Hubspan Sees Growth in Cloud-Based Application Integration
April 10, 2012 Alex Woodie
Application integration is one of those IT disciplines that is begging for simplification. Since the early days of networked business computing, the task of keeping data flowing between applications has been a big pain in the IT department–and a giant source of revenue for service providers. It’s also an area that business process service provider Hubspan sees as a big opportunity to address with its cloud-based integration offering.
Hubspan’s flagship platform is a cloud-based integration service called the WebSpan SaaS Integration Platform. The product can be thought of as a hosted EDI translator on steroids. But WebSpan goes beyond moving X12 or AS2 messages across the value-added network (VAN) or the Internet, and its 30,000 endpoints in use regularly involve trading communities like RosettaNet and Ariba; product data synchronization services like GS1; and SOAP- or REST-based Web services.
In fact, the offering can handle just about any type of data common to the financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, distribution, and ecommerce industries through a quiver of connectors and adapters for various ERP and CRM systems. Additionally, Hubspan offers its users a collection of tools for managed file transfer (MFT), data validation, choreography, activity monitoring, and multi-party routing.
While providing point-to-point B2B solutions in the cloud is great, what customers are really looking for is a cloud-based solution to their business process management (BPM) needs, says Tom St. Onge, vice president of business development for Hubspan.
For example, Hubspan can help customers address BPM issues surrounding invoicing. Beyond the simple movement of data, an invoicing solution must address the complete lifecycle of that business process, including the acceptance, review, and ultimate acceptance or rejection of that invoice, as well as the connection points into backend systems. Running the invoicing system “in the cloud” provides certain advantages, St. Onge says.
“The process of how it works from a B2B point of view is what people want to put in the cloud, so everybody can access the same process and the same information,” he tells IT Jungle. “When you take that business process and throw it up in the cloud, the business process actually becomes the product.
“That’s where there’s been a lot of interest in the market,” he continues. “Because we throw that process and integration layer in the cloud, what ends up happening is you don’t have to do point-to-point. You don’t have to worry about all these new applications because the business process layer has an any-to-any approach. We have all the ways people can connect in and out of that process.”
In effect, Hubspan is selling access to a state-of-the-art BPM engine and EAI tool that would take many millions of dollars for a company to build itself. And because WebSpan is used across 30,000 endpoints and processes millions of transactions, it minimizes the scope of unique integration requirements that will require some custom, hands-on attention, he says.
Lately, Hubspan has been seeing a lot of growth from its partners. Instead of a direct-sales model, where a customer signs on to the WebSpan cloud, Hubspan’s business partners will use WebSpan under the covers, and use it to do BPM and transaction messaging over the Internet. This is where the delivery of BPM as just another component of a cloud-based business offering can really make a lot of sense.
One of Hubspan’s most promising OEM customers these days is Ariba. The company, once a dot-com darling of the early 21st century, today is a leading provider of so-called “spend management” solutions. In effect, Ariba runs a network that connects upward of 730,000 companies and provides them a uniform way of managing their invoicing, purchase orders, payment processing, procurement, punch-outs, and contract management requirements.
That’s right up Hubspan’s alley, which is why the relationship between the Seattle, Washington-based company and Ariba has been growing. Two weeks ago, Hubspan announced that since the partnership commenced in 2010, the monthly volume of Ariba transactions has increased by a factor of five.
“The whole business we have with Ariba is growing,” says St. Onge, adding that Hubspan has worked directly with some of the Ariba customers to onboard them into WebSpan. There is a particularly brisk business in regions of the world where companies don’t have previous investments in integration middleware.
For these types of companies with blank integration slates, so to speak, the advantages of using the cloud are plain. As the technology advances and people become more comfortable with cloud services, much of the down-and-dirty application and data integration work will be delivered as a cloud service, freeing people to pursue more productive things.