Ilog Gives Users Site Control

Company's Java-based configuration tool gives customers more control over their Web experiences

Ilog inc. this week at sun Microsystems Inc.s JavaOne developer conference will roll out a Java-based configuration tool that allows Web sites to give customers more control over their site experience.

JConfigurator, a Java optimization component that can be embedded in sites and Web applications, allows buyers on consumer and business-to-business Web sites to make selections based on the features and preferences they desire. Such personalization is typically used at sites selling complex products and services with many features and options, such as cars, home equity loans, insurance policies and computer equipment.

JConfigurator combines optimization and business rules technologies previously available from Ilog as separate products. Optimization gives customers choices or parameters to select, while the business rules tell the system how to respond to criteria the customer selects, said officials at Ilog, of Mountain View, Calif.

The key to uniting the two technologies, which were previously written in C++, is that they are written in Java and made EJB (Enterprise JavaBeans)-compliant.

Bob Howell, who has used Ilogs optimization product, called Solver, said the concept behind JConfigurator is powerful stuff.

First Union Home Equity Bank, where Howell is vice president of strategic planning, uses Solver to allow consumers and mortgage companies to configure mortgages on the most suitable terms for their particular situation. The Charlotte, N.C., company had to build its own configurator, or rules engine, as none existed when First Union first began to use Solver. Howell said JConfigurator should save companies that step.

"It should give folks a jump-start on the type of application we built," he said.

JConfigurator will be available this summer priced starting at $10,000.

Ilog is not alone in its effort to add more capabilities to its customer-facing Web software with Java. Kana Communications Inc., of Redwood City, Calif., last week announced a new EJB-based version of its Kana Service application for customer service.

Kana Service 7 EJB is the Kana Service application rebuilt from scratch in EJB components. Officials said the product is more robust because of the new architecture, with the capability of handling more than 1 million concurrent customer sessions and 10,000 users.

Kana Service 7 EJB will be available by June 20. Pricing starts at $200,000.

Separately, Actuate Corp. this week will announce Formula One for Java 9.0, which is a Java spreadsheet engine developed by Tidestone Technologies Inc., which Actuate acquired just last month.

The product embeds charts and reports compatible with Microsoft Corp.s Excel spreadsheet in applications deployed from Web and application servers. The new version features a JavaServer Pages Charting API that uses report templates built in Excel, said officials from Actuate, of South San Francisco, Calif.