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Infoteria Makes Supply Chain Automation Accessible

The automation of supply chain relationships can create tremendous efficiencies for enterprises, and it is a step that many wish to undertake. But while the benefits are clear, automation rarely penetrates deeper than upper-tier partners for one, simple reason: price.

The legacy solutions available today are expensive enough that they tend to freeze out smaller supply chain partners. Enter RosettaNet's Basics Program.

RosettaNet is an independent, self-funded, non-profit global business consortium of 400 leading IT, Electronics Components and Semiconductor Manufacturing companies working to create, implement and promote open e-business process standards. Since its founding in 1998, the consortium has dedicated itself to the development and deployment of standard XML-based electronic commerce interfaces to align the processes between IT supply chain partners on a global basis. Its Basics Program -- a program led by Intel and which includes Hewlett-Packard and Insight -- seeks to enable the affordable adoption of RosettaNet standards for small- and medium-sized companies.

"RosettaNet has always been very good about being responsive to the large electronics and semiconductor companies," said Tim Browne, chief executive officer of Infoteria Worldwide, one of a number of software providers -- including Peregrine/Extricity, Microsoft, NEC TIBCO Software and webMethods -- that have partnered with supply chain companies as part of the RosettaNet Basics effort. "It became clear over the last year that [RosettaNet-compliant] trading partners wanted to make supply chain automation available to the lower tier of their supply chains, but they were virtually unreachable by EDI [Electronic Data Interchange] because of the expense."

Infoteria Corp. Monday was the first to release an XML solution for RosettaNet-compliant supply chain automation. Infoteria's solution is built on its Asteria Platform and consists of three parts: Asteria Enterprise Server, Asteria Planet and Asteria Components.

The Asteria Enterprise Server is aimed directly at the enterprise with a price point of $200,000. It offers a complete suite of pre-built RosettaNet Partner Interface Processes (PIPs), ensuring that trading partners can interact and transact quickly.

"We have built a large degree of flexibility into the server which makes the PIP implementation very easy," said Tim Browne, chief executive officer of Infoteria.

For lower-tier partners, Infoteria is introducing Asteria Planet, which will go for $50,000 and provides a "very rich but limited set of functionalities that a partner can use," Browne said.

"The Planet is an entry-point into the platform family," Browne said. "It is a turnkey solution that really offers a very easy box that you can drop into a trading partner's facility and with a very easy Web-based tool you can have it up and running."

The final piece of the puzzle is Asteria Components, a set of native XML components for specific projects in business process automation. The family of tools includes: iCONNECTOR, for bi-directional transfer of data from operational databases; iXSLT, an XSLT processor to accelerate distribution of XML document information to browsers and mobile computing devices; iPEX, a high-performance XML processing engine that enables XML document integration into application development environments; iMESSENGER, for the management of XML document distribution and receipt via Internet e-mail infrastructure; and iMAKER, which automates the creation of XML documents from spreadsheets.

"Our in-market experience has demonstrated the value of native XML solutions in solving business automation problems," Browne said. "We're presenting the Asteria Platform to meet the business challenges of companies of all sizes that recognize the importance of flexible IT infrastructure if they are to maximize the value of their supply chain. That used to mean that a handful of large corporations only could afford the kind of solution to make supply chain management and expansion a reality. But with the availability of the Asteria Platform, we're ensuring that companies of all sizes participate in the global economy by tiering our offerings to accommodate the level of sophistication and price point appropriate for their supply chain management plans."

The company has already scored a significant supporter of its platform products: Sony Corp.

"We have faced three critical supply chain challenges in our RosettaNet-based VAIO component purchasing network that we needed to solve quickly and cost-effectively," said Yoshihiro Taya, director, corporate senior vice president, Sony EMCS Corporation, Japan. "First, we had to incorporate data from our existing database and EDI systems into RosettaNet compliant XML documents. Second, we had to automate the secure exchange of documents with our partners such as Intel. Third, we needed to accomplish this without relying on expensive, time-consuming, and labor-intensive alternatives. As a result, we decided to choose Infoteria's Asteria Server for RosettaNet. We implemented our Asteria solution, and placed it in production with several important partners, more quickly than we could have implemented another RosettaNet-compliant system."