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IBM B2B Integrator OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

IBM B2B Integrator is #4 ranked solution in top Business-to-Business Middleware tools. PeerSpot users give IBM B2B Integrator an average rating of 8 out of 10. IBM B2B Integrator is most commonly compared to SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite: IBM B2B Integrator vs SEEBURGER Business Integration Suite. IBM B2B Integrator is popular among the large enterprise segment, accounting for 73% of users researching this solution on PeerSpot. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a computer software company, accounting for 26% of all views.
IBM B2B Integrator Buyer's Guide

Download the IBM B2B Integrator Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: June 2022

What is IBM B2B Integrator?

IBM B2B Integrator helps you securely integrate complex B2B processes with your partner communities. It provides a single, flexible B2B gateway that enables your organization to meet a wide range of B2B integration needs. The solution can improve business processes beyond enterprise boundaries and increase visibility into and across supply and demand chains.

IBM B2B Integrator was previously known as IBM Sterling B2B Integrator, Sterling Gentran Integration Suite.

IBM B2B Integrator Customers

Bonnie Plants, Toshiba Europe, Florida Hospital

IBM B2B Integrator Video

Archived IBM B2B Integrator Reviews (more than two years old)

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JUNE TEBARTS - PeerSpot reviewer
E-Business at Dixon Valve
Real User
A complete and customizable suite for business processes, mapping, and connectivity
Pros and Cons
  • "Everything from the order to fulfillment to the payment process, except for physical packing and shipping, is fully automated for some customer orders."
  • "When working on an elaborate rule, I end up creating it in notepad and then pasting it into the Extended Rule window, which is not convenient."

What is our primary use case?

We use the Windows version of this solution. It integrates with a proprietary, SQL-based ERP. It provides standard EDI using VAN, AS2, FTP, SFTP, HTTP.  The full cycle from order to payment is covered. Also, it performs XML realtime transactions where customers can check stock, order status, and place realtime orders. 

How has it helped my organization?

B2B Integrator has reduced manual entry of purchase orders. Everything from the order to fulfillment to the payment process, except for physical packing and shipping, is fully automated for some customer orders.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is having a full set of tools in one place to create customized business processes, mapping, and connectivity. It includes everything you need for B2B. 

What needs improvement?

The improvements that need to be made are mostly little things. The Extended Rule windows in the mapper only have two settings: small window or full screen. When working on an elaborate rule, I end up creating it in notepad and then pasting it into the Extended Rule window, which is not convenient.
Buyer's Guide
IBM B2B Integrator
June 2022
Learn what your peers think about IBM B2B Integrator. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: June 2022.
610,518 professionals have used our research since 2012.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using this solution for twelve years.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Solutions Architect at Capgemini
Consultant
Out-of-box process orchestration yields quick implementations
Pros and Cons
  • "This solution allows for easy integration with heterogeneous applications."
  • "Out-of-box process orchestration yields quick implementations."
  • "Map translator needs more enhancements."
  • "End-to-end visibility and monitoring application required. The control center is available and covers this area, but it still fails in many monitoring scenarios."
  • "API-Fication required, and there should be more clarity on their cloud migration strategy."

What is our primary use case?

  • Partner onboarding
  • In-house application
  • Enterprise integration
  • B2B EDI enabling
  • Single point integration solution

How has it helped my organization?

This solution supports almost all enterprise integrations and B2B/EDI protocols and messaging standards. It provides a clear roadmap and visibility on product upgrades and features.

What is most valuable?

  • Allows for easy integration with heterogeneous applications.
  • Out-of-box process orchestration yields quick implementations.

What needs improvement?

  • API-Fication required, and there should be more clarity on their cloud migration strategy.
  • Map translator needs more enhancements.
  • End-to-end visibility and monitoring application required. The control center is available and covers this area, but it still fails in many monitoring scenarios.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Buyer's Guide
IBM B2B Integrator
June 2022
Learn what your peers think about IBM B2B Integrator. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: June 2022.
610,518 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Manish Vijayvergiya - PeerSpot reviewer
Dev Manager at a healthcare company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
It is easy of use and it's easy to maintain. It's also faster to on-board partners.
Pros and Cons
  • "It is easy of use and it's easy to maintain. It's also faster to on-board partners."
  • "There should be a single place to do things, rather than making it complicated, not moving away and truncating the old features but instead coming up with the new and still keeping the old stuff confuses people sometimes."

What is most valuable?

It is easy of use and it's easy to maintain. It's also faster to on-board partners.

How has it helped my organization?

It has ended invisibility, which is not there any more. That's a big implement for any solution.

What needs improvement?

There are a couple of issues which could be improved. One is the outcome of the ITXA integration on installation. We need better visibility around code lists. There is the handling of code lists and API calls to support partial update of any interfaces, training partner management, all of which is not there today. Their integration with ICCs is only limited to ADI, but it should be open for other formats.

Also, there should be a single place to do things, rather than making it complicated, not moving away and truncating the old features but instead coming up with the new and still keeping the old stuff confuses people sometimes. I think that's pretty much what I would like to say.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have used the solution for the past 15 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is still not where it's supposed to be. There is always a challenge when we upgrade things and improve on new versions.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is great.

How are customer service and technical support?

For my company, I would say the technical support is about 9/10. The only hesitation I have is the inability for IBM to understand the customer's need, and improve their product. Our requests were not responded to in a timely manner and the announcement was not done the way ABC would have benefited from it. But the majority of our concerns were addressed on time.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We were already an IBM shop but not to the newest technologies. So we ran into the situation where our systems were not as scalable. We didn't have end to end visibility, which became a key part of our business functions because we need to get into all the solutions.

We wanted to make sure that we have a single integrated application, which can fulfill the need of all the backend applications. Looking at the current solution to improve that was costlier. So we decided to go with an out-of-the-box solution from IBM, and that's where we are.

How was the initial setup?

The complete setup is always complex. Any new setup you do is not always straightforward, it takes months. So there are two aspects to consider here. One is the installation part and one is configuration to make it work.

Installation was simple and straightforward. But the configuration to tune the system to make it function the way it was intended to, wasn't known up-front. For instance with regard to clustering issues we ran into when we were in production. If we would have known that up-front, it would have saved us time and energy in the chaotic situation we were in. Those sort of challenges could have been improved if we had known it up-front.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

There were a couple of criteria when selecting a vendor. We had four big players. We did compare, we had a demo on-site. We did POCs and RFCs. After four weeks of exercise, we selected IBM.

The key challenge is that the Sterling Integrator has been there in this industry for more than two decades. There are key loopholes, or I would say there are low-hanging issues with the Sterling Integrator, and they could have all been improved.

Unparalleled, they try to invest energy to integrate with other applications of IBM products. The key essential part of what you are doing should be focused and unparalleled. I know it takes time. There are a lot of other fears being raised by lots of customers.

I have been a user for Sterling Integrator for the last 15 years. So it's not the first one for me and I see the same problems as all the clients. If those would improve, this would become best of breed.

There are also other challenges on the visibilities. Right now there are at least 10 to 15 players in the market, which build solutions using Sterling Integrator as a backbone. So why not IBM? If we have that as a single source of truth, we can install it in-house.

What other advice do I have?

Whatever industry or company, it doesn't matter. Depending on their need, Sterling Integrator is still a big framework for anyone who is looking to integrate their backend applications which are in legacy mode today, and their point to point applications. If they really want to have this type of application, well it's scalable and Sterling Integrator is still the solution.

I have been a speaker here for Sterling Integrator, and I think IBM already has at least four or five prospects here. They're talking to me to understand how we did at ABC. So I'm helping them to get to us.

It's one of the super solutions today.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user632661 - PeerSpot reviewer
Network Manager at Garanti Bank
Consultant
The business processes are the most valuable features.

What is most valuable?

The business processes are the most valuable features. We were using FTP before. We are migrating to Sterling MFT. We are doing some modifications to send and receive files, and we are managing them with business processes.

How has it helped my organization?

Sterling B2B Integrator is a managed file transfer program. Beforehand, we were using FTP and each FTP server was standalone, not controlled by any management facility. Now we have migrated to Sterling B2B Integrator and we have Control Center. We can manage all file transfers by Control Center. We can also create new file transfers over Control Centers without doing some things on the File Gateway. We can also do that over the File Gateway.

What needs improvement?

It doesn't support the Turkish language now. They said they will support Turkish in the new release, so we are waiting. It's a problem now because we are opening this product to our customers, not only internal users. For internal users, maybe it's acceptable to use English but it's not acceptable for customers. They are working on it and, actually, by the end of this year, it will be available.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is good because we are using the high availability mode. We are using two SFG (Sterling File Gateway) nodes. They are clusters in an active-active configuration, and we don't have any interruptions. The only bottleneck is in the database part and we are working to do something about it by speaking with IBM to see how we can solve this problem.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is good. When we were using FTP, it was not scalable; you have to install new servers for each one. With Sterling B2B Integrator, you can manage and collect everything on the same platform. It is an end-to-end solution. We have a mainframe, we have Sterling Connect: Direct on the mainframe, we have File Gateway, we have Unix and Windows Connect: Directs , and we have some security parts of Secure Proxies. Also, we did some integration with our LDAP Active Directory, so we don't create named users for company users. We just give permissions based on job function and adjust it. We don't need to create local users. That's why it's very scalable for us.

How are customer service and technical support?

Actually, we started migration in 2015, and we are getting very good support from IBM. We also have other products from IBM and being a big company in Turkey. We are managing cases or PMRs like other products and we can get extra support. There are some clever technical guys there. We have direct contact with them and they support us when we need them.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

As I've mentioned, the reason why we chose Sterling B2B Integrator instead of others was that it has an end-to-end solution. It has mainframe parts, it has Unix and Windows parts and it is also a centrally managed system with Control Center. It is good and better than others.

There are some other solutions, but they don't cover everything. You have to use some other product for the mainframe side. You have to use some other management tools or something like that.

That's why we chose Sterling Integrator; it has good functionality. It is guaranteed file transfer delivery. FTP doesn't guarantee it. With FTP, you send a file, it says it can, but maybe it cannot.

How was the initial setup?

I was not involved in the initial setup.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also evaluated Globalscape CuteFTP, CA XCOM, and IBM's own FTP solution. We were using IBM FTP on the mainframe side, and we were using CuteFTP on the server side. Some other groups in my company were also looking at Globalscape. We created a requirement list together with the security team and the servers team, to evaluate which solution can cover everything. IBM was successful, so we chose IBM Sterling.

We were already customers of IBM. We actually knew Sterling. It's not a new product. It was a Sterling company product, then it was acquired by IBM. It's better for us; that's why we are using Sterling now.

What other advice do I have?

I recommend it.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user213024 - PeerSpot reviewer
President and CEO at a tech vendor with 11-50 employees
Vendor
The extendability is an important feature, which we need.

What is most valuable?

The extendability is the most important feature, which we need. Needless to say, we like the way it works almost seamlessly with WebSphere products. Our work is mainly dependent on WebSphere, so Sterling fits in well for us.

How has it helped my organization?

From India's perspective, you are now completely changing the way e-commerce is happening. Efficiency, accuracy, and reliability are extremely important factors and Sterling B2B currently provides them.

It's a successful product and a big improvement for us. There are some areas of improvement, but what we thought it would deliver and the reality is pretty close.

What needs improvement?

Sterling cognitive analytics is a big thing. If they can do that, that will be great.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is great.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is the issue I have. I think IBM has to do much better in terms of product support. IBM consultants, the software group consultants, are unbelievably expensive, and their support is of lower quality. The good part is that there is a knowledge base throughout the web and so we leverage that. But an improvement area for IBM is to provide better product support.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Our original architecture was WebSphere-based, so we were an IBM Business Partner. We started looking around and Sterling, of course, came out. So, it was a natural fate, more or less.

How was the initial setup?

I myself was not involved in the initial setup, but our company was. We had some really good, smart Sterling folks, so it was OK for us. It was challenging, but it was OK for us. But, I heard it's a nightmare. This is why people hire us for Sterling work.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Actually, there were quite a few alternatives, but we are an IBM Business Partner and we rely on IBM. We try to fit in with IBM solutions, more or less. But we looked at TIBCO and we looked at something from Oracle as well; and there was a Microsoft product.

What other advice do I have?

Get a Sterling expert. Without that, the product might not be successful.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user634803 - PeerSpot reviewer
Manager of Enterprise Architecture at PSCU
Vendor
We use it to move data files back and forth in a secure fashion.

What is most valuable?

We use it to move data files back and forth in a secure fashion. That's primarily what we do.

How has it helped my organization?

We move quite a bit of files. It gives us the ability to have a system in place that moves all those files and delivers them to the appropriate recipients.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see more analytics and more information gathering about what is going where. Right now, we don't have good insight as to what's going where within the ecosystem.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been fine in our ecosystem. We could have done the deployment implementation a little differently because we have two sites.

We should have had two sites up and running. That deployment was a little lacking. I think we probably could have fostered something a little better.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It scales well if you have enough money. It is a very expensive platform.

How is customer service and technical support?

We have had no issues with technical support.

How was the initial setup?

I was not involved in the setup.

What other advice do I have?

You have to look at a lot of factors such as:

  • Scalability
  • High availability
  • Disaster recovery
  • Usability
  • Performance

Just do your homework. That's all it boils down to. Every vendor and every customer is going to be different, depending on their host system.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user632793 - PeerSpot reviewer
Solutions Architect
Vendor
We benefit from the out-of-the-box capabilities of IBM's healthcare package, including an option to customize the maps.

What is most valuable?

It has a very powerful dashboard interface and as well has very powerful business orchestration built into the tool. It's one, central information exchange - that was the need of our business, we are a managed service for the translation of files. That is the core strength of the tool that we are leveraging, to deliver a managed service. It is a multi-tenant managed service that we are trying to build using B2B on ITXA (IBM Transformer Extender Advanced). Those features are the core strength of our solution architecture.

How has it helped my organization?

The real benefits are the out-of-the-box capabilities of IBM's healthcare package with an option to customize the maps. The out-of-the-box capabilities cover 90% of your business requirements.

Also, it gives you clear direction on how to handle the gap between what is being offered and what the customer is looking for.

What needs improvement?

I would like if they would expose some of the traffic patterns and status state information in the control center; also, to send state information to some of the trading partners as well. And some of the features we would like to see are with the ease of high availability and the ease of failing over.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Stability is something that we're working on. It's a brand new system. It's a debut system, and we have one tenant on board. We are planning to bring in 15 more tenants. So, this is not something that was introduced a long time ago. The stability is great right now. We are working with IBM to size our system and extrapolate our needs for the next five years. As of now, the stability is good, but we are looking for better and a highly scaled system in the near future.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is easy if it is implemented right. Adding nodes to the cluster and taking them out of the cluster is very seamlessly implemented into the tool.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have pretty good and competent technical support and dedicated account managers from the IBM side. They're very responsive, time-sensitive and appropriate.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We did not have a previous solution. This is a brand new solution we put together.

How was the initial setup?

For the initial setup, there was some learning curve on our side, being an account, but with IBM's help, we were able to do it easily. It could have been difficult, but with IBM's help we did it. I wouldn't call it easy, but it took as long as it did to do it right.
The difficulty is not with the tool but with bringing the team up to speed and giving them room to play with it. There's a learning curve with these environments, and once you set it up, it was downhill.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated multiple products. This is the one we have narrowed on. The other solutions are also from IBM tools. We were considering whether to use DataPower and their MQ Managed File Transfer as B2Bi and also some other EDI products. At one point, we were even considering TIBCO, but we evaluated all of them.

When selecting a vendor, we were looking for one unified platform where we can do business process orchestration, translation, compliance check, and also multi-tenancy.

What other advice do I have?

If they are looking for a B2Bi solution, and I'm assuming that solution also will leverage some of the cognitive strengths of Watson, it's an awesome B2Bi solution. If anybody has a B2Bi business case, this is definitely one of the solutions, a mature solution in the market that they can consider.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user634812 - PeerSpot reviewer
Principal IT Program Analyst at a energy/utilities company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Provides business processors and service-assigned adapters.

What is most valuable?

It is GUI-based and has a very user-friendly interface. The new version of Sterling B2B Integrator has easy-to-use business processors and also built-in service-assigned adapters. That helps a lot. Instead of having to create them from scratch, you can just use the ones which were already created and then you can customize them according to your needs.

How has it helped my organization?

It definitely helps do things faster and with fewer errors. It is more efficient.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see a more step-by-step way of doing things. Even though it is a GUI-based interface, there are certain things that will get stuck if you do not understand it. I would like to see that be included along with the instructions.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is more than 90% stable. I haven't seen it slowing down or crashing, or any of those types kind of things.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is more than 90%.

How are customer service and technical support?

I use IBM support from time to time. I use them because there are certain things we have not done before. While installing, we had some hands-on issues with the new versions.

I have mixed feelings about technical support, because they are very good sometimes. It's very hard to reach the correct source, but they are very knowledgeable, if you can find the right person. It's a 50/50 experience.

It was a bit complex to reach the person who knows what we are trying to fix. I know they are capable of helping once we get to the right person.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We have been using this product for the last 10-13 years. They get better and better every time they have a new version. They fix issues that we had in the previous versions. We always want to keep up with the latest and the greatest.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved in the initial setup. It has changed a lot since we had them in the past.

They are trying to come up with the more user-friendly GUI based solutions for installations. The first time we did it, it took time to understand.

I have done a couple of upgrades on the same installation. The second or third experience is better than the first experience.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated IBM and GXS. We chose IBM because they are the world leader, their market is huge, and they are reliable. Their people have knowledge if you run into any issues once you start using it and if you need support.

When selecting a vendor, I look for pricing, scalability, reliability, and the basic things.

What other advice do I have?

I would definitely recommend others to go with this solution. You can learn and invest in the future rather than selecting a solution in which you do not know if it's going to last for long.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user634797 - PeerSpot reviewer
CEO at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Consultant
Has business process orchestration around the inbound and outbound transactions. There have been a couple of issues in terms of scalability and high availability.

What is most valuable?

The key features that you would expect from the solution are:

  • The communications and the protocols: The communication is very critical for any B2B product, especially for EDI commerce activities.
  • The protocols and standards that are supported.
  • The transformation leg, which is the transaction confirmation.
  • The business process orchestration around the inbound and outbound transactions.

In this particular space, Sterling B2B Integrator has been the number one solution in the marketplace.

When you go across the country, you see this solution the majority of the time. You don't even have to think about it. That's how dominant that product is. This is what used to be called Gentran. It started off on the mainframe and now it is running on almost all the platforms.

Of course, there are a couple of competitors in the marketplace. However, when it comes to stability, performance, standards, and the breadth of the support in various countries, this is an awesome solution.

How has it helped my organization?

The benefits are in terms of the two most critical sides of the business: the buy side and the sell side.

This has become the de facto standard. It helps in the supply chain optimization problems. There are still a lot of customers who still are using paper-based transaction processing. Some still are using faxes, but this is the way to go.

Even though API management has become so popular, corporate businesses are still going on API.

Visibility is really a cool thing. There's a built-in Sterling Control Center, which provides great visibility for all the different things.

It's not only about visibility. It's about acting on an alert or acting on a critical situation that might be failing.

For example, if I have some SLAs and if I'm not going to meet them, I want to be alerted ahead of time, not after the fact. That's one of the good capabilities that this product has.

What needs improvement?

There have been a couple of issues that we have raised in terms of scalability and high availability. IBM has responded back with the next-generation product and new features like the global mailbox and a couple of other things, which are pretty cool. We would like to use the same product without having to go for the add-on products.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This product has been in the marketplace for such a long time. The current version, 5.24, has been very stable for the last year and a half. The 5.26 version is a very simple upgrade.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is pretty scalable and stable. Scalability and stability are both perfect, spot on.

How are customer service and technical support?

There are times when we call IBM support, especially for the new releases. They are pretty good at responding. It's all about how you interact with them, and how quickly can you provide all the details about your product, your version, and the log files.

A lot of times, customers have issues.

Customer: "I have a problem."

Technical support: "What is the problem?"

Customer: "This is my problem. My translation is not happening."

Technical support: "What version?"

There is this constant dialogue that is going back and forth. If the customer can provide all that information in one shot as technical support is logging the ticket, then that will speed it up and you can get a resolution quickly.

The other challenge is that customers say that the problem is mission-critical, but they don't have the person available to address the issue. The customer has to make sure that there is somebody to receive and handle the call so they can get a resolution within 24 hours.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

The previous solutions had challenges. A lot of the customers came to us saying they wanted a new standard and what they had was failing. They said, "We need a better platform and we need something which has lots of enterprise trust."

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Microsoft and OpenText. Sterling is the best.

When selecting a vendor, I look for company stability, the product, and the depth of experience. Those are the things that really matter.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user634887 - PeerSpot reviewer
Senior Account Executive at a tech services company with 201-500 employees
Consultant
It's a suite of communication protocols, offerings, data transformation and back-end application integration.

What is most valuable?

One of the most valuable aspects of this solution is that it's a "consolidated" suite of communication protocols, offerings, data transformation and back-end application integration. It allows me to implement one solution, communicate with external and internal trading partners and transfer data between network systems using just one solution rather than many different solutions.

How has it helped my organization?

It allows us to scale quicker to what a customer needs. A lot of your available time is reduced because it's efficient.

What needs improvement?

It's a very good solution, but there's also room for improvement to make it easier and a little more user friendly. It's still more of a toolbox in a way. It's got a lot of components that you have to configure, which is great because it gives you extreme flexibility, but that also adds a level of complexity to it.

We could use templates and some shortcuts that would help users get up and running quicker and give them confidence in the solution.

Visibility and reporting is lacking. There are some default reporting capabilities such that we wouldn't have to build, for example, error reports, or bundling up. It should be more user friendly.

Also some pre-built, typical B2B business processes would be good, instead of having to build them out; I'd rather have some templates that we could use and modify.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is mostly stable, depending on certain factors as there are a lot of different components. Some platforms are stable; all in all, I don't see any recent issues with stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is very good. It scales well vertically and horizontally also.

How are customer service and technical support?

If you use the technical support, it's good for specific front-end issues. It's more of a challenge if you're trying to ask the "how to" questions, then it's not as good. For instance, "I am having this problem and this is the error"; here they can help find what the cause of that error is and related issues. But regarding the "how to" stuff, then they need to be better.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We upgraded because of limited capabilities in an earlier solution which didn't keep up with the set of standards, such as the newer versions of EDI, X12 standards, that are available in the Sterling product.

We realized the necessity for separate components, like for communications software versus back-end translation software or evaluating solutions and hardware without buying multiple products to put together.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is both straightforward and complex. The newer versions have an installation manager which helps. Depending on the way you deploy it, you have to know cluster versus single instances or nuances which may be a challenge.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at Axway and GXS and considered some of the transformations from some of the other vendors, transfer solutions, the tightness of the solution, the maturity of the solution.

When considering potential vendors we look at quality and the level of customers they do business with. We look at their success stories in the industry that I may be interested in. We ask questions like, "Have they done this before?", and "Do they know my industry and the companies that I know?"

We did some proofs of concept. We had certain scenarios, mapping translation scenarios, communication information-type scenarios that we ran through with each of the products to see how well they could handle it. Obviously, the outcome of those comparisons also influenced our recent choice.

IBM's mapping tool for translation is easier to use and intuitive, and it's been around a long time. Some of the other vendors are a little bit narrowly focused and maybe didn't have the scalability of the IBM product.

What other advice do I have?

Try to reach out in the network of users via LinkedIn, or at an IBM conference. Get the feedback from other clients that use the solution and see if it's a fit, and what challenges it can meet for them.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user634869 - PeerSpot reviewer
Consultant at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Consultant
It has a number of different components that can fit together. Visibility would probably be the most important improvement.

What is most valuable?

  • It has a number of different components that can fit together.
  • People can use or not use certain things.
  • It integrates with some of the tools like IBM Transformation Extender.
  • It is a B2B gateway rather than just an EDI translator.

How has it helped my organization?

They have modernized the solution recently and added some things. EDI translators have been around for a long time, so they've added things like advanced coms and global mail-boxing to make it much more real-time and with high availability. It is a good value.

What needs improvement?

Visibility would probably be the most important thing, so I can see the transactions points through and start to do some analytics from them.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I think it's pretty stable. It needs some additional things like visibility. That's why we look to partners who provide that kind of visibility. That is something that could be changed.

The product is stable. There are some things that they can do to enhance it, to make it a little bit more stable in terms of visibility of transactions.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is pretty good. It scales pretty well.

How is customer service and technical support?

I have used technical support. Sometimes, it's hard to get through to the right people. It takes some time. My questions tend to be beyond level one, so I may really need to get to the higher levels of support. That can take some time and it can be a little frustrating.

What other advice do I have?

Be careful with the visibility. I think they are going in the right direction in a lot of things. Depending on the transformation that you need, we've got that built-in to the Sterling B2B product, which is good for basic transformation and mapping, but anything advanced would probably need Transformation Extender.

When selecting a vendor, I look for company stability and the direction of the product.

I know a lot of tools in this area have kind of been around for a long time and they didn't really change that much. IBM has done a lot to modernize it a fair bit, so it's been a pretty important bit.

Make sure you are keeping up with changes in the industry.

It is a decent solution and it has room for improvement.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user632787 - PeerSpot reviewer
B2B Manager at a pharma/biotech company with 10,001+ employees
Vendor
We previously used Gentran NT. We moved over to Sterling Integrator and we're happy with the translation part of it.

What is most valuable?

It's a very flexible product. It's stable and it's been around for many, many years. We were a Gentran NT user previously. We moved over to Sterling Integrator and we are very happy with the translation part of it. We don't use it for communication but we're happy with the translation capability.

How has it helped my organization?

It helps us to consolidate multiple divisions into one Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) source. We had multiple EDI teams at one point on the mainframe and we converted them all into one single center of excellence for Sterling Integrator and EDI.

What needs improvement?

I think probably the envelope setups are a little complicated and cumbersome. There are a lot of pages to go through. I know there's ITXA, a new product that came out that should help with that but maybe they can use some of that knowledge from ITXA and put it into the existing BDBI setup.

Maybe also the navigation part could be a little easier, when trying to track documents.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I think it's very stable. I don't really have a lot of issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We're currently moving into a clustered environment so we're going to add to the scalability using two different servers and they're going to be in an active - active mode.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have used the technical support a number of times. We've always had a good relationship as far as opening tickets is concerned. I think sometimes it's hard to navigate the website for the knowledge base and finding information or documentation is a little bit tough but usually when we call we get a good answer.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Wwe were a Gentran shop before and all our maps were in Gentran so it was a natural progression to go to BDBI so we didn't have to redo our maps. We have maybe 600 different maps so we didn't want to reengineer all those in a new platform.

How was the initial setup?

The setup is fairly complex. As you do more and more installs or migrations you get a little better at it each time and we usually come up with our own documentation that we customize. We go through it and we use it as a template for each install, for each version upgrade.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It is expensive. There's a lot of overhead, there's a lot of involvement to install and maintain it.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I think we did evaluate some other solutions before but they would have had to have been half the price and completely irresistible to make us switch from Sterling. I don't think we really had an intention to leave Sterling at the time.

When considering a vendor we look at the overall cost, whether the vendor company has changed hands a lot, and what their capabilities are.

What other advice do I have?

I would say make sure that they really have a high volume, a number of partners and transactions to justify the cost of putting BDBI in. Maybe if they're a smaller shop or there is some other translation software they might want to go with or going on the Cloud might be another option for a smaller company. Our size is very large and we have 12 people in our BDBI team right now that support the EDI and communications.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Solution Architect at O.C. Tanner
Real User
The file gateway allows us to build out custom protocols for use cases such as FTP, SFTP, and S2.

What is most valuable?

The IBM B2B Integrator is going to be a middleware point of contact for us. It's helping us in terms of file transfer communication. There is a file gateway, which is built on B2B Integrator, which allows us to build out some custom protocols based on our requirements. That would be any of the use cases; FTP, SFTP, S2 and all kinds of communications.

I believe that the translation part is the best thing, with which we can do a lot of custom business processes. It will help us to build a translation specific to our partner, specific to our port, or specific to EDA testings. It's going to help us a lot in translations, especially in terms of converting the standard EDA documents to the internal file formats or vice versa (back to EDA).

I started working as a developer and now, I'm a solution architect. All this while, I have been using it, for over 13 years; this is a great tool.

What needs improvement?

There's a lot still to be improved in the component, as there are many challenges in terms of B2B tools. One of the challenges was on the Sterling side, since I love to have translations with XLS. So, if you have a Word document and an XLS file, then there is no conversion right now, which is a standard way of doing it. It's not happening anywhere in the world, i.e., anywhere in the B2B tools, so I'd love to have that kind feature soon.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been working on this tool for the past 13 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of the solution totally depends upon a company and as to what they are looking at the moment. Right now, we are looking at the Sterling B2B solution, so it is good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is also good.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is good. We just have to be conscious on the escalation part, i.e., if it's a Level 1 or Level 2. Otherwise, they are good and prompt.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Previously, we were using Mercator, which is now acquired by IBM and now known as IBM WTX/IBM ITX.

We did a market research and then found out that this is going to be the less expensive solution, in terms of the cost, as compared to the other products.

When selecting a vendor, we just want the vendor to be flexible and who can go with a lot of iterations; and the cost; and then who has the technical capabilities; and then who is very strong in communicating things; and being fair in terms of the cost. We have a lot of issues in terms of dealing with the vendors, since their billing prices are very high.

We chose IBM because it's a great tool and is going to support us to do a lot of internal completion of the translation piece. Also, cost-wise, it's less compared to the other products.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Right now, we have Shree Consulting and we have Lightwell our short list; that's all I know.

What other advice do I have?

It can do everything. Now that IBM is acquiring the ITX/ WTX, it's going to be a next generation tool. As long you add some capabilities to it, it's going to be good solution.

You should go for it!

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user632721 - PeerSpot reviewer
Software Engineer at a retailer with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
The EDI conversion is the only thing I like about it. The mapping and stability need to be improved.

What is most valuable?

The EDI conversion is the only thing I like about it. We have got a lot of clients, maybe 6000-plus clients and around 15 flavors of EDIs. We get EDIs from them, do the conversion, send it to either the IBM Integration Bus (IIB) or create IDOCS to SAP and for the other direction, as well.

How has it helped my organization?

We have got a lot of purchase orders and invoices coming through, which is the only door in and out to the company. Thus, it's kind of a critical path for us.

What needs improvement?

Probably, the mapping aspect needs to be improved. The stability is also something to look into; definitely we need that for now, but for the future, the mapping process is not that great.

It needs good monitoring. We are experiencing issues in terms of the speed and also for trying to clean up and back up.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We did experience stability issues. That part I'm not too happy about. I think we need to work on it. Sometimes it is slow, so we had to kind of clean out the database. We are trying to look more into that.

How are customer service and technical support?

We are in the process of contacting the technical support team. I would give them a 6/10 rating.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We were using mainframe. We were going to get rid of mainframe and that product wasn't going to survive out of mainframe. So, we had to look at something else.

How was the initial setup?

I'm not an administrator, so I didn't hear much in terms of the installation. I think it was smooth.

What other advice do I have?

Test it thoroughly, not just carry out surface-level testing. Make sure the business logic works as to how you're going to store the data, how much data you will need, how slow it's going to be, i.e., once you've stored the data against it and so on.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user631743 - PeerSpot reviewer
Integration Techinical Lead at a logistics company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Vendor
One of the Powerfull & stable tool out there to handle B2B

What is most valuable?

The IBM Sterling B2B Integrator is a very good B2B tool which has required services and adapter to handle B2B requests. Having this variety of adapters help us handle all most all requests from our customers.

How has it helped my organization?

We are able to handle the request which were not able to handle before with Trusted Link translator. We are able to built custom processes, even edit out of the box business process to make them work how we wanted to track information for our end to end visibility.

What needs improvement?

There is no end-to-end built in visibility at least until we moved to IBM managed services.

Able to test processes in debug mode.

Able to test processes from local machines.

For how long have I used the solution?

12 years

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The product is very stable. We use version 5.2. We used 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 as well. It was previously Gentran Integration Suite and then it was branded as IBM Sterling B2B Integrator. Version 5.2 is stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is good. We had the right hardware as per recommendations.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

There are three types of issues. Simple, medium and complex. For simple issues we were able to find some answers from Knowledge base. For medium issues we used to raise tickets with L1 where some of them are solved or we get L2 involved. For complex issues we hit L3 and it many end up as product enhancement request sometimes. Critical & Complex issues used to take some time to get on to same page, recreate it at IBM environment and come with a resolution. I would give them a rating of 8 out of 10.

Technical Support:

We didn’t use technical support for the solution because we had a good team coming from AS/400 background. We were mainly focusing on issues when something didn't work. We got help for the following:

  • Hardware requirements.
  • Installations.
  • Patch installations.
  • Some of the key functionality, in terms of certain adapters and how they work.
  • Guidance when we were trying to understand how an adapter works in detail.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Yes, we had Trusted link translator V2 and V6 which are no match with respective to functionality we get from IBM sterling integrator so that was the reason we switched.

What other advice do I have?

This is a good tool for a person who already understands the B2B concepts. You will have to build the base framework first and then start onboarding customer interfaces otherwise you will end up with too many customer interface to handle down the line.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Applications Integration Analyst at a manufacturing company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
It is flexible, with the ability to integrate across various enterprise systems.

What is most valuable?

The valuable feature is the ability to integrate across various enterprise systems. It's a very flexible tool. The way we have customized our solutions based on IBM Sterling B2B Integrator cannot be replicated by any other B2B vendor on the market right now.

How has it helped my organization?

One benefit is the flexibility. In our company, our bread and butter is a transportation system. We transport consumer product goods from Central America back to North America.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see the implementation of APIs into the solution mix. They are already working on this. I would like to see more capabilities to understand how easily APIs can connect and how they can be integrated with the existing B2B suite.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is a pretty stable solution.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The only con of the scalability is that we are trying to see how we can scale to the cloud. It is not really clear at this point how this will occur with this solution. We don’t know how it will scale if we move to a hybrid, on-premise solution on the cloud. That's not really clear at this point. I am trying to learn precisely that.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I was not around when they chose the solution. At that point, I believe this was the best middle-of-the-road solution in the 2008-09 timeframe.

How was the initial setup?

I was not part of the initial setup, but I was there during two subsequent upgrades of this solution. It is not something you actually plug and play. It's very complex and it actually requires a technical consultant. It's not something which is very easy.

What other advice do I have?

The solution is very good for the traditional integration scenarios, such as point-to-point integrations. When you're looking to take the technology to the cutting edge, new age, digital, 21st-century, omni-channel kind of scenario, it still doesn’t make the cut.

When selecting a vendor, the most important factor is obviously the company size. This plays a role in the market. We go by the Gartner market leader recommendation. Anything on Gartner gets our "eyeballs."

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user634851 - PeerSpot reviewer
Director of Application Development at a transportation company with 5,001-10,000 employees
Vendor
From the scalability standpoint, not having to do upgrades is a valuable feature.

What is most valuable?

From the scalability standpoint, not having to do upgrades is a valuable feature. It does provide that cloud-based offering for us, so that we don't need to support the back-end hardware.

How has it helped my organization?

It has helped improve the speed of delivery. Like I mentioned earlier, as far as not having to worry about scaling out, as we grow more trading or have more partners that come in, when we have to set up EDI with these folks. Now, we don't have to worry about issues such as if our environment is large enough or do we have to add or need to grow space and such things.

What needs improvement?

From my perspective and as per what I know, it needs more hardening of the environment and they need to make sure that there is less unscheduled downtime. 

It does solve our issues and problems. However, the main issue is around uptime and they should do as much as they can, so as to correct anything in regards to that.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is good. We have experienced some issues with unexpected downtime from IBM Sterling. So for the most part it is good, but we have seen interruptions.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability of this solution is really good.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Previously, we were using Gentran. They chose to take it out from being an on-site/on-prem solution to the cloud. So, for those very reasons that I have mentioned earlier, i.e., as far as not having to worry about the configuration, setup and management, are the main reasons as to why we switched to this solution.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

The support, stability and being able to provide the proper solution are the key criteria while selecting a vendor.

What other advice do I have?

Probably you just need to make sure, as you go through your contract, that your SLAs are accounted properly and you know what to expect with any potential downtime.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user631776 - PeerSpot reviewer
Integration Architect at Delphi
Vendor
For managed file transfer, you can isolate a source system and a target system. It should integrate better with other IBM products.

What is most valuable?

We're using this product for managed file transfer. This gives you the ability to isolate a source system and a target system. You stick a Sterling managed file transfer in the middle, which allows you to deploy that isolation. It gives you the ability to replay the data in case of a failure, allows you to retry, and gives you extensive error notification.

It has many more capabilities, but we are using it as a managed file console. Sterling is a full B2B platform. This means you can do a lot of data transformation and things like that.

This has become our new file hub. Any data coming from any partner first hits Sterling. It provides a whole security layer. It has become our security. A component of Sterling is housed in the so-called “DMZ”, demilitarized zone.

A simple advantage is you are providing a proxy. This means that the outside world does not know where they are sending their data. They send it to Sterling. Sterling manages the data and determines where it goes in the environment.

Due to the way Sterling is designed, you do not open your firewalls for incoming streams at all. Sterling has a proprietary way of communicating between the secure network and the DMZ that allows you to completely protect your environment from outside attacks.

How has it helped my organization?

It is now our core managed file transfer platform.

What needs improvement?

Better integration with other IBM products is definitely the main piece with room for improvement.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable, but it's got its quirks. For example, all the file-based data is stored in a database.

There is an option for a user file system, but the recommended approach by IBM is primarily to use a database to store all the file data. This is not an optimum way to do things. We're already running into a lot of database space issues, in archiving, etc. But, again, that is implementation criteria.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is perfectly fine. You can do whatever you want. You can scale it up as much as you want. We're nowhere near being in a position where we will be running into capacity issues. However, I believe it's highly scalable.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We were using a simple FTP server that was sitting in the DMZ. We really needed a fully functioning platform and managed file transfer. This solution provided that.

We changed solutions because we looked at the stability of the product and the company's commitment to it.

We looked at what we were replacing in terms of our core integration product, which was already a product that IBM had acquired. It had to become an IBM product.

Certain parts of what we had in the environment were maybe usable by IBM. The reusability of its SAP infrastructure was a key decision.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved in the setup. It was very complex.

Different components need to be in the DMZ. There is the authentication piece, which probably requires integration with something like Active Directory, which we didn't go with.

We're using Sterling's own data store. The sheer number of pieces and the communication, especially the communication between Sterling and IBM's other products, is not evolved because IBM acquired this company recently, relatively speaking. The integration between its core ESB and Sterling is not well defined.

In fact, we went down one route by using Connect:Direct. We actually had to abandon it after putting in a substantial amount of work. We then went with a simple FTP approach after that.

It seems like Sterling continues to operate as a very independent company within IBM, and that's a problem.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Oracle, IBM, and SAP.

In terms of selecting a vendor, we certainly look at their reputation and the quality of their products. We look at their ability to stand behind their products and improve them. IBM is very committed to their products, their platform, and building it.

What other advice do I have?

If you are looking at the solution as a managed file transfer tool, it does the job. There are probably similar products out there, just from an MFT perspective.

Sterling has integrated itself as a B2B platform. This is excellent, because it has many capabilities that we are not using currently. It is a full replacement for EDI, but we're not using it currently. 

I know that the product is very capable. IBM needs to integrate it better into their portfolio of other products in order to make it work better.

I would recommend it, but be careful because it is complex and there are gaps in compatibility.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Subject Matter Expert at HCL
Consultant
It has a number of different components that can fit together so you can use it partially or fully.

What is most valuable?

It has a number of different components that can fit together. People can use it partially or fully. It also integrates with some of the mounting tools like IBM Transformation Extender and it's a B2B Gateway rather than just a BDI translator.

How has it helped my organization?

They've modernized the solution recently and added some things where BDI translators have been around for a long time, and they've added things like advanced coms and global mailboxing to make it much more real-time with higher availability. So it's good value for our organization.

What needs improvement?

I think it needs some additional things like visibility. That's why we look to partners who provide that kind of visibility and I think that's something that could be changed. The product is stable but I think there are some things that they can do to enhance it, to make it a little bit more stable in terms of visibility of transactions.

Sterling B2B Integrator is a transactional tool to manage the flow of EDI centric transactions to and from your trading partners. It also works with an add-on product called ITX Advanced (ITXA).

As transactions flow through, the users would like to see the status if each of the transactions, or an analytic view of a number of transactions. For example, a user might say “tell me how many EDI claims failed validation today or this week?” Or how much order volume in terms of dollars was processed today?

I had that request from a VP of Sales when I was an EDI Coordinator. He would come by every day and ask “have we hit $1M yet in orders today?” He was not technical, and wouldn’t be able to run queries on a database, for example, so if the tool could give a dashboard with the transaction totals, both in physical transactions (i.e. 15,783 POs today) as well as business level information (those PO’s totaled $1.3M in orders, or $450,883 for product A, and $78,932 for product B, etc.), that would be valuable to business users.

Some of IBM’s partners, like Lightwell and CoEnterprise, have been building these dashboards as part of their offering as they have seen a gap in the IBM product.

For example, CoEnterprise offers a solution called Syncrofy to do this.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's pretty stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It scales pretty well.

How are customer service and technical support?

Sometimes it's hard to get through to the right people in support. It takes some time. My questions tend to be beyond Level 1, so I may need to get to the higher levels of support which can take some time and be a little frustrating.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

It was already in place when I got here. I know a lot of tools in this area have been around for a long time and they didn't really change that much. IBM has modernized it a fair bit so you make sure you're keeping up with changes in the industry.

What other advice do I have?

I would say to be careful with the visibility. I think they're going in the right direction in a lot of ways, depending on the transformation that you need. We've got a built-in to the Sterling B2B product, which is good for basic transformation and mapping, but anything advanced would probably require something superior.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user634863 - PeerSpot reviewer
Infrastructure Engineer at a insurance company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
The number of self-service options and the transaction transparency are valuable features.

What is most valuable?

One of the most valuable features in IBM Sterling B2B Integrator would be the ease of self-service. We previously had a competitor for our file transfer and IBM Sterling B2B Integrator is what we have migrated to. It makes transparency into the transactions a lot better than our old legacy product. There are a lot more self-service options, especially with File Gateway. It has a lot more capabilities in terms of scalability and adaptability, so that we can use IBM Sterling B2B Integrator to scale to our growth, whereas the old platform we could not.

What needs improvement?

The breadth of APIs is something that I would like to see improved. At a recent IBM conference, I was going to a hands-on lab about the APIs and the Sterling solution, and I would love to see them expand upon that. We use IBM Control Center and they have a lot of work to do with their APIs. You can't make a single call to get all the information you want on a file status, on a transfer status. I would love to see them improve both in their IBM Sterling B2B Integrator, File Gateway, and control center, the use of APIs and I guess the options that you can have with them.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Out of 10, I would give stability a seven, only because I think in IBM Sterling B2B Integrator, there are still some bugs. We have a secure proxy, perimeter servers, IBM Sterling B2B Integrator and the File Gateway. When you do full restarts for refreshes or maintenance, when you bring them back up, you can't do an SI restart cleanly without also doing the proxy. You have to do everything as kind of a package restart. Otherwise, you'll get some crazy things happening with the adapters. Now, that is on a 5.2.5 version. We're going to go to 5.2.6 in a couple months here. We’re hoping they eliminate that and we have our IBM lab advocate that works closely with us to address our concerns.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is great. We future planned when we implemented the Sterling solution so that we could match 10-year growth and right now, we're underutilizing the environment. We've done 1x, 2x, 3x, even 5x testing on it. It still holds up to a 5x test, whereas our legacy platform couldn't even match the 1x that we currently are running.

How are customer service and technical support?

We use technical support all the time. I'd probably rate them probably another seven out of 10. They always help us with our solutions in a quick manner. However, probably more than half the time, it's “Just wait for the next fix pack to have your thing resolved.” We open up PMRs with IBM all the time. I'd say we have several hundred by now.

The back and forth with, “Can you send me this log?”, “Now, can you send me that log?”, and “Can you send me this log?”; it would be helpful if, when you open up a PMR based upon certain applications, they tell you which kind of logs that they look for. That way, when you open up your PMR, you can attach those logs based on that product, like IBM Sterling B2B Integrator. And that way, you're not doing this back and forth for a week straight of, “OK, now I need this log and that log, and this log and that log.”

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We knew we needed to invest in this solution because our previous legacy platform was fully customized. We were out of date on the server, on the version of the product, and roughly 80% was custom scripted with Perl scripts that we had to support in-house. We needed a solution that we actually could go to support for, if there were any issues, and not rely on a couple of people who wrote a bunch of Perl scripts.

How was the initial setup?

I was not involved in the initial setup. However, I have been involved in all the server refreshes, so I've had to actually set up the environment from scratch on new servers. I find it to be pretty straightforward for 5.2.5.

For 5.2.6, we've done some test runs and it's a little bit harder with installation manager now. I never had to do installation manager of 5.2.5 but I think once you get that down, it's not too bad. And once you get installation manager installed, it appears that upgrading after that is a lot easier than before.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Before choosing this product, I think my company evaluated a total of five vendors. Out of the five, IBM beat out the other four. Since I wasn't there for the initial setup, I'm not sure of the other vendors.

For our company, the biggest thing when we’re selecting a vendor would be partnership in the service level contracts. If there is a previous relationship, that's even better. We're very closely integrated with IBM, so there is a lot of partnership and service level credits and contracts already in place. That was probably one of the biggest drivers of why we went with an IBM solution.

What other advice do I have?

We actually have several meetings with other colleagues at other companies who want to implement this solution and we tell them some of our pain points, some of our success stories and overall that it's the right move if the company can afford it, because I know that IBM is not always the cheapest. But it is worth the investment to have a product that is the best in the market, and overall more stable and more scalable.

My rating reflects that there's a lot more work to do. Still, compared to other products, our legacy platform, it still outperforms them.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user634824 - PeerSpot reviewer
Senior B2B Professional at Sea Level Solutions
Consultant
Versatile product and easily transportable.

What is most valuable?

The product is easily transportable - it'll go to any platform. We can make any business, an electronic commerce business in no time at all. We have enough experience with the software itself so that a company can go out and buy the IBM product, hook that company up with us, we can put the software they need on it, and they can be in business in two shakes of a lamb's tail.

What needs improvement?

Well perhaps an easier way of getting questions answered would be useful. The emailing of questions into IBM's site for Sterling support works but it would be nicer if we had more. The knowledge base does leave a little bit to be expected.

I don't see that it needs anything more. It does everything just the way it is right now. There is a lot of years of development back from when Sterling was an independent company, before IBM took over. They formed a niche and we have it.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is unbelievably good and we have a Sterling hotline for all of our Sterling questions. They're very responsive. IBM is a little bit of a cumbersome thing in front of it, but we know how to get out around that and it works out very well. What happens is a customer that spends $1,000,000 in their budget, they get support all the time as they need it and the company itself doesn't have to be technically savvy. All they need to do is interface with our company, Sea Level Solutions, and they have everything they need to keep business running.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It can go any size. It's a little bit expensive for a mom-and-pop shop, but again, IBM will be having much smaller packages, which will be more affordable.

How are customer service and technical support?

I am technical support. I am like first and second line, if I don't know it I can usually get on a phone call to someone who can get me answers within a reasonable length of time, 6-12 hours.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I supported another product from TSI Software back in the 90s when Gentran
Basic was being developed.

What other advice do I have?

I rated it a nine because there is always a little bit of room for improvement.

I would advise colleagues to find a way to be able to utilize this product because it would give them everything they need and then some because it's just it's a very versatile product.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user631728 - PeerSpot reviewer
System Engineer at First Citizens
Vendor
I like the ability to customize it, manage partners, and manipulate the files.

What is most valuable?

I like the ability to:

  • Customize
  • Manage partners
  • Do all the file transfers that it handles
  • Write code
  • Manipulate the files: Zip and unzip files, PGP the files, or any type of file manipulation

How has it helped my organization?

It allowed us to set up partners and communicate with our different vendors, in regards to file transfers for the bank.

What needs improvement?

Ciphers: Security around ciphers and handling the changes within that industry could use improvement. They could make it easier to enable and remove ciphers that you don't want to use or that have been deprecated, etc.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have had no issues with stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have had no issues with scalability.

How are customer service and technical support?

The support I've had for the application is really good. They are very professional, courteous, helpful, and they get back in contact with you in a timely fashion.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I started with a company that was using Connect Enterprise, and it was just too open to scripting.

People weren't writing the same type of scripts, and it wasn't the type of application where someone could come in and pick it up. It was good that they got Sterling Integrator.

How was the initial setup?

I was not involved in the initial setup at my particular job, but I was in the past. The complexity depends on how you want to use the app. You can definitely use it as is, out-of-the-box. However, most customers are going to want to customize it to their business.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

They actually looked at Axway, and I think about five or six other vendors. We ended up going with Sterling Integrator because of its ease of deployment. You could jump in anywhere and deploy it on the server.

What other advice do I have?

I would give them basic information about how to set it up to make sure that it runs efficiently. I would give them performance advice, as well as configuration advice on how to deal with partners, bringing files in and sending files out.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user631752 - PeerSpot reviewer
Integration Architect at a pharma/biotech company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Supports communication protocols such as FTPS.

What is most valuable?

Both data transmission and data transformation are the two very, very critical features of this application.

We use a Sterling B2B Integrator file transfer management solution; a B2B solution, or like an EDI solution. As a pharma company, we deal with a lot of external trading partners. It can be suppliers or EDI partners, where we exchange all the data. So when we are exchanging the data, we have to keep to certain standards. In North America, we use the ANSI X12 standard, where data is converted from one format to another and then sent out to the trading partners. We use Sterling Integrator to do the data transformation, as well as data transmission to send the files off to them. This application supports various communication protocols, like FTPS. Sometimes the vendors are not really tech savvy, because you're talking about a scientist who is not really tech savvy. For them, we provide a URL where they can simply log in using their credentials and upload their research files. This is the application that we use to route the files.

How has it helped my organization?

When it comes to data transformation, it's very flexible. It allows us to convert from any format to any format, such as from CSV to XML, or flat file to positional, or whatever. And the fact that it supports a good number of communication protocols make it easy because most of the customers don't feel comfortable using FTP or open protocols. This gives us the file technology to support web services. On both ends, it's the flexibility that makes it stand out from the others.

What needs improvement?

I would like more visibility, because IBM has partnered with other companies that sell frameworks. So I thought if IBM can invest more on providing that visibility, having us install a third-party framework, would be a nice feature that IBM could seriously think about.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We never had any major stability issues, to be frank. We had only one issue that was more in the infrastructure, but the system has been stable for a pretty long time. We haven't had a need to upgrade the system because it was that stable. The only issue is that in the current version that we are on, one of the security features is not available. In order to get new features that are available, we are thinking about upgrading. But, other than that, from the stability standpoint, it's pretty stable; no issues at all.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have already installed it on a four-node cluster, so it's pretty scalable. Down the line, if there is a need, we can simply add two more nodes without complicating it. We could definitely scale it, so that's not a big deal.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We have been acquired by another company, so we already have quite a few technologies that we use for the same thing. Even for EDI, we have TIBCO and Sterling B2B. For file transfer management, we use TIBCO Business Connect and Axway Secure Transport and Sterling Integrator. So, I think we are better placed to asses which is working better. So when we gauged them, we found the Sterling Integrator is really flexible and is able to support a lot of business use cases when compared with the other technologies.

When selecting a vendor, meeting our business needs, not only the current needs but also the future needs, would be the critical thing for us. If the current needs are met but you're unable to meet the future needs, then there is no point in selecting an application that is meeting the current needs but down the line we have to look for another alternative solution. It's such a big company and we don't know what kind of requirements are coming up. So, we have these periodic sessions to get an understanding of what is coming our way. Then we asses whether we could meet those needs or not. So, that's the reason why we proceeded with the procuring of Aspera, which is used for large file transfers in terms of like, terabytes or petabytes.
So that's a solution that we use that was acquired by IBM two or three years ago. So this is what happens when we get to know what's coming our way and we know IBM or the Sterling Integrator is not used for large file transfers, we may pull out another solution that would handle that.

How was the initial setup?

I was involved in the setup. I'm the one who designed it. It was pretty straightforward.

What other advice do I have?

It's a case-by-case basis, so advice depends on what your needs are and what you're looking for. But if you're looking for something like data transmission and transformations, then yes, this is an ideal solution. But, if you're looking for large file transfers, then Sterling B2B is not the one. Another IBM product like Aspera is the right one. It totally depends on upon what kind of use cases you are trying to handle.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user631713 - PeerSpot reviewer
VP at a financial services firm with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Provides a single point of visibility for all the transfers that we conduct within our bank.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is its capability to integrate with multiple protocols.

How has it helped my organization?

It provides a single point of visibility for all the transfers that we conduct within our bank. It has great audit-lock capabilities for anything that I have to go back and look at as well. On top of it all, it's also secure.

What needs improvement?

One of the top most features that is missing is the integration with the ASPERA FASP protocol for us, which is still missing on the B2B Integrator. IBM bought ASPERA a few years back but haven't been able to provide this protocol integration with their B2B file gateway. However, the same is now integrated with ‎Connect:Direct for a standalone solution but not on the Connect:Direct adapter within Sterling Integrator.

So, that's the primary one. There are just a few missing aspects in terms of the integration; otherwise, the product is good. It's pretty scalable. It's pretty easy to use once the install is done. It has a user interface, which is great. So, everything except a few challenges on the new integration. That's it.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's pretty stable. We generally don't apply the latest patches and the latest versions as they come out. We give it some time before we go ahead and install it, because the general IBM tendency has been to follow a version with a couple of hot fixes on top of it. In the past, we have had issues when we did upgrade to the latest version.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's pretty scalable; I don't doubt that. The only thing I feel right now is that it has slowed down in terms of integrating with other new technologies. For example, Aspira hasn't yet been integrated with this B2B solution, which in my opinion is the need of the hour.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is always great.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I wasn't using any other better solution than the one that I'm using right now. So, I think IBM B2B Sterling Integrator and Sterling File Gateway is the leader and I don't see any other product as compelling as that one.

How was the initial setup?

The setup was not too complex; I've been doing it for a while. Of course, you need some advanced knowledge of B2B integration and study integrator tools, in order to go ahead and be able to install it correctly.

What other advice do I have?

It's great. Build your team, because you would need constant administration of this gateway. Even though when I say it's not complex, you need a dedicated admin to take care of your investment, i.e., if it's going to be a big gateway for your organization. But apart from that, once you have it, it is automated on its own.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Director at LFL Corp
Real User
It is simple and extensible. It hasn't given us any grief in terms of downtime.

What is most valuable?

It is simple and extensible, but it's sustainable and easy to use.

How has it helped my organization?

It's made us a great deal more nimble, or quick, to be able to change or react to customer or vendor changes and impacting our ability to partner with them, the customer center.

What needs improvement?

You'd have to contact my technical team to get any detail on room for improvement. I think, really, the ideal is what it's capabilities are right now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's kind of always on and hasn't given us any grief in terms of downtime and five nines plus, and online capability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Our ability to work with our customers and add to, extend, and broaden our footprint for B2B transaction processing really makes a big difference. And I think that technology is helping us do that.

How are customer service and technical support?

We would rate technical support fairly high; seven or eight, nine, out of ten.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We were using a different solution, many different ones, maybe we had three or four. The idea, really, was that in order to grow and continue our ability to partner with our customers and vendors, we needed a single solution. It was really a challenge.

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup was complex in that we had a lot of legacy systems, and we were setting, or moving toward, a single platform, one version. That made a big difference from the complexity point of view. It's been simplified, and worked on; the transition from our multiple legacy systems to the new IBM solution.

What other advice do I have?

Plan your requirements, understand what it is you're trying to accomplish, or where you want to go, and then fit the solution to that. Don't try to figure things out first, or just build solutions.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user631692 - PeerSpot reviewer
B2Bi EDI/MFT Technical Lead at Bridgestone america
Vendor
We can move data between different platforms, transform it from one format to another, and do encryption and decryption.

What is most valuable?

It offers us an opportunity to communicate both internally and externally with data, and transformation and integration in general.

How has it helped my organization?

It gives us high visibility and the ability to transform data. We can move it between different platforms, transform it from one format to another, do encryption and decryption. It is very flexible.

What needs improvement?

With Sterling Integrator, as it comes out of the box, there's not a lot of things that have been developed. A lot of it you have to develop yourself with BPML, and developing of APIs and things like that for web solutions and front end. So I would like to see some other things come out of the box.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I've been using it since 1994-95, starting out with Gentran:Server. It's been around forever and it's very stable, very portable, very flexible.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We can grow it as big as we need it.

How are customer service and technical support?

On a scale of 1-10, there are times technical support is a 9; other times it's a 5.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I've used a number of different tools. We had Connect:Enterprise, which is a tool that is no longer supported; Gentran:Server on mainframe; and we had a Control Center on Linux and Sterling Integrator on another Linux. So we had a number of tools in different categories of our business and just knew that we needed to consolidate and bring everything under one piece of software so that we could manage it better with Connect:Direct, Connect:Enterprise, with encryption and decryption. So it was just a smart solution to put it all under one tool.

How was the initial setup?

There are some gaps that need to be filled in the initial setup. Especially when you're working in a multi-node environment. The issue is with port identification. We have latency issues with the application sometimes and there needs to be more customer visibility from the knowledge side with ways to overcome the latency issues. It took a couple of weeks to get support to provide us with alternatives for using extended ports in a clustered environment.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

There are many other vendors. You have GXS and Data Masons, which is a Microsoft tool that was the vantage point for EDI.

We looked at all of the opportunities out there and came to a decision based on what it offered us now and in the future for integration; what kind of migrations would need to take place, what the timeline would be, how long it would take, how much consulting would be required. So, we looked at all aspects of it.

When selecting a vendor, stability is most important. There are a lot of vendors out there that offer solutions that are gobbled up or they go away or the solution they provide is no longer available. So, IBM offers a lot. Of course, they purchased the B2B application as a part of their portfolio from Sterling Integrator, but IBM is an excellent solution because of the stability of the company.

What other advice do I have?

Really look at what your business needs are and make sure that your business needs and the tool that you are purchasing fits those needs. Just because you've used it in the past, just because you know somebody who's used it in the past, doesn't mean it's a good solution for you. It has to be something that fits the business needs. Where's your business going? What are your future needs? You have to think out of the box. You can't stay in the box in this environment because it is constantly growing and evolving.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
it_user631734 - PeerSpot reviewer
Engineer at First Citizens Bank
Vendor
The business gets all the files for whatever transfers we do and gets them securely.

What is most valuable?

It is the best for the business. How the business gets all the files for whatever transfers we do and getting it securely is one of the biggest benefits of this product.

How has it helped my organization?

It makes money for the bank and then this makes it easy for our customers, i.e., the bank's customers, to send or receive data in a secure manner.

What needs improvement?

A more deeper monitoring system for the product itself is required. Right now, we do use the IBM Control Center for monitoring, which is another IBM monitoring product, but it would be better if they can provide an easy-to-use interface for monitoring purposes.

The interface is too detailed, i.e., if you want to give it to the help desk to just monitor, it doesn't give you a yes / no option nor does it give an alert / no alert option. It just gives too much details for everything. It requires too much customization that we need to do, so as to make the product work to its best.

It is a pretty good product but still a lot of customization is required for each and everything that we do. It gives you a lot of flexibility for a new IT person. However, he has to learn a lot of different ways; it's not just in one way you can configure the product, i.e., the way most of the Microsoft products or any other products would be. That's the only way you can do it. IBM does give you the option to customize in a lot of different ways, which is good, but for new people getting in there, it involves too much learning.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable, it is a good product that you can have.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is also very good; love that.

How are customer service and technical support?

We do use the IBM support all the time. We have a support contract with them, so it is very valuable. We are always able to find the right person and the right solutions.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We were not previously using any other solutions. We are trying to move to the IBM EDI, which is the IBM Transformation Extender. It's an extra IBM ITX product that is what we are trying to use, because that's the bank's requirement/business requirement.

How was the initial setup?

I wasn't involved in the initial setup.

What other advice do I have?

I would definitely recommend this product.

Make sure that you always have the IBM support because being a big product, when getting exposed to the outside world all the time, it has a lot of vulnerabilities that come with it.

It's a great product and should go for it. It will make money for your bank.

The most important criteria while selecting a vendor are costs and stability.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Buyer's Guide
Download our free IBM B2B Integrator Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.
Updated: June 2022
Buyer's Guide
Download our free IBM B2B Integrator Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.