What is our primary use case?
We're a healthcare technology organization and that space has a great deal of integration work, so we use webMethods to help us manage and develop integration solutions for various healthcare-related needs. Those include HL7 messages, the new interop messages, the new CMS directives for data blocking, Affordable Care Act integrations, and integrations with other health systems.
Our particular product is a SaaS, multi-tenant environment that's on-prem but moving to cloud. It is used by hundreds of healthcare providers to run their businesses.
How has it helped my organization?
webMethods provides application integration, data integration, business-to-business communications, APIs, and microservices. We use it for all of those purposes. Having that range of features in a single platform is very important, because that means we have a single platform to learn and use. It reduces training costs. It reduces overall infrastructure costs. It even makes hiring easier because we have one set of resources we need to hire for.
In a very fast moving space—which is weird to say about healthcare, but it has certainly become that in the last few years, and especially in the last year—the ability to move very quickly and to reuse components and to connect to almost anything have become pretty paramount. The solution’s adapters and connectors provide the fastest way to build an integration. The demand curve for integrations goes up daily, so our ability to perform and build integrations is a key core competency.
What is most valuable?
Because we use most of the platform, it's hard to call out a most valuable feature, but it's probably the ease of mapping which is the single largest feature. It gives us the ability to craft anything. A lot of single-purpose technologies, like Mirth, are good for healthcare messages, but we use webMethods not only for healthcare messages but for other business-related purposes, like integrations to Salesforce or integrations to Office 365. It's multi-purpose nature is very strong.
The ease of deploy and maintenance of integrations is a key element for us. If the strength is the mapping tool and the ability to change quickly, and having all of the components that we can then alter as we need to, the result is that it allows us to react very quickly to changing business demands. For example, we have a need to send the same types of data to many different integration partners, and because we're able to tailor the delivery to each endpoint, but use one master flow, it allows great economies of scale.
What needs improvement?
I'd like to see the admin portal for managing the integration server go up a level, to have more capabilities and to have a more modern web interface.
For how long have I used the solution?
We've been using webMethods Integration Server for four or five years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
We find that it scales very well. It's a true enterprise tool.
Our usage will increase as our business grows. It's a core part of our infrastructure.
How are customer service and technical support?
The tool is very good and we haven't really needed to engage with support enough to know if their support for the solution’s adapters and connectors brings long-term stability.
Support has been there in the couple of times we've needed them. We have gotten a fine response. They completely meet our expectations of support for an enterprise tool. But typically, there's no need for them.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We had a couple of competing platforms: Systems Integration from IBM, and MuleSoft in the open source world. We switched to webMethods for the support from the company and the range and depth of available adapters and connectors. It gave us more capabilities.
What about the implementation team?
We used an integration partner to help us stand it up, so the setup didn't really impact us. We had a total of two or three people involved on our side. We used The Normandy Group and our experience with them was very positive.
It took us about three months to have the first integration running. The implementation strategy was
- install tool
- get it to work
- build first integration.
Those same two people in our organization are the ones involved in the day-to-day maintenance of Integration Server. We have two webMethods technical resources who are responsible for about 400 integration points or integration services.
What was our ROI?
We have seen return on investment from using it. We have to compute that every year, and the value is always greater than the cost. It's just that every year it gets harder to justify that value against the competitors.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Keeping in mind that we haven't explored the microservices completely, which has been a key element of their innovation recently, I do think webMethods is coming under increasing pressure when it comes to their price-to-feature value proposition. It's probably the single biggest strategic risk they have. They're very expensive in their industry. They've been raising the price recently, especially when compared with their competitors.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
I'm familiar with Mirth, in the healthcare space, and IBM SI is still a very large tool. Various other IBM platforms that will do similar things. The space has gotten more crowded over the years.
The single biggest differences between webMethods and the other solutions are the range of the offering, the connectors, the stability of the system, the fact that it is an enterprise-grade system, and that you can basically do anything you need with it.
The con is the fact that you are paying for the best-of-breed solution in the space, and the expense of it can be quite high. When you couple that with the fact that adding Software AG services increases the cost very fast, there is a real detriment to our adding additional Software AG offerings to the portfolio. The sheer expense makes us reluctant to do that. It's still justifying its cost for us, currently, but I feel that there are open source solutions that are charging up very fast. Also, finding resources who are trained in the tool is becoming increasingly hard as they become increasingly more in-demand.
What other advice do I have?
It's a very valuable and a very powerful tool, but it's a tool that you have to dedicate resources to, to learn and to use well. Use an integration partner to help get it stood up and in use in your organization faster. That is something that is very valuable. And then dedicate staff to learn it. This isn't one more tool in the toolbox. This has to become someone's toolbox.
The comprehensiveness and depth of its connectors to packaged apps and custom apps is fairly low, but its ability to build what you need is very high. The value of the tool is the Lego block nature of it, so instead of being framed into set paths, we can build what we need.
I would rate it at seven out of 10. The cost-to-feature value is what brings that number down. The difficulty in finding webMethods-trained resources in North America also brings that number down. The powerful, scalable, stable nature of the offering brings that number up.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?
Which version of this solution are you currently using?