Over the next several weeks, I'm going to give an overview of the products that are in the IBM® B2B Integration track and explain how they work together and what they do.
The image below is my version of the layers of B2B and data integration.
At the very bottom of the totem pole, is the map. A map is what identifies which data in the input or source is going to be moved to the output or destination and where it is going to go. A mapper has the capability to execute instructions based on rules. For example, if you are receiving a ship notice, you may only want to capture the delivery date and not the ship date and purchase order date. You would create a rule that would check for the delivery date and only move that one to the output. A mapper also has the capability to cross-reference data, such as converting a customer SKU to your internal product code.
Way back in the day, when I was mapping on the mainframe, the mapper and translator was a combined product (Gentran:Basic for z/OS, Gentran:Server for iSeries, and WebSphere Data Interchange still operate this way). Since that time, many companies have pulled the mapper out so it is a standalone product. The map is developed on a client and the compiled map is uploaded to whatever platform you process on…a modularized approach.
This modular approach is the strategy that IBM has announced they will be taking with all of their B2B integration products.
Let's start by looking at the different mapping products. Currently, there are three main mapping products.
IBM Transformation Extender (ITX)
Transformation Extender (formerly WebSphere Transformation Extender or WTX) provides mapping of non-standard files such as flat and database files. IBM has packs available that can add capabilities for mapping standards based files. These packs are for financial services, healthcare, and supply chain industries which provide out-of-the-box capabilities for X12, EDIFACT, NACHA, SWIFT, HIPAA, etc.
Transformation Extender can be called/run from several of IBM's other products such as such as IBM Transformation Extender Advanced (formerly Standards Processing Engine or SPE), IBM Integration Bus (formerly WebSphere Message Broker), and WebSphere Partner Gateway (WPG).
Transformation Extender is offered in four editions. Each of the editions enables Transformation Extender to be executed in different ways such as through a command line, script, triggers, or APIs.
Application Integration (AI)
AI is used with Sterling Gentran:Server for UNIX, Sterling Gentran:Server for Microsoft Windows, and Sterling Gentran:Director Application Integration. Although it can map any-to-any data format maps, it was specifically designed for B2B transactions such as X12 and EDIFACT.
I wanted to make a note about an older mapper that many Gentran:Server for UNIX users still use today which is the Visual Mapper. The Visual Mapper was used with Gentran:Server for UNIX version 5.3 and earlier. The Application Integration mapper is sold with later versions of Gentran:Server for UNIX. The Visual Maps do not convert to Application Integration maps and need to be remapped or converted using a product such as X-Link.
B2B Integrator Map Editor
This mapper is identical to the Gentran Application Integration product. There are differences when creating a map, such as the choosing the map function as Sterling B2B Integrator, but the mapping capabilities and user interface are the same.
Both Gentran AI and the B2B Integrator Map Editor were acquired by IBM when they purchased Sterling Commerce back in 2010.
Transformation Extender is IBM's Universal Transformation tool. IBM has added the capability to deploy and run Transformation Extender maps from B2B Integrator as well as deploy and run B2B Integrator maps from Transformation Extender Advanced.
In future posts, I'll climb up the ladder of my simple chart and talk about the IBM products that transform/translate, communicate..etc.