EAI Tool Gives Users Control

An upgrade to WebMethods Inc.'s namesake EAI platform, due at month's end, will feature a new suite of workflow software.

An upgrade to WebMethods Inc.s namesake EAI platform, due at months end, will feature a new suite of workflow software. The WebMethods Workflow Platform, part of WebMethods Integration Platform Version 4.6, is based on technology that the Fairfax, Va., enterprise application integration software vendor acquired last year from IntelliFrame Corp. In addition to the workflow capability, the integration platform will support XML-based standards.

With its current integration platform, WebMethods can define business processes and automate business process modeling. However, adding human interaction to the process has been cumbersome, at best.

Typically, to include human interaction in a workflow, such as when an employee in accounting runs a credit check before approving a purchase order, third-party software has to be installed and integrated with specific applications. This requires new code and a custom user interface.

WebMethods has integrated IntelliFrames workflow technology with its platform so customers can, among other things, create a user interface in the tool set without more coding.

Additional features in WebMethods Workflow include a grouping mechanism that allows steps in a business process to be defined as roles and distributed to large groups of users.

The workflow platform extends the monitoring capabilities of the integration platform. Now, in addition to having the ability to monitor the steps in the automated business process, the workflow tool can monitor the steps in manual processes, providing status reports on subprocesses as well as workflow, according to officials.

Workflow capabilities are absolutely critical to the success and long-term viability of EAI software, said Christy Bass, managing partner of the EAI practice at Accenture Ltd. Each of WebMethods competitors have or are working on a workflow capability, Bass said.

"I dont believe having workflow is going to differentiate any [EAI platform] for very long," said Bass, in Dallas. "I am not putting down WebMethods. Theyre getting out there, being aggressive with niche components that have to be in their core offerings; it is exactly dead on."