Digitalization has made business transactions with various partners (vendors, suppliers, customers, other organizations, etc.) highly efficient. The manual processing of information is inefficient and error-prone. Today, many companies have found that manual processing is not viable in a digitally-connected world. Business-to-Business (B2B) integration is the process of automating the business processes of an organization and its trading partners (supplier, vendors, and customers) for carrying out business transactions. B2B integration solutions provide a platform for trading partners to communicate and collaborate effectively.
About B2B Integration Platform
The B2B integration platform helps organizations to integrate all their business processes across their trading partners in a single gateway. B2B integration software provides a technology architecture to digitize information and improve the process of working with customers, suppliers and other partners. B2B integration helps in increasing the speed and improving the productivity of conducting digital transactions.
Key Components of a B2B Integration Platform
B2B Gateway Software: B2B Gateway is required to provide secure, guaranteed delivery of files and messages from your enterprise applications to those of your business partners. The gateway performs routing, tracking, configuration, administration and exception handling.
IP Comms Adapters: A library of communications adapters is needed to exchange files and messages with business partners using open standards such as FTP, AS2, MQ and SOAP.
Enterprise Application Adapters: A collection of application adapters to interface with your behind-the-firewall applications from SAP, Oracle, Infor, Microsoft or other specialized vendors.
Cloud Connectors: A library of cloud connectors to interface with popular SaaS applications such as Netsuite, Workday, Salesforce.com, Concur or Amazon Web Services.
Translation Software: The translation server is needed to convert messages received in one format such as EDI into another format such as XML.
Most of these core components are packaged with or sold as add-ons to the B2B Gateway.
Other Key Components
These days most companies are not limiting their B2B integration platforms to just the core components. Most of the companies are also implementing:
Business Activity Monitoring: Monitors the transactions for exception scenarios or patterns that an organization might want to be alerted to.
Business Process Management: To orchestrate more complex, multi-step business processes whose path may vary depending upon which customer the organization is interacting with or the product line being supported.
Business Rules Engines: For many years, companies have heavily coded business logic in their maps. But with the emergence of specialized business rules engines, the translation of the data is increasingly being separated from the data validation and conditional business logic.
Hardware and Infrastructure for B2B Integration Platform
Now we will look into what hardware and infrastructure, an organization will need in the data center to run it:
Server Hardware: First of all, the organization will need servers to run the B2B integration gateway, managed file transfer software and the associated databases.
Storage: The size of the storage array required will depend upon how long an organization wishes to archive your messages and files. If a company is subjected to regulations such as the EU e-invoicing directive, it may need to keep messages for up to 10 years.
Operating System: A business needs to acquire licenses for Windows Server, a Linux distribution or one of the various UNIX operating systems. It may need virtualization software as well.
Database Server: Most integration software depends upon a relational database to store transactions and provide reporting. Since B2B integration is mission critical, the organization might want to configure its database for high availability which will require additional licenses and setup work.
It is important to note that an organization 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. It is also considered a best practice to set up a development environment and a testing or pre-production environment. Each of these environments will require additional hardware, software licenses and infrastructure setup.
Rationale for shifting to cloud-based integration platform
Any organization looking to set up a B2B Integration platform needs to spend a lot of CapEx for the software and hardware components as discussed above. To spend this much CapEx the organization will need to make a business case to its CIO and possibly the CFO’s of the organization. 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. But there is an easier approach which is less time consuming and less expensive. Consider a cloud-based integration platform for your B2B needs. A cloud-native integration platform like DXchange Integration Cloud provides an infrastructure for connecting and collaborating with any platform, any application, anywhere. It is a Unified Integration Platform where Enterprises can seamlessly and securely integrate cloud applications and on-premises legacy applications using click and configure approach.
B2B mapping scenarios are always complex and with an in-built visual data mapper, it makes it even more easy for the users. DX Mapper from DXchange Integration Cloud provides a powerful, user friendly drag and drop, intuitive interface in applying the business logic. It is a web-based interface and we don’t need to install studio-like applications to perform the mapping.
DXchange B2B Integration platform is a modern approach that supports partner ecosystem enablement by integrating their business processes and people. The platform ensures secure & guaranteed delivery of files and messages from Enterprise Applications to those of the Business Partners. It is secure & supports routing, tracking, data cleansing, configuration, administration & exception handling.