June 2022 | Issue 2


How to Harness the Trend of the Decade - ESG

Coined as the “trend of the decade”, Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investments are forecasted to soar beyond $30 trillion by the year 2030.


Gentran – Simple, Visible, but time to change?

The need for advanced EDI & B2B integration solutions is driving many to reconsider their current ‘on-premise’ based solutions.


Tech Corner

In our technology corner, we select the most common issues encountered within the IBM user community and source the best answer links to help you find a solution.


From the world of business

Coliance homes in on recent developments and discussions in our industry


IBM enables improved partner integration for reduced carbon footprint

If carbon reduction is one of your Key Performance Indicators then the need to reduce emissions from your IT infrastructure should be highlighted on your Digital Transformation Agenda.


How to Harness the Trend of the decade – ESG

The dawn of ESG

ESG is a framework used for evaluating the extent to which a company goes to meet both environmental and social goals. Compared to traditional corporate priorities, ESG encourages creating environmental and social value in addition to expected financial yields for shareholders.   Although previously used interchangeably with the term “sustainability,” ESG is far more nuanced. While sustainability can vary in definition between organizations, ESG is an all-encompassing set of specific criteria for environmental, social and governance investments. As an umbrella term, organizations today often incorporate their approaches to sustainability and sustainable processes in an attempt to meet their ESG goals. This is particularly relevant to goals related to environmental and social considerations. An example of this can be seen in what is referred to as the “Race to Zero,” which refers to a mass global alliance between corporations that seeks to meet net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Harnessing ESG with Technology

Proceeding, ESG, its utility and implementation in corporate practices has evolved considerably over the years. Much of this can be attributed to advancements in technology and the subsequent enhanced sophistication of stakeholder expectations.

To elaborate, previously, there were little to no means of measuring and tracking the effectiveness of ESG investments. Organizations would adopt what is characterized as a greenwashing approach to ESG. Within which, companies could make grandiose claims of their commitment to ESG goals, particularly those related to environmental sustainability, without having to provide any kind of evidence or support.

Today, with advancements in information technology (IT) and increased data transparency, companies are expected to provide insights to their investors that demonstrate whether or not they are actually “moving the needle on ESG principles.

In addition to providing insights on whether goals are met, technology such as IBM’s Envizi can also be used to support the actual achievement of ESG goals. A profound example can be seen in the Race to Zero.

Here, technology can be used in four primary ways; process optimization, carbon data transparency, circular products and services, and data systems and ventures. Within these areas, examples of technology that can be used include cloud technology, artificial intelligence, IoT and blockchain.

ESG and Supply Chain Management

As ESG continues to grow in popularity, various stakeholders such as consumers, investors, and regulatory bodies continue to pressure organizations to adopt sustainable practices and source sustainably. This has resulted in an increased need for optimizing processes and increasing visibility, specifically within supply chains. IBM, a pioneer in sustainable supply chain solutions, highlights 3 ways to accelerate organization supply chain sustainability. This includes inventory management, fulfilment optimization and product provenance. Inventory management refers to the in-depth review, analysis and forecasting of supply chain needs. This aids in the achievement of sustainability and, by extension, ESG-goals by providing a granular view of stock requirements. In turn, this enables organizations to accurately predict their needs, cut costs and reduce the need for emergency shipments. Fulfilment optimization refers to the practice of fulfilling customer needs in a way that is environmentally sustainable. This involves sourcing inventory closer to customers in order to reduce an organization’s carbon footprint by decreasing logistics-related emissions. Finally, product provenance refers to the curation and nurturing of an interconnected ecosystem of supply chain partners that adhere to the same environmental values.

What does this mean for companies?

As it increases in popularity among investors and customers alike, organizations looking to remain competitive will have to adopt ESG principles into their operational practices. For those looking to enhance their environmental sustainability, this may require considerable adjustment to supply chain management. To achieve this, companies can look to a variety of technologies that can effectively support their transition to a business model that is not only profitable but also environmentally and socially sustainable. Coliance are experts at leveraging technology and data to accelerate your company’s journey to a sustainability advantage. Our strategies together with our cloud based Managed services and solutions from our partners such as IBM, can help you take a proactive approach to ensure that your organisation is working towards making your partner ecosystem sustainable. Contact us today to reimagine your business and improve your performance against ESG goals.


Gentran – Simple, Visible, but time to change?

With evolving market conditions accelerating the need for advanced EDI and B2B integration capabilities, we can’t help but ask:

  • Is your EDI solution the most cost-effective one available for a low volume company?
  • Is your EDI Solution vulnerable to ransomware attacks?
  • Do you have sufficient development and support coverage when identifying EDI issues or have new partner onboarding requirements?

In order to evaluate these three important questions, we need to examine the history of the three main ‘on premise EDI Solutions’ available from IBM under the Sterling brand.

Many enterprises rely on one of the three ‘on-premise’ based EDI solutions that IBM currently offers under the Sterling Brand.

  • ITX Advanced,
  • IBM B2Bi (originally Gentran Integration Server) and
  • Gentran for Windows / Gentran Director.

ITX Advanced

Originally called SPE (Standards Processing Engine), ITX Advanced was an offshoot from B2Bi. It took the EDI processing engine within B2Bi and married this up with an updated XSLT mapping tool and integrated another tool WTX (WebSphere Translator, now called ITX). An excellent combination, that unfortunately had very little traction in the supply chain market. The failing was possibly because of the added requirement to send and receive the files for processing. ITX Advanced is therefore more beneficial for specialised applications or part of a wider set of tools.

IBM B2Bi (originally Gentran Integration Server)

IBM B2Bi was developed to be platform independent and to widen the EDI toolset into integration. It was designed to overcome the varied skills required to support many different products and cover the shortcomings of a fuller suite of Gentran products. Besides the Windows product, there was also Gentran for Z/OS (Mainframe), AS400 (I-Series), Unix and the lightweight version of Gentran for Windows called Gentran Director. The latter being tied into the Sterling Commerce Network and was only licenced to run on windows’ desktop products. Over time, IBM gradually removed support for all operating systems except Microsoft Windows and for limited applications with Gentran Director.

Gentran for Windows / Gentran Director

Gentran for Windows was developed in the late 80s and established itself as a very competent single tenant EDI solution. Arguably, with support, consultancy, and licenses, it became one of the highest revenue earners of the Sterling Commerce products sets, certainly to EDI/Supply chain customers. Gentran has some key strengths, such as a simple to use and maintain mapping tooling and the ability to visualise transactions. However, from the late-90s onwards, the limitations of the tool showed. Multi tenancy was only achieved with workarounds and the technology had to retrofit the rise of XML messages. Bridge products were required for communications beyond the very simple protocols acceptable when dial up was replaced by internet communications. Its biggest threat, however, arose with security and the rise of many vulnerabilities.

The original design of Gentran for Windows found it difficult to keep pace with growing security concerns.

Despite these limitations, there has remained a loyal user base attracted to the simplicity of the tooling and its ability to track transactions. Often, these clients have a small number of partners and very few new partner onboardings.

But this brings us back to our original questions:

  • Is your EDI solution the most cost-effective one available for a low volume company?
  • Is your EDI Solution vulnerable to ransomware attacks?
  • Are you fully supported with your EDI Solution when you identify issues or have a new partner onboarding?

Above all other considerations – the time has come for all clients to rethink their security position. The rise of ransomware attacks means that all organisations are vulnerable to attack and need to have solutions built for the modern day. Whilst Gentran for Windows continues to be supported by IBM, they achieve it with a skeleton staff. Most fixes are only applied once clients have identified an issue. This is not a healthy position when that issue could be a security flaw.

Does the IBM successor solution B2Bi (also called GIS Gentran Integration Server or Sterling Integrator), address the shortcomings of Gentran?

As the original name suggests, the solution was built with a strong migration route from Gentran to B2Bi in mind. From a communications point of view, Gentran was designed for Dial Up Communications and there has been no significant update to cater for Internet Communication. With IBM B2Bi, support for VAN’s (Value-Added Network) communications is available, along with a suite of secure protocols and approaches for point-to-point communications. There is also a host of other capabilities in B2Bi, such as the handling of many types of API (Application Programming Interfaces). From a platform perspective, a wide range of platform combinations are available as well as certified container solutions. This allows for ‘deployment on premises’ in traditional methods through to full hybrid cloud deployment.

If I move from Gentran, what is the best EDI and B2Bi integration solution available that gives me the same simplicity of Gentran while providing seamless migration?

In recent years, frameworks have been created such as the Lightwell Framework to address the simplicity that exists with the Gentran visibility tools and B2Bi’s more textual standard view. These frameworks sit on B2Bi software to provide a similar simple interface and functioning like Gentran. Hosted services like Coliance Agora, built on IBM B2Bi and the Lightwell Framework, provide a simple migration service. They can assist you to migrate away from Gentran and provide a service that is more cost effective for low volume companies. An added advantage is that they are monitored and fully supported to provide the latest security versions. In addition, EDI expertise is on hand to assist with new partner onboarding whenever required.

If you are finding it a challenge to improve the security in your organisation and still run Gentran for Windows or Gentran Director, then you might want to consider talking to Coliance. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover how a hosted service built on IBM B2Bi and the Lightwell Framework can provide greater security with cost efficiency and effective onboarding.


Tech Corner  

In our technology corner, we select the most common issues encountered within the IBM user community and source the best answer links to help you find a solution, If you are facing similar issues and need further guidance, contact us – we are happy to help.

  • SAP S4HANA integration with IBM Sterling B2B Integrator
    Users have been facing challenges integrating IBM Sterling B2B Integrator (B2Bi) with SAP S4HANA. A few had success using the same methodology as integrating with SAP R/3. Read the discussion with inputs from technical experts of IBM and those working on these products here 

  • Creating a route on a sub-mailbox in global mailbox of IBM’s Sterling File Gateway if route already exists
    Users of IBM’s Sterling File Gateway, a secure file transfer solution, ran into an issue of not being able to create a route on a sub-mailbox in global mailbox if route already exists on another sub-mailbox under the same parent mailbox. Read on about the fix for this issue by IBM here 

  • Prepare customer firewalls and proxies for the upcoming infrastructure changes including SFG connections
    IBM has planned an infrastructure improvement implementation on 4th June. Both the internal and external public IP addresses will change for IBM servers that electronically exchange some information with customers. Customers are suggested to complete the new firewall rules and proxy changes by Aug 31st. Read more about the notification here


From the world of business

Is the supply chain the next big sustainability software play?

Carbon accounting and management software really came into its own last year, spurred by corporate net-zero commitments, and it looks as if 2022 could represent a tipping point for supply chain software that empowers sourcing decisions point to net zero.

Read more

How exposed is your supply chain to climate risks?

Climate change is posing major challenges to supply chains. This article assessed the climate-related risks of supplier sites that serve original equipment manufacturers in the high tech, auto, and consumer goods industries. It offers advice on how OEMS can improve their resiliency to climate-related disruptions.

Read more

Intel in chips warning, as Ukraine war squeezes supply

Intel CEO warns microprocessor shortages likely to run into 2024 due to Ukraine invasion and China lockdowns, and sees reshoring as future. 

Read more


IBM enables improved partner integration for reduced carbon footprint

If carbon reduction is one of your Key Performance Indicators then the need to reduce emissions from your IT infrastructure should be highlighted on your Digital Transformation Agenda.

A Key enabling technology in this battle is the ability to modernise your IT Infrastructure and move some key solutions into the cloud or containerise the solutions on-premise, thus reducing the physical server footprint and resultant power output.

In this article, we see how IBM and CVS, a health provider, went on this journey through the need to improve the integration of their supply chain partners with a key driver to reduce their carbon footprint.


  • A modern approach to hybrid cloud integration helps turn vision into action 


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