Services and Adapters

A service is a set of instructions that the Business Process Engine uses to perform an activity in a business process. Adapters are services that connect the Business Process Engine and other system components to dissimilar systems and applications outside of the Sterling B2B Integrator environment.

Business processes can send, pause, retrieve, and fully interact with adapters.

Services and adapters are reusable—you can include them in multiple business process models.

Understanding Services and Adapters

Sterling B2B Integrator includes numerous services. Some are internal system services, while most are external and can be configured by users. Configurable services can be used in business processes for activities such as running pre-existing programs, ERP systems, Perl (Practical Extraction and Report Language) scripts, Java code, decision engines, defined subprocesses, or virtually any program. The interface includes wizard-driven configuration and deployment steps to make the setup simple.

There are three service types:
  • Internal - Accepts parameters and produces results, but does not directly interact with outside systems.
  • Input - Receives data from outside systems.
  • Output - Sends data to outside systems.

Input and output services are generally called adapters. The adapters connect to systems and applications outside of the Sterling B2B Integrator environment. Adapters can listen for remote calls and then start the business processes. They can be used to start business processes or at any point in the business process.

Another type of input/output service is a human interaction service. Human interaction services enable humans to interact with a business process; for example, using a Web browser to approve data as a step in a business process.

For a list of the functional types of services and adapters in Sterling B2B Integrator, see Service and Adapters Category List.

Standards, Foreign Language, and Data Type Support

Sterling B2B Integrator services are developed using industry-accepted specifications for data formats, communication protocols, workflow modeling, and security in order to maximize interoperability between systems and trading partners.

Supported standards include:
  • Internet transports
  • Cryptographic services
  • Document-enveloping formats
  • Document formats
  • Business process sequencing
  • Web services

Because Sterling B2B Integrator is built on a Java code base, and Java supports Unicode, which is a universal character-encoding scheme for written characters and text, the programs with which your processes will interact can be written in nearly any language. Virtually any file-based, message-based, or stream-based data type are also supported.


Adapters either receive input from or provide output to outside systems. Adapters provide noninvasive integration with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Supply Chain Management (SCM), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), other packaged applications, enterprise applications, communication protocols, messaging solutions such as IBM WebSphere®, and databases.

The following process summarizes the way adapters work within a business process:

  1. The business process progresses to the application adapter step.
  2. The adapter calls a third-party application to perform an activity.
  3. The system records the modified state (context) of the process and related data.
  4. The business process continues to the next service or adapter.

Service and Adapters Category List

The following table lists Sterling B2B Integrator services and adapters according to the functional category they belong to:
Service and Adapters Category Description
Application adapters

Connect to packaged business applications that are external to Sterling B2B Integrator, including ERP, CRM, supply chain management, and procurement software.

BPML activity services Support the run-time execution of functions in a business process model.
Communication adapters

Enable Sterling B2B Integrator to send and receive messages using the standard Internet communication protocols.

Custom services

Developed and configured by your software developer to use with Sterling B2B Integrator.

EDI services

Transaction processing for EDI transactions, including de-enveloping, enveloping, and functional acknowledgment generation.

Internal services Support the general run-time environment and are not user configurable.
Internet B2B standards services

Manage data from your firewall to your trading partners by running interoperable Internet business sequencing protocols such as EDIINT, SOAP, RosettaNet™ Implementation Framework (RNIF), and Electronic Business using eXtensible Markup Language (ebXML).

Messaging adapters

Enable Sterling B2B Integrator to send messages to and receive messages from remote messaging queues

IBM® adapters Connect to other IBM products.
System services Support the general run-time environment (these are user configurable).
Translation services Translate or transform data using maps created with the Map Editor tool.
Web Extensions services or “human interaction” services
  • Enable human interaction with business processes and support Web services technologies.
  • Directly start application function calls over the Internet.

Sterling B2B Integrator is flexible and enables you to determine what activities to configure as a service, a business process, or a subprocess. For instance, you could implement ebXML support in the form of multiple activities linked together in a business process, or write a single service. This flexibility ensures that you can easily adapt to new requirements.