SAP announced this morning that it plans to fully acquire Crossgate. This is good news for the B2B integration sector as it acknowledges I trend that I have been discussing on the EDInomics blog for several years now. B2B integration is becoming increasingly strategic to large corporations. As more and more specialization and outsourcing occur in the value chain there is a stronger need for companies to gather information from their extended ecosystem of business partners (think contract manufacturers, 3rd party logistics providers, component suppliers, channel distributors and freight forwarders). And SAP is not the only one making strategic investments in B2B. In fact, most of the large software and technology powerhouses already have invested in B2B.
SAP – Announced its acquisition of Crossgate today. Over the years, SAP has also maintained a close partnership with Seeburger. Seeburger announced an expansion of its partner program this morning as well, which was timely. SAP’s greatest investment in integration technologies, however, has been in its XI middleware platform which cannot only be used for B2B, but also A2A between ERP applications.
Oracle – In 2008 Oracle acquired BEA whose WebLogic products were highly regarded in the integration space. WebLogic was added to the Oracle Fusion Middleware suite which includes a broad range of service oriented architecture, business process management and data integration technologies. Oracle does have a B2B Gateway although it is not featured as prominently in its marketing efforts.
IBM – Acquired Sterling Commerce in May 2010 providing it with a strong B2B integration server and EDI network. Sterling’s products have become the foundation for IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative. Many of Sterling products are also being merged into IBM’s broader Websphere middleware portfolio. In addition to Sterling, IBM also acquired Cast Iron Systems which offered an appliance technology for the fast growing SaaS integration sector. And last, but not least IBM was also one of the original investors in SaaS-provider E2open during the dot com era.
Microsoft – Leverages its BizTalk Server as the foundation for its middleware and B2B integration strategy. In fact, just yesterday, Microsoft issued an announcement describing how BizTalk can be used for better bank connectivity.
HP – Has been rather quiet lately in the area of B2B integration lately. I suspect the company is busy with the divestiture of its PC business and the shutdown of WebOS. However, HP acquired EDS in 2008, which offers a family of Business Exchange Services for B2B e-commerce and EDI.
Sungard – Doesn’t receive as much credit as it should in B2B. But the $5 billion software and services company operates the Sungard Transaction Network which offers a range of integration services for securities trading and payment processing. Just yesterday, Sungard purchased a SWIFT service bureau in Europe to grow its integration business.
Dell – In November of 2010, Dell acquired Boomi. A leader in the SaaS integration market Boomi helps connect cloud-based applications such as Salesforce.com to traditional behind-the-firewall ERP systems.
Some critics will point out that none of the “cool” companies such as Apple, Google or Amazon.com has made strategic investments in B2B integration. This is true. But, let’s be honest – this stuff is too complex for them anyway.