Requirements for a B2B solution - IBM Websphere

It seems that most businesses have fairly similar requirements relating to the issues of sending data either between applications or between themselves and their trading partners.

The requirements for most B2B scenarios (in all or part) are:

  • Ability to send and receive data
    This data can be structured or unstructured data across a variety of transport protocols, for example Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), File Transfer Protocol (FTP), WebSphere MQ(WMQ), or Java Message Service (JMS).
  • Definable data formats
    Definable message formats allow businesses to communicate with other businesses, with data that might have to travel between different operating systems and programs written in different languages. Having a definable message format also allows for more of a plug-and-play solution so that other businesses or applications can participate in this data sharing. Most B2B applications have the business map their data into a generic data object, which allows for easier manipulation of the data and for easier mapping to other business data formats. It allows for a layer ofabstraction between the data formats of an individual application. It also allows businesses to “plug in” additional business with minimal configuration.
  • Security of data
    Security needs to be available from the time that the data leaves the sending application until it arrives at the receiving application. This security is even more important today with many businesses using their intranet or the Internet as the travel medium.
  • Availability of messaging systems
    Messaging systems need to have a capability for failover or recovery and continuous operations without losing or corrupting any data.
  • Monitoring and auditing capabilities
    The ability to monitor the progress of data through the system is required to provide a user with the ability to see the progress of their data and an administrator with the ability to perform problem or fault investigation and resolution. Auditing capabilities are needed to determine what has been sent or received and what partner was involved.
  • Transactional support
    The decision to commit or back out the changes is made, in the simplest case, at the end of a transaction. However, given the distributed nature of B2B transactions, the concept of transactional support takes on a whole new meaning and level of complexity. The coordination of local transactions and the synchronization of distributed transactions are key issues for data integrity.
  • Performance
    The system must have the ability to scale to handle the growing needs of the business.

Businesses choose the technology that they use based on several criteria:

  • In-house skill
  • Cost to retrain present employees
  • Cost to adopt new technology
  • Cost to integrate new technology
  • Maintenance cost of new technology

For example, if the business has sufficient Java skills in-house, using a Java-based technology might not have a huge impact on the time that is required to implement a project. However, if only COBOL programming skills are available in-house, using a Java solution requires more work and adds expense and time for retraining the programmers.

Does the company not use a Java solution? This answer depends on where the company is planning to go with its solution and how accepting the programmers are to this new technology. Changing from one technology to another is not difficult, but it might require learning a new programming style and using different tools to perform the programming. Companies must choose carefully when adding new functionality and skill to a group. Never choose a technology because it is the new trend in the industry.

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