Tradeshift Engineering Intro Part 1 — Our Mission

I’d like to open the launch of Tradeshift engineering blog with a brief overview of the problems we are solving.

Global Business Network

Our mission is massive — to connect all businesses of the world together and to allow them to work with other more effectively. Think LinkedIn for B2B company graph crossed with Force.com as the PaaS. We are building a global network, and a platform for developers.

These companies are connected today using last century’s processes. By connecting them online in a network, tremendous new possibilities can be uncovered, as companies can understand all of their interactions with the external world, and optimize their relationships with their suppliers and customers. Our software needs to be flexible to support our customer’s changing business priorities.

Where a lot of our competitors are focused on connecting large businesses together, we want to connect ALL business together. That means we need to create solutions for small, medium and large businesses. This means we need to think about providing value to a mom and pop business, as well as the megacorp.

Platform As a Service

Despite our ambition, we also know that we won’t be able to satisfy all the complexity of the world’s business to business transactions. We hope that by building our stack as a platform with ability to easily add new applications, we will be able to attract other developers so they can build applications. We already have a number of great partners that have done that. We’ll talk about this in subsequent posts in this series.

What does the above mean in terms of engineering? To support this mission, we have a lot of fascinating engineering work happening, from our core platform services work to building end-user products where user experience is of primary concern.

How We Do It — Highlights

  • Microservices / Service Oriented Architecture to scale our platform and teams.
  • Multi-tenancy and tenant isolation. Each organization is a separate tenant, and its data is strictly isolated from other companies. This allows us to enforce a number of technical and legal requirements.
  • APIs-focused design. Our backend services expose APIs, which are both used by our UIs, and will also be available to third party application developers.
  • Security and authorization mechanisms to satisfy B2B use cases.
  • Platform focus. We design our services with intention of being used by many applications, including by our partners. This means we also manage deployment tools for developers that we use ourselves.
  • Document Pipeline and Business Firewall — much of our platform is focused on sending documents between companies —Purchase Orders, Invoices, etc., enforcing business rules to reduce errors or manual work.
  • To enable application development, our designers help define User Experience conventions and standards, including a component framework for building UIs. We also need to serve our mobile users, so responsive UIs are important.
  • We also develop end-user applications for our enterprise customers to satisfy some key use cases such as Accounts Payable and Procurement. So we have product development work in addition to platform work.

In the next installments of the Tradeshift Engineering Introduction series I’ll talk about our teams, technology stack and engineering processes, our engineering offices, and many other things. Stay tuned!

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