Cast Iron System, a software-as-a-service integration specialist, is partnering with SPS Commerce to enable suppliers to connect back-end systems with SPS' hosted services.
The Cast Iron Integration Solution for SPS, launched April 29, features preconfigured connectivity from the SPSCommerce.net EDI service to all major ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems.
"We manage EDI [electronic data interchange] for 11,000 suppliers and vendors with a network of 1,200 North American retailers," said David Novak, executive vice president of business development for SPS Commerce. "Our paying customers are suppliers, who outsource compliance [with retailers' differing EDI communications standards]."
Novak said SPS helps suppliers get purchase orders from retailers into their back-end systems and then sources communications back to the retailers from those back-end systems, while eliminating redundancies and meeting compliance standards.
"Suppliers treat us as if we were their EDI department," he said.
While processing purchase orders from retailers, Novak said SPS is dependent on suppliers to finish the "last mile" of EDI integration, but they often lack the wherewithal to complete it. Using the Cast Iron solution, he said suppliers can complete that last mile in a packaged way that accelerates successful EDI integration.
Chandar Pattabhiram, vice president of product marketing for Cast Iron Systems, said his company specializes in integrating SAAS applications with on-premises applications.
"We take data from the SAAS application, put it back into the back-office ERP system, and then take that data out of the ERP system and put it back into the SAAS application," Pattabhiram said.
He said Cast Iron uses a "configuration, not coding" approach to SAAS integration.
"We say you use your mouse, not your keyboard, for integration," he said. "The typical supplier had had two choices-Fortune 150 companies could use large middleware systems, and the majority would use custom middleware scripting. We include the business processes preconfigured and precoded in the application."
As a result, Novak said Cast Iron only has to integrate with a customer's SPS Commerce system one time and then SPS will normalize and federate their EDI communications to meet the compliance requirements of various retailers.
Pattabhiram said that from a supplier perspective, this provides significant EDI scalability.
"We can provide custom scripts for every retailer," he said. "Tomorrow, if they change their back-office systems, rather than having to change all their EDI scripts, we have templates built in."
Jim Henderson, a principal with retail consulting firm Columbus Consulting, said the Cast Iron integration solution may offer speed-to-market and speed-to-solution benefits.
"It sounds like there is a lot of drag-and-drop and point-A-to-point B functionality," Henderson said. "The integration of any size retail system can get pretty complicated. It usually involves disparate systems. This solution may provide the opportunity to speed the process."
Dan Berthiaume covers the retail space for eWEEK. For more industry news, check out eWEEK.com's Retail Site.