Integrating the Back End

Tibco, Commerce One and SAPMarkets to ease connecting the back office with B2B marketplaces

If getting a single companys back-end systems integrated and operating in concert has proved to be none too quick or easy, getting connected to multiple business-to-business e-marketplaces has proved to be at least as daunting.

Software developers including Tibco Software Inc., Commerce One Inc. and SAPMarkets Inc. are readying software they say makes it easier for suppliers and buyers to connect catalog and transactional data into e-marketplaces.

Tibco this week will unveil its NetworkConnector, software that enables companies to link procurement and ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications to Ariba Inc.s Commerce Services Network. According to Tibco developers, integration from SAP AG enterprise software to Aribas e-marketplace takes 20 minutes or less.

Similar connectors for e-markets developed on Commerce One and Oracle Corp. software are in the works from Tibco, as are connectors tuned to additional ERP and procurement applications, officials said.

Tibco, of Palo Alto, Calif., will announce general availability of its Active Exchange 2.0, which offers suppliers collaborative capabilities and a rapid path to integration to e-marketplaces through a browser-based interface.

NetworkConnector is a platform that lets companies interact with partners collaboratively. The preconfigured solution offers automated transformation of documents between internal formats and standardized formats.

It also provides a preconfigured process flow and data transformation rules to support rapid integration with leading enterprise applications.

Danny Costello, who spent two months integrating his back-end systems with a medical trading platform, is leery of claims of quick integration.

"There is just too much involved [in integration]," said Costello, IS manager at Tri-anim, in Sylmar, Calif. "How do you get data on the site with thousands of customers, each of whom has their own pricing? Just to give them the data for each customer is going to be more than just 20 minutes."

"They may be able to come up with a technology solution, but its not going to be customer-centric," Costello said.

Separately, Commerce One, of Pleasanton, Calif., and SAPMarkets, of Palo Alto, a subsidiary of SAP AG, will announce next week at Commerce Ones eLink show in New Orleans the availability of MarketSet 2.0. The software offers suppliers collaborative capabilities as well as a rapid path to integration with e-marketplaces via a browser.

The browser-based integration in MarketSet 2.0 is designed to make it easier for companies using e-procurement software products from smaller companies to share data with Commerce One-based exchanges. But it is an open question how quickly those companies want to extend their B2B transactions.

"Some of our customers are experimenting with marketplaces," said Kevin McCallum, chief technology officer at High Branch Software Inc. "The majority of our customers have not had a lot of success with that; the traction is just not there yet."

Later this month, High Branch, of Annandale, Va., will release Version 3.0 of High Branch Commerce, its B2B e-commerce software. The upgrade will be Extensible Markup Language- enabled and will include more-robust APIs; both should help when it comes time to connect Commerce to e-marketplaces.