Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Krishnan Manjeri, Yeshim Deniz, Derek Weeks, Elizabeth White, Ian Khan

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Industrial IoT

Microservices Expo: Article

SOA-Powered B2B: A Long-Term Strategy

Accuracy, efficiency, and speed in interacting with trading partners have never been more important

If you are in IT, there is good chance that you are maintaining multiple B2B integration systems for data exchange and translation. Every IT leader has considered consolidating these products into a single B2B suite to reduce costs and improve supply chain agility. Historically, each B2B system has acted like a "black box," providing little visibility and integration into the IT governance tools.

This article outlines the benefits of a service-oriented architecture (SOA)-enabled approach to B2B and why it's a better long-term strategy.

As more and more companies adopt SOA and realize the importance of governance, it's becoming critical to include the B2B suites into the SOA fabric and govern them as any other IT system. A well-thought-out SOA-based approach to B2B not only reduces the B2B expense but also provides SOA benefits such as improved governance, compliance, reuse and the ability to extend B2B processes to other IT applications.

As supply chains become more complex, the B2B complexity and volumes grow every year and meeting Service Level Agreements (SLAs) is becoming increasingly important. At the same time, the security, audit and compliance needs from B2B systems have increased. To meet all these challenges and minimize disruptions to their supply chain, companies typically plan on a B2B gateway implementation with the aim of consolidating all of their B2B projects into one application.

The focus of consolidation into one B2B application typically revolves around enabling the protocols and EDI/XML standards in use, as well as the ability to process the data volumes. The other factors such as visibility, extensibility, architectural fit and the product in question's ability to fit in the IT governance model are largely ignored, resulting in the continuance of B2B systems being their own islands of functionality with little visibility from the outside world.

Today's B2B Challenge
For years B2B software has been delivering on its promise to help organizations reduce the cost of doing business. B2B solutions have been used to automate transactions between customers, suppliers, partners and marketplaces, and to reduce costly overhead, improve transaction reliability and improve the efficiency of business-to-business processes.

But as IT complexities and the business demands made on IT have increased, a whole new set of expectations has emerged. Organizations increasingly realize that their B2B operations cannot be kept separate from their internal processes. They want to integrate B2B interaction with their business processes to enhance productivity and improve reliability both in IT and for the business users who own the B2B processes. They not only want the lower costs that this higher level of integration enables, but also to capture the significant business value of increased operational and competitive agility.

Unfortunately, B2B solutions have not all evolved quickly enough to meet these higher expectations. Common problems include the following for many organizations:

  • The solution does not allow reuse of existing IT intelligence and assets, severely limiting its business value. Further, this inflexibility forces a point-to-point solution in an increasingly heterogeneous IT environment.
  • The current B2B solution lacks flexibility, leading to higher costs and an inability to respond to business demands. For example, a legacy translation/mapping product might not integrate well with other B2B or IT initiatives, leading to higher costs in mapping and translation and greatly hampering business agility.
  • The current solution cannot provide visibility into B2B transactions. In essence, the solution is a black box, keeping IT operations and the business from accessing and leveraging B2B data. The result: increased operations costs, lower customer/partner satisfaction and higher barriers to supporting business initiatives.
  • The current solution is a point-to-point solution that fits poorly into the overall architectural vision and requires a dedicated set of skills and expertise to manage. The organization then faces the ongoing challenge of maintaining these proprietary, inefficient point-to-point systems.
  • The current solution might be going out of support soon, forcing the organization to make an upgrade decision.

As a result, many CIOs, directors and VPs of supply chain now find themselves at a crossroads. What's the best path forward? How should they address obstacles that their current B2B solutions put in the way of attaining the ultimate promise of B2B: comprehensive end-to-end integration of internal operations with customers, partners and suppliers? Increasingly, they are finding that the answer lies in B2B gateway software built on a foundation of service-oriented architecture.

The Power of Service-Based Integration
SOA delivers what organizations need to support the integration of heterogeneous B2B environments with many internal applications, trading partner applications and databases and can enable fast, accurate information exchange with those trading partners. Unlike traditional point-to-point integration approaches, SOA lets you service-enable disparate applications and orchestrate the services across the enterprise and the trading network. By surfacing functionality from existing systems and applications as services, you can avoid a dangerous ‘rip and replace' approach. Organizations can also build new services as needed and manage them across stakeholders and for their entire lifecycle.

With this comprehensive approach to SOA-enabled B2B, users can:

  • Leverage SOA to align overall IT processes with the needs of today's increasingly partner-centric business world.
  • Quickly and efficiently develop new solutions while extending existing IT investments by reusing or replacing as many or as few parts of legacy B2B services as needed. For example, building a new visibility service on top of an existing translation service.
  • Govern B2B systems using an SOA infrastructure and obtain a single view of business across all system and information silos both inside and outside the enterprise.
  • Take advantage of the various options for connecting B2B services to different parts of an organization, including service-oriented, event-driven or enterprise application integration.

In addition to addressing those relatively rare cases in which an organization is creating a new B2B environment from the ground up, SOA-enabled B2B solutions can help organizations convert the IT challenges of their existing B2B technologies into significant business benefits.

For example, such solutions are ideal for organizations that want to:

  • Modernize legacy B2B systems, including mainframe Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) systems, EDI translators, point-to-point integration solutions, and dependencies on Value Added Networks, which can be expensive because they charge by message volume.
  • Replace legacy EDI systems such as mainframe EDI connectors and older standalone implementations that now require a complex and costly upgrade.
  • Consolidate and standardize multiple B2B projects (often resulting from silo organizations or M&A) across the enterprise into a single B2B platform, enabling re-use and reducing cost.
  • Incorporate SOA architectural approaches into existing B2B infrastructures.

From a Cost Center to a Profit Center
Too often, IT has been seen as a cost center rather than as a powerful engine of efficiency and a source of significant business advantage. B2B operations that do not provide full integration of internal business processes and data with external interactions only perpetuate that view of IT. SOA-enabled integration helps IT shake off that undeserved reputation and further evolve from a cost center to a profit center by:

  • On boarding trading partners more efficiently and connecting them with relevant internal processes.
  • Improving the accuracy and efficiency of interactions with suppliers, distributors, trading partners and customers - eliminating costly errors and delays.
  • Reducing the cost of ownership by reducing the need for point-to-point integrations.
  • Leveraging existing IT investments by service-enabling them and reusing services.
  • Providing real-time information exchange, increasing the speed at which the organization can do business.

Further, trading partners now expect "frictionless" interactions that don't require manual intervention or cumbersome rework every time changes are made in transaction documents or the like. SOA-enabled B2B gives IT the business the ability to stay ahead of those ever-rising expectations, which bring CIOs, directors of IT, VPs of supply chain, and B2B architects who have recognized the need for SOA-enabled integration to another crossroads: which product to choose.

The Right B2B Solution
The right B2B is built on an integrated SOA suite, seamlessly providing access to enterprise service bus capabilities, as well as to business process management, monitoring, analytics, governance, composite applications, legacy applications and databases.

This foundation provides:

  • A single, centralized gateway for all B2B integration, spanning EDI, XML and Flat File document formats, enabling the organization to integrate 100% of its trading partners with a single solution.
  • Support for all major B2B standards and protocols such as AS2, ebXML, X12, and EDIFACT, and vertical industry standards such as Rosettanet, SWIFT, CIDX, PIDX and HIPAA.
  • A proven platform for even the largest, most complex B2B integrations, supporting transaction levels in the billions and connections to tens of thousands of partners and suppliers.
  • Integration with a governance platform, which combines a standards-based registry and repository with policy management, simplifying the reuse of services and the automation of SOA processes, as well as helping with the complexities and interdependencies of the organization's SOA and B2B networks.
  • Best-of-breed back-end integration, business process management, SOA governance, monitoring and business activity monitoring.

Whether an organization is modernizing legacy systems, seeking to replace a previous standalone solution, or consolidating and standardizing multiple B2B projects across the enterprise, the right software solution can help IT deliver the business benefits of next-generation integration now.

Adding Value in Tough Times - and Beyond
Like all decision-makers today, IT leaders face an additional dilemma: how to respond to some of the most difficult economic conditions in memory. Many organizations are trying to cut costs but also know that they need to grow incremental revenue to get through the current difficulty. SOA-enabled B2B integration addresses both sides of that complex equation. On the one hand, the best solution addresses costs through reuse of services, the retirement of inefficient and unwieldy patchwork systems and the ability to do more with less. On the other hand, the same solution addresses the revenue side with its unrivalled ability to rapidly support critical business initiatives. As the economy gains momentum, those companies that are already equipped with state-of-the-art SOA-enabled B2B integration capabilities will quickly outdistance their less agile competitors.

Accuracy, efficiency, and speed in interacting with trading partners have never been more important. The key to achieving those goals lies in SOA enablement, with its ability to make possible the integration of B2B processes with internal processes and help improve visibility of partner transactions across the entire supply chain.

More Stories By Navdeep Sidhu

Navdeep Sidhu is Director of Product Marketing for Software AG. He works closely with customers to solve their B2B problems.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
With online viewership and sales growing rapidly, enterprises are interested in understanding how they analyze performance to positively impact business metrics. Deeper insight into the user experience is needed to understand why conversions are dropping and/or bounce rates are increasing or, preferably, to understand what has been helping these metrics improve. The digital performance management industry has evolved as application performance management companies have broadened their scope beyo...
24Notion is full-service global creative digital marketing, technology and lifestyle agency that combines strategic ideas with customized tactical execution. With a broad understand of the art of traditional marketing, new media, communications and social influence, 24Notion uniquely understands how to connect your brand strategy with the right consumer. 24Notion ranked #12 on Corporate Social Responsibility - Book of List.
Analysis of 25,000 applications reveals 6.8% of packages/components used included known defects. Organizations standardizing on components between 2 - 3 years of age can decrease defect rates substantially. Open source and third-party packages/components live at the heart of high velocity software development organizations. Today, an average of 106 packages/components comprise 80 - 90% of a modern application, yet few organizations have visibility into what components are used where.
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes ho...
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
SYS-CON Events announced today the Kubernetes and Google Container Engine Workshop, being held November 3, 2016, in conjunction with @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. This workshop led by Sebastian Scheele introduces participants to Kubernetes and Google Container Engine (GKE). Through a combination of instructor-led presentations, demonstrations, and hands-on labs, students learn the key concepts and practices for deploying and maintainin...
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lea...
All clouds are not equal. To succeed in a DevOps context, organizations should plan to develop/deploy apps across a choice of on-premise and public clouds simultaneously depending on the business needs. This is where the concept of the Lean Cloud comes in - resting on the idea that you often need to relocate your app modules over their life cycles for both innovation and operational efficiency in the cloud. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at19th Cloud Expo, Valentin (Val) Bercovici, CTO of So...
Throughout history, various leaders have risen up and tried to unify the world by conquest. Fortunately, none of their plans have succeeded. The world goes on just fine with each country ruling itself; no single ruler is necessary. That’s how it is with the container platform ecosystem, as well. There’s no need for one all-powerful, all-encompassing container platform. Think about any other technology sector out there – there are always multiple solutions in every space. The same goes for conta...
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, will compare the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, e...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management solutions, helping companies worldwide activate their data to drive more value and business insight and to transform moder...
SYS-CON Events announced today that eCube Systems, a leading provider of middleware modernization, integration, and management solutions, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. eCube Systems offers a family of middleware evolution products and services that maximize return on technology investment by leveraging existing technical equity to meet evolving business needs. ...
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...
Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS - software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
Whether they’re located in a public, private, or hybrid cloud environment, cloud technologies are constantly evolving. While the innovation is exciting, the end mission of delivering business value and rapidly producing incremental product features is paramount. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Kiran Chitturi, CTO Architect at Sungard AS, will discuss DevOps culture, its evolution of frameworks and technologies, and how it is achieving maturity. He will also cover various st...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
Video experiences should be unique and exciting! But that doesn’t mean you need to patch all the pieces yourself. Users demand rich and engaging experiences and new ways to connect with you. But creating robust video applications at scale can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zohar Babin, Vice President of Platform, Ecosystem and Community at Kaltura, will discuss how VPaaS enables you to move fast, creating scalable video experiences that reach your ...
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
It's been a busy time for tech's ongoing infatuation with containers. Amazon just announced EC2 Container Registry to simply container management. The new Azure container service taps into Microsoft's partnership with Docker and Mesosphere. You know when there's a standard for containers on the table there's money on the table, too. Everyone is talking containers because they reduce a ton of development-related challenges and make it much easier to move across production and testing environm...