Business on Track

By Renee Boucher Ferguson  |  Posted 2003-09-01 Print this article Print

Fuego, Accpac look to automate cross-enterprise tasks.

Software vendors are trying to make it easier for companies to streamline their business processes so that enterprises can spit out relevant and timely information both internally and to partners, suppliers and customers.

Fuego Inc., for instance, next month will announce Fuego Express, software that enables the rapid development and deployment of process applications without the need for significant interaction with systems infrastructure.

Separately, Accpac International Inc., a subsidiary of Computer Associates International Inc., late last month rolled out with IBM the Accpac Advantage Series accounting applications for small and midsize businesses. The software is used to help companies manage business processes.

The Advantage Series software includes out-of-the-box capabilities for cross-application integration, business-to-business transaction integration and deployment of applications over the Web.

Accpacs applications include accounting, customer relationship management, e-commerce, warehouse management, manufacturing, human resource management and point-of-sale software, among others, said officials at the Pleasanton, Calif., company.

The Accpac software will be sold through IBMs reseller channel.

Meanwhile, Fuego Express has two main components: a Process Studio platform for developing composite applications and a self-contained run-time process engine that doesnt require external products to manage instance persistency or Fuegos Web-based work portal, according to Fuego officials, in Plano, Texas.

The Express engine is self-contained so that application developers can install it, develop a process and publish it to the engine, company officials said. Express also comes with a persistency data store so it doesnt have to figure out where other IT systems are, since the information is already available.

As a result, Express enables companies to find an internal process that needs fixing and automate it. The company is pitching the softwares price tag—just under $50,000—as a means for enterprises to learn the value of BPM (business process management) without having to make a major investment.

Tesoro Petroleum Corp., an oil refining and marketing company based in San Antonio, is using Version 4.5 of Fuegos namesake BPM platform to connect processes across SAP AG applications and home-grown applications.

Tesoro CIO Mark Evans said he started using an earlier version of Fuego on a pilot project that simplified the order management process for one of Tesoros business units.

"We created easy-to-use HTML pages, then we went to SAP and pulled out the BAPIs [Business APIs] and customized them, [and] then we put a communications wrapper around it that was an object," Evans said. "From there, we used Fuego to assemble a workflow of human interaction, system interaction and decisions, put it all together and tested it. Once we got the architecture set in, it took about a month [to complete the pilot], then about six to seven weeks to build the first application. Weve been going gangbusters since then."

Evans and his group built composite applications—software that pulls together processes from different applications to create a new application—using Fuego.

"Most people dont understand the BPM principle until they see it work," Evans said.

He welcomed the Fuego Express concept and said its better to start with a smaller proof-of-concept project prior to making a multimillion-dollar BPM software decision.

"I kind of pioneered [the Express] solution with Fuego, and I brought it in for under $50,000," said Evans.

Companies are conducting more pilot and proof-of-concept projects before committing a large amount of money to BPM products, according to Gordon Sellers, Fuegos vice president of sales.

"Its very clear that people are still kicking the tires and thinking about what theyre going to do next year," Sellers said. "The adoption curve of Web services and BPM is not what we would have all wanted, but there is interest."

To prove that its software can scale beyond limited pilot tests, Fuego last week announced the results of performance testing on its Orchestration Engine by Chicago-based Doculabs Inc.

The benchmarking test achieved aggregated average transaction throughput across four client workstations of more than 2,000 transactions per minute, with a total of 146,415 transactions over 30 minutes.


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