GXS Works on B2B Integration Issues

GE Global Exchange Services' trio of initiatives to aid companies in their e-commerce efforts

Despite promises of end-to-end solutions, many companies are still having difficulties integrating with e-marketplaces, buyers and suppliers.

GE Global Exchange Services is out to change that with three initiatives it is using from its e-commerce community—a community that boasts more than 100,000 trading partners that conduct 1 billion transactions a year.

GXS, a subsidiary of General Electric Co. USA, is planning to release an Adaptor Developer Kit next quarter that simplifies the handshake necessary in back-end integration. The idea—one that GXS competitors such as IBM have already capitalized on—is that developers can use the kit to shortcut technology integration to the GXS platform without having to customize code.

Another initiative, JMS (Java Messaging Service), promises to make it easier to transport objects among data fields within a back-end system. GXS partnered with Progress Software Corp. last year to embed JMS in Progress SonicMQ Messaging Server and incorporate it internally with GXS integration products. By combining SonicMQ with JMS, a standardized open architecture is added to GXS integration products, in effect shortening the time it takes to integrate partners with Web-to-legacy and application-to-application integration. The project will be in production in the next 60 days.

The companys third initiative, also scheduled for release in the next 60 days, is NBT (Network-Based Translation). That service allows GXS, of Gaithersburg, Md., to take the EDI (electronic data interchange) or XML (Extensible Markup Language) data format from companies and convert it into a standardized schema in real time.

The NBT service can also translate EDI schema for offline companies. Lita Fulton, president of Fulton & Associates Inc., a full-service system and telecommunications technology company in Fairfax, Va., is beta testing NBT for a large government project.

"The way the process works is we have to establish a data model first and determine how were going to house it," Fulton said. "For us, its only one portion because all vendors are not all EDI. Thats what made GXS valuable for us because they can do XML translations, too."

While its got the exchange part nailed down, until now GXS hasnt made a name in the integration software space, according to analysts.

"Im a bit surprised that they havent been as present on the [integration] marketplace as theyve said they would be," said Tyler McDaniel, an analyst with Hurwitz Group Inc., in Framingham, Mass. "Theyve had the potential to be the market leader, but theyve not done that."

GXS CEO Harvey Seegers feels the company is on the right track. "Companies are having difficulty doing back-end integration. By the nature of the legacy environment, its a complex thing to do," Seegers said. "The perception out there is that XML is the panacea to back-end integration, that if you do an XML integration it will solve the problems."