
For how long have I used the solution?
My organization moved onto the webMethods platform 15 years ago. I have been using it for the past seven years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Software AG is a partner who has been around for many years. The company is not going anywhere. Regarding the solution, you can get the capabilities that you need out of it. It is a known solution that works really well and does exactly what you would expect it to do.
Software AG's full support for the solution’s adapters and connectors brings long-term stability to our services and integrations. Software AG has many SMEs in each region, both globally and in each product type. Being able to have access to a subject-matter expert in the specific tool or region that I'm looking for is invaluable. I feel like I am talking to someone who has hands-on experience in either developing the solution or has many years of experience with the product or similar customers. They also have people who just work in specific business groups. For example, if I'm looking for a knowledge worker to do something with IoT, then they have people ready who can answer specific questions about products that we might be looking to integrate with.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
The solution is very scalable. If you want more webMethod Integration Servers, it is very easy to spin them up. It's very easy to apply packages to each one of those solutions. Or, if you want to just have one large webMethods Integration Server, it is easy to create the configuration settings to allow that JVM to have more memory.
There are less than 20 users. A solution like this is normally a back-end solution. Obviously, we have administrators who are overseeing the product to make sure it's up, patched, available, and secure. Developers who are rolling out new solutions and debugging any issues going on in production or lower environments. Then, the third group is probably the business users. That is a very small hand full of users at our company. Those users are typically looking just to make sure that the data is flowing as they would expect. For example, I expect a certain file to go out to this customer every day. That business user has access to log into the application and pull that file.
The product is used extensively at my organization. Out of all our integrations, it probably counts for 60 to 70 percent. Every minute of every day, it's being used. I think the usage that we have in place today is correct. If we were to expand any further, we would probably be looking at iPaaS solutions.
How are customer service and technical support?
Their technical support is very good. I have never had any issues with the support or getting the resources that I need.
Two months ago, Software AG did have a data breach, so their support desk got shut down. It has been down since then, and that has not been a pleasant experience. Prior to that, it was a pleasant experience. I think Software AG has been reeling from that, but there are ways to get a hold of their support desk. This ensures that their customers still have access to support, which has been available and out there. However, they did have a public exposure, which has ended up causing some loopholes for their customers.
How was the initial setup?
Upgrades are complex. They typically take about five months from start to finish. There are many packages that plug into webMethods Integration Server, which is the central point for a vast majority of the transactions at my organization. Anytime we are upgrading that, there are complexities within each component that we must understand. That makes any upgrade very cumbersome and complicated. That has been my experience at this company. Because there are many different business units that we are touching, there are so many different components that we are touching. The amount of READMEs that you have to go through takes some time.
This is where we would need to look at an iPaaS solution or moving to work with microservices solutions. Obviously, the smaller you make the solution, the more you're able to in an agile fashion.
From a high-level implementation strategy, we do a waterfall approach. That is the approach that we have ended up following for upgrading this solution.
Deploying solutions is very easy. The biggest thing that any company has to look at, because we have had a couple of pitfalls in this, is you have to look at how you're rolling your solution out. So, if you end up stacking or creating common services in the solution, those solutions become very tricky as they start to age, as any development cycle would end up having. The smaller you create the solution, the easier it is to keep rolling out those solutions, and staying away from common services really allows you to continue to roll out with ease.
As new solutions roll out or there is a different way for these apps to integrate, it has been fairly easy for developers to make the modified changes needed. The biggest thing is always knowledge because there have been some integrations that haven't been touched for 15 years. Then, if someone needs to touch one of those integrations, there is a learning curve in understanding how that integration works and what they are looking at.
What was our ROI?
Having a product like this is invaluable to any company in terms of the amount of time that IT gets to save in terms of integrating different products as well as having an open way to ensure that these applications are working. If you were to do this out of the box for each one of those solutions, while the upfront costs would be cheaper, the long-term stability of your applications would definitely degrade. As you are rolling this out for products that probably run your business, that's probably not a direction that any long-term company would want to go. I know my organization has seen time savings from not going with in-house built integrations from app to app.
For the B2B, we are probably saving somewhere between five to 10 full-time resources who would be working on this manually. For application-to-application, it probably has cut down 50 percent of our downtimes at a minimum. When you're talking about application-to-application integration, that is the thing that you would probably end up using as a key metric. For the amount of downtime that we have, I would double the amount or length of downtime that we would have if we didn't have this solution.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Currently, the licensing solution for this product is pretty straightforward. The way that Software AG has moved in their licensing agreements is very understandable. It is very easy for you to see where things land. Like most vendors today, they are transaction based. Therefore, just having a good understanding of how many transactions that you are doing a year would be very wise. Luckily, there are opportunities to work with the vendor to get a good understanding of how many transactions you have and what is the right limit for you to fall under.
With any solution like this, on day one you have a project that you're trying to work on, but just understand where you are trying to go with the solution. Some plugins are cheaper than others, and others are more expensive than others. Just make sure that you understand the full scope of what you might end up using the product for, so you can understand the all-in costs.
The tool works extremely well. Software AG offers packaged solutions for many packaged apps. Oracle SQL Server or Salesforce are add-ons that you can purchase and install easily for plug and play with packaged solutions. When you start moving into custom applications, there are no packaged solutions. The good news is that typically custom apps are built in some type of known technology, and that technology can easily be integrated into webMethods Integration Servers.
Business-to-business communications is an add-on that needs to be purchased. While super important to my organization, it is an add-on outside of the standard webMethods Integration Server. I would strongly recommend the business-to-business add-ons, especially if you're looking to use webMethods Integration Server in that capacity. It just makes the development cycles a lot shorter as well as making it much easier to manage your business profiles.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We routinely evaluate other options. I wasn't here when we made the decision to move onto this solution, but we periodically reassessed the platform to see if we are still sitting on the best solution that is matched to our corporation.
Today, there are many newer solutions out in the marketplace, and Software AG does offer those solutions. That is a great start. If I was starting over, I might look at those alternative solutions. However, if you are an alternative solution to webMethods Integration Server (not Software AG), then I would probably be looking a lot more into the cloud. webMethods Integration Server is used in a very legacy way. For example, we are on premise with data centers, which are legacy ways to solve a problem. If my solutions were in the cloud, then I would probably be looking at webMethods Integration Cloud as Software AG offers it, or any of the other vendors, like MuleSoft. So, you have to look at:
- What am I trying to integrate today?
- Where are those solutions sitting?
- If everything is on-prem and you are a 110-year-old company with 50 plants across the place, then probably having an on-prem is the right solution.
- If you are an eCommerce shop, then you are probably looking more in the cloud and for a cloud solution.
What other advice do I have?
The solution pays for itself, but it is complicated as it stands today. Make sure that you are using it for exactly what you have architected it for. Don't try to fit a square peg into a round hole.
We have been moving away from data integration for webMethods Integration Server. So, it's becoming less of a priority for us.
Software AG has been moving in the direction of trying to make their tool as modern as possible. It has plugins for Docker today as well as ways to integrate into webMethods Integration Cloud. While these integrations are available, we don't use them.
I would rate webMethods Integration Server as a seven (out of 10). For what the solution can do, it does it extremely well. The upgrades are very cumbersome; they are very long and disruptive. You have to do them at least every three years. It's not a fun time for any company. If upgrades were a 100 times easier, it would get a much higher score.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?
Which version of this solution are you currently using?