Editor’s note: A few days ago Liaison Technologies, a global provider of secure cloud-based integration and data management services and solutions, acquired Hubspan, the leading provider of cloud-based business integration solutions. The combined company creates the leading cloud integration platform and is the largest pure-play cloud-based integration brokerage in the market. In this interview, both companies discuss the cloud services broker trend, data for real-time business intelligence, and how the acquisition changes the vendor landscape.
SandHill.com: What are the top factors driving organizations to a cloud services broker (CSB)?
Larry Mieldezis: From Liaison’s perspective it’s really been to position one’s organization to be agile and respond quickly to opportunities in the market while managing cost. There are many cloud services available now and companies want to take advantage of them; but without a CSB strategy, the timeline and complexity to do that on a scale level multiplies quickly. Using a CSB allows companies to quickly take advantage of various cloud services because they’ve already established the connections. Building out dedicated, proprietary connections to those cloud service providers can take a lot of time and money. A CSB allows companies to respond very quickly.
Trisha Gross: From an overall market perspective, our experience shows two drivers. One is the continued adoption of cloud-based technologies, services, applications and infrastructures. Clearly, the portfolio of cloud-based products and services is growing daily. Over the past 24 months, we’ve observed that some of the traditional worries about cloud-based products and services such as security, control and reliability are being well addressed by cloud services providers. This is leading more companies to adopt a broad range of services and technologies that sit in the cloud.
The other driver is the ongoing need to share information across a large set of constituents, rather than just across an organization. It’s no longer supply chain, demand chain and logistics. It could be patient information and medical records in the healthcare market, real-time pricing information in the consumer products sector or masterfile data integration for those adopting cloud-based apps. More and more companies are sharing more information with a broader set of internal and external partners. The intersection of these drivers gives rise to the need for cloud services brokerages.
SandHill.com: How can companies know when they need a cloud broker?
Larry Mieldezis: I think of it from a scalability perspective. Companies anticipate value in adopting cloud services. This makes cloud services brokerages a good strategy for adopting those services, starting with a handful of services that they want to bring into the portfolio and being able to scale very quickly.
Trisha Gross: Companies come to us for a couple of reasons. They typically have an integration challenge that is very focused to start; but yet they know that they have the need for a broader solution across several departments, business units or external partners. Some lack the skill or knowledge to connect to and manage cloud-based services, or they have tried to tackle integration challenges internally and understand the benefits of using best-in-class technologies and services.
Time to market is also a major factor as companies are in the process of adopting cloud-based infrastructures and applications, and they expect very rapid deployment. Last but very important is the need for companies to have a single point of visibility and control of integrating processes and data. CSBs excel in accelerating that process.
SandHill.com: What benefits do you bring to the market as a cloud services broker? What differentiates your positioning in this growing market?
Larry Mieldezis: There are a couple of things: Our broad reach into the vertical markets we serve has driven us to build cloud services brokerage interfaces to a number of different cloud services ranging from financial services, sales automation, pricing, travel, healthcare, insurance and many more. The benefits we bring to customers as a combined company are a very diverse, experienced reach to various cloud services. As a CSB we have a very rich portfolio of integration points and integration skills that we extend to our customers.
This breadth differentiates us from other CSBs. We’re not purely vertically focused, but the combined company has deep process experience with a variety of vertical industries. Liaison and Hubspan serve a number of different vertical markets with little overlap, so our combined company now has a much richer base of expertise to serve companies across a much broader base of industries.
Another component, one that is particularly unique for cloud services brokerages, is that even as independent companies, Liaison and Hubspan were very consistent and similar in our messages and delivery model. Both companies deliver very customized service levels wrapped around our CSB models. We take the services and solutions we render inside of our cloud platform and we tailor them to our customers’ business processes as opposed to the common scale model that our competitors use where they market their solutions and push on their customer base adoption of their standard practices and operating models. In contrast, we deliver a tailored, customized cloud services brokerage framework and service for our customers as opposed to a more common one-size-fits-all practice.
Trisha Gross: Our partners have integration challenges as well, and the ability to take something customized for that partner and package it up in a simple way for the end customer to use is another big advantage to the market above and beyond our competitors.
From a channel perspective, Hubspan has been very successful in working with our channel partners, helping them to simplify the integration message even though it can be complex. Offering a proven technology platform is also critical. As customers and partners of all sizes become more sophisticated in their use of cloud-based solutions, items such as up-time and performance SLAs, advanced security, and operational excellence are absolutely mandatory for success. Both Liaison and Hubspan have been in the business for more than 10 years and, unlike a lot of providers, we have a very proven platform.
SandHill.com: Please explain how this acquisition will help companies avoid the general problems associated with managing the integration process, which can otherwise negate the benefits of cloud computing.
Larry Mieldezis: The acquisition provides our prospects, customers and partners with more skill, experience and capabilities in terms of our platform and managed services. Liaison and Hubspan come together with broad, diverse experience in the markets we serve. In addition, Hubspan has a very strong partner and channel program and is very strong in financial services and aerospace. Liaison is strong in manufacturing, healthcare, life sciences and telecommunications. You bring those together and you have a very rich, diverse portfolio of experience of how to leverage cloud computing.
For example, a telecommunications company may have a broad, common need of cloud services but they also have very specific industry needs, and because they were a Liaison customer, we have experience in that space. Whereas, Hubspan has specific industry experience in aerospace. You bring those two together and it creates a very diverse and rich portfolio of experience, solutions, tools, processes and services as it relates to cloud computing and our customer base benefits from that.
Trisha Gross: Together, Hubspan and Liaison offer products and services that address end-to-end integration challenges across application integration (A2A), business process integration (B2B), master data management (MDM), managed file transfer (MFT) and more. The combined company offers in-depth expertise across a variety of industry verticals that enables customers and partners to rapidly and efficiently solve integration challenges.
We are the largest pure-play cloud integration platform in the market and the only provider with this breadth and depth of solutions and expertise.
SandHill.com: How will your combined capabilities in integration benefit organizations looking for help with real-time business intelligence? How does this differ from other market solutions?
Larry Mieldezis: Both Liaison and Hubspan take a tailored approach to providing CSB services by being very aware of the business process needs our customers have as opposed to a provider that just moves information and translates it indifferent to what’s on the endpoint. We understand at a very granular level the vertical markets we serve and the business processes that support those markets. Real-time business intelligence has been and will continue to be a key strategy for Liaison going forward.
Liaison and Hubspan believed in business intelligence and have built platforms to support it with managed services wrapped around technology to support real-time business integration. As a combined company, it just gets stronger. In contrast to our competitors, we really do offer real-time business intelligence to real-time business integration.
For example, Liaison’s LENS platform, which allows real-time visibility and business activity monitoring around the integration information that flows through our network, will now be extended across the markets that Hubspan serves. This is very different from traditional message-based platform vendors that are trying to convert themselves into CSBs.
Trisha Gross: From Hubspan’s perspective with our partner community, the need for real-time information is growing. Companies are leveraging cloud-based applications to automate those processes. Being able to collect that information in real time across multiple clouds and bring it all together in one system is critical, and Liaison is one of the few vendors that can do this. Almost real time in three minutes is not the same as real time, which is what Liaison does.
We promote the idea of gathering information — business intelligence — about transactions that goes well beyond the walls of Liaison’s cloud platform and reaches deep into other cloud applications and partner companies, extracting that information, aggregating it and rendering it to our customer in a clean, concise format. This gives them visibility from the earliest point of when a product begins the manufacturing process to when it moves to the logistics/transportation phase and is delivered to the retailer.
SandHill.com: In what ways does this acquisition change the cloud vendor landscape?
Larry Mieldezis: The acquisition of Hubspan positions Liaison as a true standalone CSB provider that is the largest, most diverse, rich, multi-vertical market pure play in the CSB space. There are a lot of providers that are very niche in the markets they serve or they’re trying to provide these services as a subset in a much broader portfolio of software or service offerings.
Gartner positions Liaison as a leader and Hubspan as a visionary in its Magic Quadrant. It’s safe to say Liaison is now the largest pure-play cloud-based integration brokerage in the market today. If customers are looking to build a relationship with a vendor that can solve multiple needs and who really understands how to integrate at the process level in the cloud, Liaison is the one-stop shopping answer.
Larry Mieldezis is chief operating officer for Liaison Technologies, a global provider of secure cloud-based integration and data management services and solutions. Trisha Gross is president and CEO for Hubspan, the leading provider of cloud-based business integration solutions. The combined company, operating as Liaison Technologies creates the leading cloud integration platform to address critical customer and partner needs for B2B, A2A, Managed File Transfer (MFT), Master Data Management (MDM) and data security. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kathleen Goolsby is managing editor at SandHill.com.