Sterling, MetaStorm Tools Tackle Process Integration

Two software developers release tool kits which assist with collaboration and integration, whether between companies or when integrating SOA with business processes.

Business-to-business integration software developer Sterling Commerce and business process management software provider MetaStorm Inc. are adding more functionality for process integration—a key area as companies look to collaborate electronically.

Sterling Commerce, a subsidiary of SBC Communications Inc., announced this week its Gentran Integration Suite 4.0, which enables users to map and integrate business processes with partners and suppliers.

Similarly, last week MetaStorm, based in Columbia, Md., announced its Universal Process Orchestrator, which helps companies to take their SOA (service-oriented architecture) and tie that into their business processes.

MetaStorms Universal Process Orchestrator is a tool kit that lets users transform .Net-, Java- and BPEL (Business Process Execution Language)-based Web service components into business processes.

Orchestrator, through a set of APIs and process activators, points to a specific technology—.Net or Java, for example—and converts that section of code into a format that is readable and understandable by MetaStorms software.

Separately, Sterlings GIS 4.0 is the first product announcement validating the companys MESA (Multi-Enterprise Services Architecture) initiative, which was announced in November. MESA enables process collaboration between trading partners, according to Sam Starr, CEO of Sterling, in Dublin, Ohio.

"GIS 4.0 really does deliver on our multienterprise collaboration strategy by incorporating integration, business intelligence and BPM (business process management) and delivering those in the context of the B2B [business-to-business] world," said Starr. "The key is our focus on community. If you look at more sophisticated environments, you really end up having to work across a community—a set of suppliers or corporate customers linking into a business environment."

New BAM (Business Activity Monitoring) and enhanced process management capabilities in GIS 4.0 enable users to take action on events as they occur. New graphical process modeling capabilities make it easier to create business processes.

A community management dashboard provides portlets that automate change management across a partner community and provide a system for document tracking, said Starr. At the same time, a data-compliance engine enables data synchronization, while new federated capabilities let users monitor processes across multiple instances of the GIS software. The federated functionality alerts users when there is a problem with a transaction.

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Analysts believe Sterling is moving in the right direction with GIS 4.0. "A lot of companies like Wal-Mart [Stores Inc.] and Intel [Corp.] are really looking to compete by having an integrated supply chain strategy with partners," said Kosin Huang, an analyst with Yankee Group Research Inc., in Boston. "[GIS 4.0] is the best release Ive seen [from Sterling] and the best vision from Sterling."

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