All Development is a High-Level Integration Activity

John Thielens, Chief Architect, Cloud Services, Axway

“The maturity of component architectures, event-driven design, workflow as a development methodology, the availability of true, service-oriented components…means that all development is really a fairly high-level
integration activity.”

Futureproofing Our Information Exchange Infrastructure

Ruby Raley, Director, Healthcare Solutions, Axway

“Many, many folks are challenged by anything more technical than email. And many other folks are adopting almost an R&D approach to eMR implementation, where they’re trying to real-time enable ambulances to pull records. And when a patient arrives at an emergency department, an ED…they’re able to pull that patient’s health record up on the fly in real time.”

A New Normal?

Paul Lavery, Director, Solutions Enablement – Supply Chain, Axway

We started this year with the lingering pressure and anxiety of “The Great Recession of 2008” still weighing heavily over our plans and budgets. The projections for recovery were bad, and the level of uncertainty regarding the potential economic climate was at an all time high. One commonly held belief was that we were in a period of a “new normal.” Not that there was a common definition of what the “new normal” was, but rather that what many of us believed to be normal had changed.

Fair enough, in terms of the consumer (savings, credit, housing, etc.), but from a supply chain operations perspective, much of the work remains the same. If anything, the pressure and intensity of the recession of ’08 put greater value on many industry initiatives and technologies that had already been in place or were in the process of being implemented. The event, if there was one, was the realization that not focusing on an implementation strategy to centralize and manage supply chain file exchange left many companies scrambling to identify the real impact of the downturn in business. This, in my opinion, cut across all three of the major supply chain industries (retail, manufacturing, and logistics).

I wrote several blog posts related to more specific examples, including:

Common among all of them is the (re)prioritization of the role of IT infrastructure and how it will now play in company planning related to supply chain. What was leading edge is now more of a norm. I do not mean to suggest that all companies are set and have established systems and processes in place. On the contrary, most still have a lot of work to do. I’m saying that we have moved from educating to planning. It’s not about how it works and what it is. It’s about when it will be in place or who will we select to get this done.

A new normal for SC professionals’ operating plans? Not so much.

A new norm for how value proof points obtain larger budgets for the IT infrastructures that support the end-to-end supply chain data flow? Yes.

Banks and the Onset of SEPA

Mathias Bonnard, Product and Solution Marketing, Axway

“Banks will not only have to update their payment architecture in order to handle the new SEPA formats based on XML, but will also have to compensate that loss of (income) by creating new services for the corporate or individual customers.”

How Do Aging IT Systems Cope with Exceptions?

Joe Fisher, EVP Worldwide Marketing, Axway

“If you’ve got a long-standing FTP infrastructure and you want to figure out how you extend that infrastructure and make it secure, you could start to add elements of managed file transfer. Most organizations have existing email security or email exchange infrastructure and they need to figure out, ‘How do we make this email infrastructure smarter, but more importantly, secure, to meet new mandates?'”

A Process, Not an Event: Endpoint Enablement and Community Management

Willy Leichter, Director, Product and Solutions Marketing, Axway

“I think you have to step back a little bit when you’re considering your endpoints, particularly with a large community of users. You have to think of it as a process and not a single event. Really the problems when you push out a large community, a large group of endpoints, start almost immediately, in that the minute you get something out there, it becomes out of date.”

Solve That Last Mile

Ulf Persson, Director, Product and Solutions Marketing, Axway

Take the typical ERP problem. Then, consider the mid-market vendors selling, for example, transportation and warehouse management systems.

The way they offer these systems today, due to the trend, they are offering their ERP as a hosted solution, an on-premise solution, or a combination of the two—kind of a “hybrid” offer. In each of these scenarios, for these vendors to sell the bigger value, and to address the question, “How do I manage my transport management and logistics end-to-end?”, they need a piece of an “application” that can help them manage their trading partners and suppliers. That’s a typical problem that I see out there.

Today, application providers, enterprise resource planning providers, and CRM providers need the last mile so they can provide an end-to-end solution to offer their IP, their business know-how, to solve a certain business problem, but also have the ability to integrate that solution with trading partners, suppliers, or internal-type applications that they may run into when they deploy their applications.

ERP providers today—you have big players and smaller players. Maybe they are required to implement some kind of production planning system, so they come in and they realize that there are many other legacy applications, and they all need to be integrated—financial systems, order management applications, general ledger, accounts payable, and others.

A challenge here is answering the following questions: “How do they do that? What does it mean? Why is it important? How does the combination of traditional ERP implementation and some kind of integration technology—B2B, MFT—work together to solve that last mile of the problem, and to actually provide an end-to-end solution to a customer, internally and  externally?”

One answer, some may say, is to build point-to-point integrations from their systems, from the ERP, to these applications. But, long term, that will probably never work; it will be very difficult to support and maintain, as well as very expensive. Plus, you wouldn’t get the right level of business visibility. So that’s another area where integration software—and, if it’s of an external nature, B2B integration software—is used to help glue things together and provide a real answer to that question.

One more scenario.

Say you have a large enterprise, a global business—supply chain, healthcare—and they have, over the years, been using one of the larger ERPs—SAP or Oracle or something similar—and then, all of a sudden, there is a change in the version, which may affect some of the older APIs that they’ve used to build connectivity with trading partners, internal applications, or other types of systems. Introducing that upgrade would mean that they would need to change the interfaces.

Never fear: B2B software with MFT capabilities will govern that process, and instead of changing all of these point-to-point interfaces over and over again because they’re doing an upgrade of the main ERP, the integration technology alone will solve the problem in one fell swoop.