Benoit Lheureux

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Benoit J. Lheureux
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
31 years IT industry

Benoit Lheureux is a research VP in Gartner Research and agenda manager for the Application Infrastructure group. He focuses on three areas: application integration, middleware and B2B e-commerce, with the emphasis on the latter. Read Full Bio

Liaison Acquires Hubspan — And Other B2B Claim Stakes

by Benoit Lheureux  |  August 23, 2012  |  2 Comments

In recent years the B2B market segment has been fairly active — see Update on The B2B Frenzy and IBM Acquires Sterling Commerce — And Ups the Ante on B2B. Activity tends to occur in waves, and the last few months have been very active:

  • Liaison Acquired Hubspan — this week.  Anyone following this provider closely knows that it has consistently acquired one or two providers a year for about ten years now to incrementally expand market-share, customers and technology. This acquisition (like many others) was symbiotic — both providers focus on large B2B projects, often involving customization, and of late had increasing focused on cloud integration. I’ve previously noted both provider’s focus on cloud-related B2B projects (see Who’s Who in Cloud Services Brokerage), thus I interpret Liaison’s move here as doubling-down on cloud.
  • E2open IPO — on NASDAQ about a month ago. While its stock performance so far has been lackluster, raising capital does improve E2open’s ability to pursue market-share growth and to expand its vertical industries and international footprint. E2open’s is the 2nd B2B IPO in as many years (see SPS Commerce, below), and I see it as an expression of confidence, finally exposing its business and differentiated B2B value-proposition (see Oracle and E2open Deploy BPN to Simplify B2B for Global Transport Processes) to the pubic after years of operating somewhat under the radar.
  • SPS Acquired Edifice — This acquisition in May strengthened SPS Commerce’s B2B offerings in Retail via the addition of POS analytics to its existing POS Data Service. While not a high-impact acquisition, per se, it is consistent with SPS Commerce’ long-established focus on Retail, incrementally grows SPS Commerce’s SaaS portfolio, and effectively utilizes capital raised in its 2010 IPO (see SPS Commerce Will Wield Its IPO Like a Sword, But Not Lethally, in the Battle for B2B). Like Eopen, SPS Commerce IPO’d specifically for capital to more aggressively pursue market-share, et al.
  • SAP Acquired Ariba — SAP announced this in May (soon to close). It provocatively follows its September 2011 acquisition of Crossgate (see The SAP Acquisition of Crossgate Has the Potential to Rock B2B Markets), giving SAP now not just one but two distinct yet somewhat overlapping B2B networks. By doubling-down its clear that SAP sees “APP” + “B2B” as an important business process network value-proposition — and it has already tightly integrated Crossgate into relevant application modules. But we still have yet to see how it will reconcile its two new B2B networks.

Collectively, these activities represent decisive B2B claim stakes — on innovation, market-share, cloud, multienterprise processes, etc. We’ll be publishing detailed analysis on these events, soon. In the meantime, buckle your seat-belts and hold-on — from all the interest I see from our clients its pretty clear that B2B is hot and will continue to be fun to watch.

- BJL

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Category: B2B Business Process Networks Cloud Cloud Computing EDI Integration SaaS Integration     Tags:

Internal CSB Role Creates New Value for IT Org

by Benoit Lheureux  |  August 22, 2012  |  2 Comments

Here in Australia at our AADI event I just hosted an “analyst user round-table” (think: analyst-facilitated IT Leader discussion) on the topic of cloud services brokerage. Was a small, passionate-about-talking-cloud group of folks — without knowing it we ran 15 minutes long on a 45 minute session and the Events staff eventually kicked us out of the room. :-)

One “finding” (think: insight or conclusion) about CSB from one of the participants was quite interesting to me because it echoed a similar position that we’ve just recently published in Internal CSB Role Is Emerging Within IT Organizations: that assuming the CSB role — in their case in the form of integration brokerage in particular to address emerging SaaS to on-premise integration requirements — has increased the value of the IT organization to their company overall and line-of-business groups in particular that were adopting SaaS, which were ill-equipped to handle those requirements. Such new cloud skills and perceived “value” can be a big boost for IT organizations that are otherwise challenged to help their companies embrace cloud.

A few other points worth noting:

First, this particular IT group (and another attendee too) was very clear that they accepted full responsibility via the Internal CSB role for delivery of cloud services to various IT groups throughout the company. Secondly, they clearly segregated that responsibility from who was responsible for *implementation*, in this case for SaaS integration projects that they outsourced to a local system integrator. Finally, its also noteworthy that they are leveraging a US-based iPaaS provider (not identified here to avoid the appearance of promoting them) to support a combination of internal and SaaS integration projects.

The last point is noteworthy because while integration development work occurs in the cloud, this provider allows integration run-time logic to be deployed on-premise (as an alternative to running in the cloud — the customer can choose which approach best serves their needs). Turns out another participant in the AUR session was in the process of considering a similar iPaaS deployment model, though with a different provider.

These were interesting Findings, both on their own merits and in particular when you consider that cloud adoption in Australia (as I’ve been led to believe from talking to clients and vendors) is off to a bit of a modest start. But perhaps not for the good folks I met with here today in my AUR session — they were a cloud-savvy group, and I really enjoyed our lively CSB discussion!

- bjl

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1,000 Gartner Clients Served (!)

by Benoit Lheureux  |  July 11, 2012  |  1 Comment

Yesterday I completed a call on the topic of EDI and B2B integration with a client and coincidentally also achieved a professional milestone: the client, La-Z-Boy Inc. (named with permission — thank you!), was the 1,000th Gartner client I’ve served :-)

Rather than mark the event by ringing a bell, introducing live-band music and showering our client with ticker-tape (which, in retrospect, would have been kind of fun),  I thought I’d offer a few thoughts about what this milestone means to me and, more  importantly, our clients and the B2B scenarios that they’re involved in.

Clients either choose me by name or their request for advice is routed to me because the client’s desired IT topic — typically involving some combination of business-to-business integration, eCommerce and (more recently also) cloud services brokerage — is perceived by our client services organization to be a good fit for my skills. Advising 1,000 different clients over 10+ years tells me that B2B is a high-impact, enduring IT phenomenon. The fact that I’ve served 250 new clients since December 1st, 2009 — when I served my 750th Gartner client — also tells me that B2B remains as important today as it ever was.

But that’s no surprise, right?

Thousands of organizations world-wide do B2B! And many of these IT projects are complex and enduring, thus about 4 out of 5 of my calls are with clients that I’ve served before as I offer advice along the full life-cycle of their B2B-related IT projects. This ranges from initial conception and development of B2B strategy through B2B solution/vendor selection to pricing and project metrics. Clients still need to know about the basics, like what organizational and technical approaches to B2B work, which solutions to use, and which B2B standards matter. Or insight into more sophisticated B2B issues, such as how they can increase collaboration with external business partners on complex multi-enterprise processes. Or how B2B projects will be impacted by cloud computing, evolving application portfolios, mobile/social computing, and the need for better operational intelligence. And clients would like to know how B2B providers are responding to these changes, and which are more likely to survive.

The bottom line is that B2B projects are getting ever more complicated, even as they proliferate. Thus, there’s still a growing need for advice on B2B projects. I’m grateful to La-Z-Boy and the 999 other Gartner clients who’ve entrusted me (and my many colleagues who also cover this topic from different points of view) for their confidence and business. B2B has been a good run, and even with the advent of cloud computing, et al, it looks like it will continue to be a fun topic to follow for the foreseeable future.

- bjl

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Category: B2B Cloud Computing Cloud Services Brokerage CSB Ecommerce Integration Integration Brokerage Multienterprise Applications     Tags:

Are Nine Solution Patterns for Integration Brokerage Enough?

by Benoit Lheureux  |  March 13, 2012  |  Comments Off

When is enough, enough?

Yesterday I published research that enumerates and describes nine different integration brokerage  (IB) solution patterns — Integration Brokerage Solution Patterns Address Many Integration Problems (subscription required). For those not familiar with the term “integration brokerage”, its a form of IT outsourcing for integration project implementation and management — think: Managed Services for any combination of EDI / B2B / SaaS integration projects. In the research we illustrate, describe, identify adoption drivers and forecast each solution pattern. The nine IB solution patterns are:

  • IB for B2B E-Commerce, Supplier Integration, e.g., a retailer / manufacturer connecting to its suppliers
  • IB for B2B E-Commerce, Customer Integration, e.g., a supplier / manufacturer connecting to its customers
  • IB for ERP (Application/SaaS) Extension, e.g., taking orders directly into my ERP (B2B as a feature of ERP)
  • IB for Data Synchronization, i.e., publishing supplier product info through a regional data pool to buyers
  • IB for International Electronic Invoicing, i.e., automation, compliance for international electronic invoices
  • IB for Infrastructure Modernization — think: “I’ve got 10 B2B hubs in my company — help! Consolidate them.
  • IB for Small to Midsize B2B Projects — “I gotta do EDI for a few doz partners but I don’t wanna to do it myself”
  • IB for Internal (A2A) Integration Projects — “You’re kiddin’ me, right?” (yeah, real, but early adoption phase)
  • IB for Cloud Services Brokerage, i.e., knitting Cloud/SaaS functionality with on-premise Apps and data (big!)

Despite the fact this research *just* published I’ve been musing over other use case scenarios. The role of IB and intermediation in shared multienterprise applications and processes. Connecting companies to MRO  supplier networks. Managing B2B traffic between electric car fueling stations, utilities and customers. Heavy-lifting data, e.g,. MFT for retail POS data, healthcare lab data, etc. Often companies, consortia, providers, etc., run their own B2B networks, and do all the integration themselves. That’s fine. But sometimes they won’t or can’t bother with it. As “Big Data” proliferates, as B2B processes become more complex, as companies continue to focus on core competencies, sometimes it will simply make sense to let someone else manage the integration.

Integration has evolved from being a First Class IT Citizen — it isn’t hot like Social, Cloud, et al — to becoming more of just an assumed core competency. Of course you’re good at integration, right? Integration is like security — an arcane skill, no “IT sex appeal”, a lot of Devil in the Detail — but you still must absolutely, positively get it right for success (and survival). Nowadays if you execute well you can be successful either implementing integration projects yourself — the integration software is really mature — or by outsourcing — so too have integration service providers matured.  You’re going to be doing a LOT of integration — I’ve identified nine project patterns — and counting. (Any missing?) Which will you want to do yourself? Which not?

 

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Category: B2B Cloud Cloud Services Brokerage Cloud Services Integration CSB Ecommerce EDI Integration Integration Brokerage SaaS Integration Uncategorized     Tags:

Your ‘Throat to Choke’ For Cloud Consumption – Cloud Services Brokerage – Is Within Reach

by Benoit Lheureux  |  December 13, 2011  |  1 Comment

Every company that consumes Cloud services from multiple providers must address a simple multi-sourcing decision: “Who’s throat are you going to choke”?  CSB is not always the answer since many companies can and will consume cloud directly. No problem. But for companies that lack — or don’t want to be responsible for — Cloud-native technology, skills, and methodologies, Cloud services brokerage can help.

A key take-away from our recently published CSB Special Report (subscription required) is that in 2011 there was a proliferation of end-user interest in CSB and IT solutions leveraging CSB. In Cloud Services Brokerage Proliferates we introduce the following research:

This new research — published in corraboration with analysts across a wide range of Gartner research communities and core topic areas — builds upon our fast-growing body of CSB research. A complete list with brief descriptions for all the CSB research that we’ve published over the last three years is available here.

Here are some additional year-end 2011 take-aways from this year’s CSB research and our many client discussions:

  • Cloud computing overall and CSB in particular is a high-impact scenario that will affect the entire $865m IT services industry.
  • The three primary CSB roles are CSB aggregation, integration and customization brokerage, although there are other CSB roles (e.g., CSB arbitrage).
  • Proliferating B2B integration modernization projects – which often require investments in new software and skills – are driving adoption of integration brokerage.
  • Consumer adoption of the CSB role is proliferating overall, but intermediation is not necessarily required or appropriate for every company and Cloud project.
  • The CSB role is rapidly being incorporated into IT services including consulting and system integration, application services, BPO/BPU, and B2B ecommerce.
  • Deployment of multienterprise applications – which often requires combined B2B SaaS and integration services offerings – is driving CSB utilization.
  • CSB aggregation, integration and customization can help companies to implement innovative  multienterprise processes – e.g., see Mohawk case study above.

In 2011 we sought to further improve our definition and understanding of the emerging CSB scenario and deliver ever more specific and actionable research. In 2012 we’ll continue along this same trajectory – see Daryl Plummer’s latest CSB blog post for some thoughts about where he expects CSB to go in 2012. I’m looking forward to actively pursuing this line of research in 2012 and working with our clients, providers and my colleagues to further refine and deepen our understanding of the CSB phenomenon.

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Cloud: Proceed With Caution — Brokerages Can Help

by Benoit Lheureux  |  June 20, 2011  |  3 Comments

July 19th update — updated below with reference to 2nd of two CSB case studies, on Mohawk – bjl

June 28th update — updated below with reference to 1st of two CSB case studies, just published — bjl

————————————————— Original post follows:

I’ve just returned to the US from London where we held our annual Application Architecture, Development & Integration Summit event, which this year prominantly featured a lot of research on cloud computing. One of my sessions was on cloud services brokerage, which I kicked-off with this picture:

It’s for a street I’d not seen before in a recently developed part of Phoenix, AZ (search for “Cloud Road, Queen Creek, AZ” in Google Maps). I took the pic right before my London trip, on my drive home after picking up dinner for my wife and I. She knows I cover Cloud computing and that I’m fond of metaphors so when I showed her the pic she immediately asked, “so, … are you running with ‘Stop!’ — or ‘Go!’?” Pithy, but indeed — which?

But it’s not like we have much choice, do we? Whether you believe the Gartner Cloud computing forcast (this and other Gartner research references require a subscription) or have simply been ‘following the money’ in the increasing supply-side investment in and — more importantly — IT consumer spend on cloud computing, it’s clear that answer is ‘Go!’. But the recent problems reported by many companies including respected organizations such as Amazon and Sony has many folks also calling for a ‘Stop!’ along the way to re-assess the risk / benefit trade-offs of this new IT consumption model. Nevertheless, there’s no compelling evidence that cloud computing adoption will be substantially inhibited by such IT (and mass consumer) ‘growing pains’. While no silver bullet for IT, Cloud computing is certainly here to stay and we expect rapid adoption to continue.

So what about my point above about “re-assessing the risk” of cloud computing adoption? One aspect of this is simple: if you need help, who are you gonna call?

Increasingly, system integrators, value-added resellers, B2B e-commerce and various other IT service providers are being tasked with answering this call. By creating new cloud-centric IT service offerings or cloud capabilities for traditional IT service offerings many IT service providers are quickly assuming the cloud services brokerage role — see Cool Vendors in Cloud Services Brokerage, 2011.

Particularly in B2B ecommerce we’ve created a roadmap for providers to add the cloud services brokerages to their traditional B2B role. These providers are competing ever more aggressively to consolidate the traditional B2B integration services market and to better position themselves to also deliver cloud services brokerage. Some noteworthy events in 1H11 include:

On the consumption side of cloud services brokerage I’m having ever more discussions with clients who are looking for help on IT projects that involve a combination of traditional e-commerce integration and cloud services consumption. For example, in London I spoke with an architect from a European manufacturer. We first talked about traditional e-commerce B2B, then about SaaS integration — and then we talked about (to his surprise) the viability of single-sourcing a solution for both requirements from a B2B provider that was also a CSB. No, really.

And there-in lies the rub, doesn’t it? While most companies have a pretty good idea of what solutions are available to them for traditional e-commerce, few clearly understand what approaches are available to address SaaS integration. Even fewer, still, know how solutions like integration PaaS and cloud services brokerage can help. My colleague, Massimo Pezzini, has taken the lead on our iPaaS research to advise companies who prefer a technical (‘do it yourself’) approach to SaaS integration, and I’ve re-focused nearly all my attention on the IT services (‘outsourced’) approach, aka CSB.

We’ve already published a pretty good CSB body of research, addressing such basics such as our CSB definition, reference model, vendor landscape, etc. But we need to make it more ‘real’ — we need examples. Thus I’m happy to report that in the next couple of weeks we’ll be publishing two CSB case studies:

I’m grateful to both organizations for the time they’ve spent with me to understand their business, the problem they were solving, and the role that CSB had in helping address that and their adoption of cloud computing. These bits of research will provide insight into the CSB role and begin answering the cloud computing challenge question above — when you need help, who are you gonna call? In 3Q11 Daryl Plummer and I will also publish our 2nd annual CSB special report in which we’ll cast more light on CSB use case scenarios, the CSB landscape, the role of CSB in the cloud services value chain, etc.

So, yes, ‘Go!’ — cloud computing is here to stay. But, ‘Stop!’ — if you’re like many companies cloud computing will be a bit tricky to tackle alone. CSB can help.

Cheers,

– bjl

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Category: B2B Cloud Cloud Computing Cloud Services Brokerage Cloud Services Integration CSB Ecommerce Integration Brokerage SaaS Integration     Tags:

EDI is HOT. No, really!

by Benoit Lheureux  |  March 25, 2011  |  8 Comments

File this under “random datapoints on B2B”, or “things that make you go, ‘hmmmmm’…”

In the last few days I’ve had 3 research inquiries with Gartner clients on the IT topic:  EDI.

And I mean, very specifically, “EDI”. Here’s the actual “Subject” submitted by clients captured from of our internal Gartner research inquiry tracking tool …

… which reveals that the actual client-specified subject for the research inquiry was, in fact, simply “EDI”. As it also had two other times in the last week. And as it comes up at least a few times a month throughout the year, as it has every year since the late 1990’s.

Just to be clear in the last few days — like all year ’round — I actually did a *bunch* of other calls on EDI, and of course calls on related topics such as B2B, Cloud services integration, integration managed services, cloud services brokerage and that sort of thing. But usually the subject line for the research inquiry will be something a bit more specific like “Help with EDI translator upgrade”, “EDI contract renewal”, “EDI standards”, “Leading EDI vendors”, “How to integrate EDI with SaaS”, “Modernizing EDI”, or that sort of thing.

But just “EDI” — I mean *E* *D* *I* — really? I mean, is that IT-Sexy — like Cloud? Um, well … definitely not. But it is, remarkably, still IT Hot. Let me explain.

First, there’s something about a request to discuss just simply “EDI” that is powerfully crisp and pithy. And reveals the underlying assumptions of the person who submitted the research inquiry request. I *love* taking these calls! I am amused by the presumption that simply saying “EDI” says it all. That everything I do professionally (well, at least part of what I do) can be distilled into a 3-letter acronym. But in fact “EDI” is rich with meaning — and my upcoming call with a client on that topic has the potential to take any number of deep, related drill down topics. Will the client want to discuss EDI standards? Do they wanna “do” EDI? Meaning, possibly translation. Possibly exchanging EDI transactions with trading partners. Or possibly instrumenting EDI? Perhaps they just need help short-listing EDI vendors. Or modernizing their EDI infrastructure. Or identifying useful EDI metrics. 

More likely even if they don’t know it the client is *really* asking about “B2B”. Think about it. Go up and replace every occurrance of “EDI” in the prior paragraph with “B2B” — and you’ll see that the topic both embraces and extends EDI into the world of XML, REST, Cloud computing, et al. Many “EDI” calls ultimately *become* calls about EDI + B2B + Cloud.

The fact is, I’m happy either way. EDI stand-alone. EDI to B2B to Cloud. Cloud to EDI (!) — no, really — ever more of my Cloud discussions in fact ultimate lead — in *back to the future* fashion — back to EDI. Watch carefully for announcement from innovative Cloud providers that will be offering — shock! — direct EDI support. Whoosh!

Look: for any *greenfield* IT project of course I’d recommend more innovative approaches and I’ve even predicted their emergence. But you gotta be realistic — and in any well established B2B community EDI is ubitquitous — and it works. It still delivers value to business because it automates B2B processes — and can be instrumented to help drive process improvement. What’s not to like about that?

Bottom line: EDI remains — and will remain for years to come — a high impact, valueable asset to business. More innovative approaches should be used for greenfield projects but EDI is a well-established approach that is still a vital component of most companies overall B2B strategy, and easily contributes to B2B, cloud computing, business intelligence, et al.

In other words EDI is — dare I say it? — still HOT.

No, really!

- bjl

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How Many SaaS Apps – and Trading Partners — Are YOU Integrating?

by Benoit Lheureux  |  January 31, 2011  |  2 Comments

I have been having more discussions with clients lately about integrating SaaS functionality from multiple providers. One recently described integrating five different SaaS applications. Many IT-savvy clients leverage a combination of on-premise or cloud-based integration technology to implement the solution themselves (e.g., using Boomi, IBM, Informatica, iWay, Jitterbit, Microsoft, Pervasive, WebSphere, Tibco, etc.). Although these projects include cloud services these are often nevertheless still perceived as “A2A integration” because the application functionality, e.g., HR, procurement, payroll, benefits, order management, etc., are considered an extension of “internal” IT infrastructure.

A recurring theme with users integrating multiple SaaS applications is whether to put the integration solution ‘center of gravity’ on-premise – or in the cloud. And whether to implement the solution themselves – or with the help of an external provider. Building upon our recent special report on cloud services brokerage we’ll deliver more research on the outsourcing option in 2011. For example, we just published our definition of integration brokerage [subscription required], a form of IT outsourcing focused on Cloud services integration often delivered via cloud services brokerage. B2B integration specialists (e.g., IBM, GXS, Hubspan, Liaison) and cloud-focused system integrators (e.g., Appirio, Bluewolf, Celigo) offer cloud services brokerage.

Most integration brokerage is still delivered in conjunction with traditional ecommerce supply chain integration, e.g., typically you turn over customer or supplier integration project to a B2B integration specialist or system integrator who implements and runs that for you. Some integration brokerage is delivered in conjunction with SaaS – for example you may have a system integrator doing SaaS integration in conjunction with some custom SaaS development. I am interested in hearing from those of you with integration projects that involve both traditional ecommerce integration *and* SaaS integration. Perhaps you implemented order management as SaaS – and now need to get orders electronically from your customers. Are you addressing this with integration technology or integration brokerage?

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Category: B2B Cloud Cloud Computing Cloud Services Brokerage Cloud Services Integration CSB Integration Brokerage SaaS Integration     Tags:

2011 Predictions for Integration, B2B and Cloud Services Brokerage

by Benoit Lheureux  |  January 10, 2011  |  4 Comments

In the run-up to Year-End 2010 my colleagues and I published our annual 2011 Predicts reports, featuring a wide range of predictions related to integration, B2B and cloud computing.

These Predicts 2011 Reports include (subscription required):

These reports are chock full of predictions and detailed analysis — I hope you saw them. But in case you were a bit too busy with your own year-end activities to see these reports I’ve summarized a few choice bits here that underscore some of the fundamental changes in IT that are affecting companies that do B2B integration and are adopting Cloud services.

Select Strategic Planning Assumptions:

By 2014, the CSB vendor landscape will have grown from dozens to hundreds of providers.

Daryl Plummer and I have already identified a few dozen providers that deliver some form of CSB offering, but we believe that the proliferation of cloud adoption, combined with challenges of consuming cloud services for their IT users, will create demand for more CSB offerings to help facilitate consumption. In case the concept of CSB is new to you, we just recently published a bunch of research on CSB in our Special Report on Cloud Service Brokerages.

By 2015, 40% of integration projects involving A2A, B2B, MFT and cloud services will be implementing with one IT solution.

My colleagues and I predict that over time companies increasingly will use just one integration product or service to address all forms of application integration. This is because users increasingly wish to single-source their product or service to address various integration problems. In response, IT providers are doing substantial R&D and mergers and acquisitions, such that they can increasingly offer consolidated integration solutions that address A2A, B2B, MFT, service-oriented architecture (SOA) and cloud integration project requirements.

By 2015, 50% of “Integration as a Service” (IaaS) will be consumed as an embedded feature of other IT offerings.

Today, we estimate that over 90% of IaaS functionality is consumed directly by IT users or IT services providers as a stand-alone solution for traditional e-commerce or cloud integration requirements. But we believe that over time, IaaS will increasingly be embedded and consumed in conjunction with other IT solutions — for example, as an embedded feature of ERP, SaaS, PaaS, Integration Brokerage, iPaaS or cloud services brokerages (CSBs).

What All This Means

As companies do more ecommerce B2B integration and consume more cloud services they will be looking for more complete and more highly evolved forms of B2B products and services to help them achieve their IT and business goals. Consolidated integration solutions, embedded integration, and Cloud services brokerage are examples of how IT solutions are evolving to meet more demanding IT user requirements.

In 2011 my colleagues and I are substantially evolving our B2B research agenda which, amongst other things, will increase our emphasis on these areas of innovation. What can you expect from us in 2011?

  • Look for research on “integration brokerage”, an evolved form of managed services for B2B/EDI that is relevant to both traditional ecommerce and cloud computing projects. I am putting the final touches on a 2011 research plan for my colleagues and I to address how the market is evolving, how to choose vendors, etc.
  • Look for research on “integration platform as a service” (iPaaS), an evolved form of integration as a service (IaaS) that delivers a hybrid combination of integration, governance, security and other interoperability capabilities delivered in the Cloud to link applications, SOA services and Cloud services. in 2011 Massimo Pezzini will lead a group of analysts including myself in an active 2011 research agenda on this concept.
  • Look for more research on Cloud services brokerage, a form of Cloud-enabled IT services offering specifically designed to aggregate and add value to proliferating Cloud services. Besides individual research throughout the year Daryl Plummer and I and other contributors will publish another special report later in the year.

I’ve been covering B2B integration with Gartner for over 10 years and its been a good run (you can find abstracts for most of my research online here — yeah I know it ain’t pretty, but its efficient). I’ve helped users and vendors navigate and adapt to fundamental changes in B2B before, e.g., when B2B software emerged and when the EDI VANs evolved into Integration Service Providers. But the changes to B2B occurring now — driven by Cloud computing, IT consolidation, outsourcing and vendor M&A activity — are having a higher impact on B2B than anything I’ve ever seen before.

Which is why we’re making so many changes to our research. You’ve gotta adapt. We’ve gotta adapt. That’s the consequence of perpetual innovation. But in the end we’ll get through these changes — too — together. :-)

Cheers and Happy New Year!

- bjl

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Category: B2B Cloud Cloud Computing Cloud Services Cloud Services Brokerage Cloud Services Integration CSB Ecommerce EDI IaaS Integration SaaS Integration Uncategorized     Tags:

Cloud Services Brokerages: The Dawn of the Next Intermediation Age

by Benoit Lheureux  |  November 8, 2010  |  1 Comment

 What do you believe?

Will every company on earth *always* consume Cloud services directly?

Governance. Integration. Security. Just a few of the issues companies must address when consuming Cloud services (not the easier browser-based services, the more sophisticated API-based Cloud services — for an example checkout http://developer.force.com/).

Before you object, … YES … I get it. One of the great things about Cloud computing is just that — the massive proliferation and promiscuous consumption of Cloud services. Innovation. Mashups. Cloud sourcing. Et al. I really get it!

But … despite the wonderful innovative opportunities that Cloud services consumption delivers to business it is still very technical, fraught with non-trivial regulatory and compliance issues, and — at the end of the day — at lest some companies are going to want and need help (think: services).

Gartner’s Cloud services forecast heralds a new age of IT where on-premise and Cloud-based business functionality will thrive and co-exist. And by necessity Cloud services will also heralds a new age of intermediation. Cloud services brokerages will help many companies to leverage Cloud computing.

Daryl Plummer and I, along with a bunch of colleagues, have published a special report on Cloud services brokerage soon to be featured on Gartner.com. The landing page for the CSB special report will be up soon but all of the research is already available so I’m posting the list here for anyone who is interested. Once the special report landing page is up I’ll post that link here too.

I’ve been doing or covering B2B most all my professional life. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not prone to hyperbole. But, indeed, even if there are some tie-ins to the way things have been done in the past Cloud computing B2B is different than traditional ecommerce B2B.

More to come. For a taste, checkout Daryl’s related blog on Cloudstreams

This is going to be fun… :)

- BJL

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