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After I read that SAP purchased Crossgate, a leading provider of hosted B2B integration services, I immediately tweeted

 

Now, I’m definitely not an SAP NetWeaver Process Integration (PI) expert but I was curious as to what would motivate SAP to make this move at this particular point of time. The press release had a very general description of SAP’s reasoning behind the purchase.

By acquiring Crossgate’s highly differentiated solution, we help our customers extend their end-to-end business processes running on SAP to their customers and partners. As a result, thousands of SAP customers will join the network to exchange information easier, execute transactions faster and collaborate better.

Other analysts, such as Jason Busch, viewed the acquisition in terms of the competition with Ariba in the P2P market.  

SAP is no doubt creating a network offering that balances market-parity functional network capability and a level of integration into native back-end systems with a broad supplier reach that is designed to directly challenge Ariba for network supremacy in the P2P market.” And now with Crossgate soon to be under SAP’s firm control, it’s likely the battle for network victory will accelerate. [SOURCE

But I wasn’t satisfied. I started digging and found a very interesting presentation entitled “Understanding SAP’s Strategy forCloud Computing (SaaS/PaaS/IaaS)” from Darren Crowder (Director – Global CoE – Technology Platform & Innovation).  The slides below are from Darren and were presented at a conferencein the UK.

Note: The slides were created in July 2011 when there was already a very tight relationship between SAP and Crossgate but the acquisition had yet to occur.  

Of the most interest to me in this slide deck was the detailed description of a new offering called Integration-as-a-Service (INTaaS).  Important to note is that NetWeaver PI doesn’t disappear on account of this new service – I make this assumption based on the slide’s description of the possible synergies between the OnDemand and OnPremise worlds.

Figure 1: Integration as a Service

 

The integration possibilities for INTaaS in Business ByDesign use cases are intriguing to consider, especially if you consider the market focus of ByDesign on the SME market.  If you could bundle both offerings together, you might provide smaller companies with an easy entry point for both types of services.  The integration needs of users of other SAP SME products (Business One, etc) may also be met by this new offering. 

I was also impressed by the inclusion of the appropriate use cases for the new service at such an early stage.  Such descriptions – often missing when SAP is fine-tuning the marketing message for such innovations – assist existing customers to understand the potential of new technology. 

The next slide, however, provided me the information for which I had been searching.  It described the relevant use cases for Integration-as-a-Service, NetWeaver PI and, surprise-surprise, Crossgate.  

Figure 2: Comparison of A2A and B2B Integration

 

Thus, there is a connection between SAP’s OnDemand strategy and the Crossgate purchase. Crossgate’s e-invoicing solution is also cloud-based with a strong regional focus (for example, specialized solutions for Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, etc) and nicely complements other SAP OnDemand products. Inasmuch as there is already a Crossgate offering for Business ByDesign, I’ll be waiting to see how much of the Crossgate technology is integrated into other existing offerings (for example, Sourcing OnDemand) in one form or another.  

Conclusion 

I have no idea what the technological basis of the INTaaS will be. Based on the recent change combining SAP PI and SAP BPM on one platform in one Java deployment, I assume that this new OnDemand platform will also run on the new SAP PaaS (jPaaS).  If this is true, then HANA could also become involved which would mean better performance.    The use of the PaaS may also be one step into having a  Business Process Management (BPM) as a Service (BPMaaS) offering. 

The INTaaS will also be very interesting as the Internet of Thingscontinues to expand and grow in importance.  The slide above distinguishes between Application-to-Application and Business-to-Business transactions. I envision that there will soon be Thing-to-Thing category as well. 

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5 Comments

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  1. Jonathan Wilson
    Hi Richard,

    I was looking to see if I could find any reference to INTaaS at TechEd Las Vegas.  The place I would have expected to see it mentioned would have been PMC200 (SAP Middleware Solutions & Best Practices) as this session covered the positioning for:

    – Process Orchestration (i.e. PI + BPM)
    – Information Interchange (II) by CrossGate
    – Gateway
    – Manufacturing Intelligence and Integration (MII)
    – Data Services
    – Event Insight

    I find it strange that it wasn’t mentioned in this context, and the conclusion I draw from this is that INTaaS is purely concept only at this stage.  My guess is that following the acquisition of CrossGate, this is the most likely platform for INTaaS (as opposed to jPaaS), as it represents a more general A2A use case for which Information Interchange now provides the specific B2B examples.

    Of course, I’m just speculating here, and look forward to seeing more details from SAP in regards to the acquisition and the deployment of INTaaS.  Thanks for yet another thought provoking blog.

    Cheers,
    Jon (@integrationer)

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    1. Richard Hirsch Post author
      Interesting point regarding using Crossgate as the basis for INTaaS instead of jPaaS. I don’t know enough about Crossgate to know about its technical architecture but it might also be able to run on the jPaaS. Of course, we have to distinguish between the e-Invoicing offering which is already cloud-based and the other products that were acquired by the acquisition. I don’t know how easy it is to port these other apps to an OnDemand environment.

      D. 

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  2. Somnath Manna
    Is this a pointer to SAP’s Inorganic Growth strategy. During SAPPHIRE 2011 I came across Hubwoo another cloud-based P2P vendor. Will it be next in tow after CrossGate. Then there is Vistex for Incentive Management, SmartOps for enterprise-wide Safety Stock management to name a couple I know of. Would not be surprised if these get acquired. In recent past the bigger acquisitions are Business Objects, Sybase along with mid-sized specialist ones like Tomorrow Now, Yasu Technologies, Lighthammer.

    Somnath

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