In 2004 we started building our cloud-based integration platform, OpenText Trading Grid®. At the time we were receiving an increasing amount of feedback from our customers, many of whom were frustrated with the time and investment required to connect their business partners electronically using traditional integration software. Not only were the adoption rates low, but the connections that were established took too long to build. So we decided to create an alternative. Our vision at the time was to build a hosted B2B integration platform that would offer all the necessary integration features and network connections a company required.
Trading Grid would offer an alternative to the time-consuming and expensive process of building an in-house B2B integration platform.
Think about all the software and hardware that is required to establish a comprehensive B2B platform. You need:
- B2B Gateway Software—The centerpiece of any B2B platform, the gateway is responsible for actually sending files and messages between your applications and those of your business partners.
- Translator—Needed to convert messages received in one format such as EDI into another format such as XML.
- Communications Adapters—B2B Gateways usually ship with the most common IP communications adapters such as FTP, AS2, MQ and SOAP. But you may also need specialised software to transmit in EBICs in France, OFTP2 in Germany or Zengin in Japan.
- Application Adapters—You may also need adapters to purchase separate adapters to connect to your behind-the-firewall applications from SAP, Oracle, Infor or Microsoft.
You may also want to deploy add-ons such as:
- Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) to monitor your transactions for any irregularities or errors.
- Business Process Management (BPM) to orchestrate more complex, multi-step business processes.
- Managed File Transfer (MFT)—if you are sending a high number of bulk files or very large files.
Once you have purchased all the necessary B2B integration software, you will then need to purchase and setup all the infrastructure to run the various components listed above. You will need:
- Hardware—Servers to run the B2B integration software and storage arrays to archive your messages and files.
- Software Licenses—for operating systems, virtualisation software, web servers and relational databases.
And don’t forget that you will need to purchase not only the production runtime licenses for these software packages, but also rights to use them in a disaster recovery center, as well as in a development and testing environment. Each of these environments will require additional hardware and software licenses.
Once you acquire all the technology your IT staff will have to stitch together these various offerings that were not designed to work together.
To spend this much CapEx you will need to make a business case to your CIO and possibly the CFO. The process of seeking budget approval, purchasing the technology and configuring the infrastructure could take 3-6 months.
Does this sound like a lot of work? It is. And that is why we built Trading Grid. The idea behind our cloud-based B2B integration platform is to avoid all the hassles associated with the process described above.
With Trading Grid, there is no hardware, storage or databases to acquire and implement. You can simply select from a menu of integration services available in the cloud. Much of the infrastructure is pre-provisioned. Other parts can be configured for your specific needs in a matter of days. You get access to not only a production environment, but also a disaster recovery, a development, and a testing workspace.
With Trading Grid, there is no need to submit a seven-figure capital expenditure request to your finance organisation. You pay for access to the B2B integration technology as a monthly operating expense. Although, there are usually minimum monthly fees, the expenses associated with the cloud platform are typically more closely aligned with your usage of the technology.