Webspan By Stefan Ried

Integration as a Service, another milestone in the industry’s move towards platform as a service (PaaS) paradigms.

Forrester talked to Trisha Gross, CEO of Hubspan, a provider of SaaS-style business integration solutions who today announced a partnership with IBM’s software group.

Hubspan is an innovative integration service provider founded in 2000. They have successfully developed an integration-as-a-service solution which runs basically as an Internet Service Bus, providing similar features to traditional ESBs, but this time transparently inside and beyond the boundaries of a customer’s corporate IT environment. Hubspan’s new effort under the name Webspan is a joint solution with IBM.

1. Hubspan incorporates key components of Websphere’s software stack in their new offering. Participating in IBM’s brand value provides major marketing momentum for Hubspan. Further the technical integration to IBM customers might be easier – however if you believe the vendor’s statements, it is all built on open standards and the integration to any SOA based infrastructure and modern ERP system should be straight forward.

2. IBM puts Webspan on their price list.
Despite IBM’s commitment to cloud computing, their offerings and market recognition have until now focused on private clouds and the corporate environment. IBM does not offer public cloud infrastructure like Amazon or integration as a service solutions like Boomi.com. However, their strong commitment to Hubspan can be a test balloon for the integration-as-a-service business model. Does it resonate in IBM’s sales organization and customer base? That’s a careful way to check out the market without immediately broadening IBM’s own large portfolio.

Integration as a Service is a significant part of the emerging category of platform as a service products and providers as described by Forrester in this recent report: “Forrester's Platform-As-A-Service Reference Architecture”. The SaaS-style integration solutions basically indicate the further evolution of the aged SOA paradigm. Hubspan provides the single instance, multi-tenant integration components of a PaaS stack. However, major parts of a full application platform are missing. Most importantly, Hubspan does not position their platform as a container for new business logic like other PaaS vendors such as Force.com, Longjump, and Apprenda do. Therefore the new webspan offering is not overly attractive to ISVs who like to deploy their app in a SaaS style. Webspan is mainly targeting end users who like to turn some of their CAPEX used for the integration between various IT systems into an OPEX based approach. Obviously, like with most other SaaS approaches, the business scenarios that are collaborative between companies are more attractive than internally focused scenarios.

Due to Trish’s statement, the new webspan offering will be focused at a SaaS service. It will not be available as a licensed software solution to run inside a customer’s own private cloud. Forrester does not expect the webspan development to be productized back into the websphere stack in the near future. However, IBM indicated that they follow closely Hubspan’s and other customer requirements. Hopefully, there will be enough business around integration as a service to justify the future development of Websphere’s current missing multi tenancy capabilities.

WebSpan is marketed and sold by both the IBM global sales force and Hubspan. However, customers should be aware that the solution is owned and operated by Hubspan, it is not a joint venture with IBM as of today – maybe soon.

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