New WebSphere Software Serves B2B Integration Needs

Tuesday Aug 5th 2003 by Clint Boulton
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IBM refreshes software from its WebSphere middleware portfolio to tie legacy applications to newer ones in a B2B trading community. There will be an 'Express' edition for small and medium businesses that want to integrate with a small number of trading partners as quickly as possible.

Continuing its sweeping treatment of integration software across its WebSphere line, IBM Monday unveiled refreshed a product to help business-to-business (B2B) trading companies merge internal applications for greater efficiency.

B2B business trading communities are often hectic environments where partners, suppliers, and customers go to do business. Because so many different parties are taking part in this experience, it is common for disparate types of applications and processes to be used.

There is order triggering, which is connected to enterprise resource planning (ERP) and the supply chain, to take into account. This can get confusing and problematic because of interoperability issues between legacy and new-school software.

IBM believes this WebSphere Business Integration Connect version 4.2 software can help solve these compatibility issues and ultimately streamline the supply chain.

Paraic Sweeney, vice president of marketing, Web services division at IBM, said the new software will help trading communities in several vertical markets, such as electronics or retail, streamline business operations.

"There is not a clear distinction between internal and external business integration needs," Sweeney said. "B2B connection needs to support a range of those. Once customers have systems in operation they are very loathe to take them offline."

Sweeney said Connect 4.2 will be accompanied by services from Viacore, which specializes in integration services for private trading communities. IBM will provide Connect 4.2 while Viacore will provide services on a step-by-step basis to the customers' trading partners in each stage as these customers build their community.

Redmonk Senior Analyst Stephen O'Grady said the announcement is further proof of the accelerated competition between IBM and rivals HP and Sun Microsystems in the integration space.

"This move is indeed another proof point of IBM's recent focus on integration as an important battleground in the enterprise platform provider market. With BEA's Platform increasingly integration focused approach and Sun's forthcoming Orion product including significant integration functionality as part of the package, integration is an area that many of the leading platform vendors are now viewing as a competitive differentiator," O'Grady said.

One of the new product features includes InstallShield, which makes installation faster, easier and more secure. Another is the Community Participant Simulator function, which a customer can use to test its community integration prior to deployment to gauge effectiveness.

WebSphere Business Integration Connect will be available in three editions, including an "Express" edition for small and medium businesses that want to integrate with a small number of trading partners as quickly as possible; an advanced edition for companies that want to connect to a growing number of trading partners; and a business-class enterprise edition, which is like the advanced edition, but is priced to manage larger trading communities.

WebSphere Business Integration Connect will be available in the third quarter of 2003. Pricing will be announced at that time.

Adapted from internetnews.com.

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