The growing trend to marry business process modeling to Web services is extending business-to-business integration beyond simple transactions between companies.
Major vendors of EAI (enterprise application integration) software, such as Tibco Software Inc., SeeBeyond Technology Corp. and Microsoft Corp., are quickly adding XML-based Web services capabilities to their software to make business process integration easier, faster and ultimately less expensive.
"[Integration] is not simple; it is extremely complicated, [but] what is more complicated is implementing a new business process using Web-enabled tools," said Chris McCormick, CEO of IndigoB2B.com Inc., an e-marketplace for the chemicals industry in Newark, N.J. "The advantage of XML is it allows you to change the information that flows along. It does create a revolution."
Tibco will announce within 60 days a platform, code-named Jump Start, that will enable IT departments to manage, orchestrate and integrate business processes across Microsofts BizTalk integration server, proprietary Web services applications, legacy systems and Java Messaging Service.
Jump Starts guiding principle is expediency, said Rene White, vice president of marketing at Tibco, in Palo Alto, Calif. The offering will make functional Web services integration deployable in weeks, not months, White said.
Similarly, SeeBeyond is expanding its Business Integration Suite to include improved business process management integration through Web services. Next quarter, the Redwood Shores, Calif., company will announce an expanded EAI platform based on Web services that provides enhanced templates for business process modeling and upfront modeling for vertical-market processes.
Microsoft isnt standing still, either. Last week, the Redmond, Wash., company rolled out BizTalk Server 2002. This version of the integration framework boasts increased support for orchestrating Web services, business partner connectivity and integration with Visual Studio .Net, one of Microsofts building blocks for Web services (see eWEEK Labs Review, "BizTalk Server 2002 Eases B2B Communication").
BizTalk user McCormick welcomed the new features and compared BizTalk 2002 to other EAI applications on cost. "They all take work [to set up]. If no one has a pre-built solution, then it is a price issue and Microsoft wins," he said.
"The reason you need an EAI vendor to do Web services is companies dont have back-end systems aligned to do what customers or suppliers are asking them to do today," such as providing a complete list of products ordered from different divisions, said David Beltz, manager of B2B integration services at Air Products and Chemicals Inc., in Allentown, Pa. "We couldnt do that today without using a BizTalk or EAI tool to pull the information [for a complete sales report] out of back-end systems."
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