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Commerce One's Conductor Rides New Rails

Commerce One Monday released the latest version of its composite process management (CPM) platform to forge business processes that combine features, data or context from applications to foster new functionality.

Commerce One Conductor gives enterprise customers a flexible platform on which to build various software tools. Its architecture makes many applications viewable through a single graphical user interface (GUI), paring the time and cost of writing and using composite applications, as compared to employing myriad business process management (BPM), enterprise application integration (EAI), portals, identity management and various design tools.

Users of the platform insist Conductor differs from other EAI keystones because vendors of those platforms only supply one or two of the facets of a management platform, as opposed to a full suite of EAI, BPM and portal functionality.

The platform employs a Web services-based "registry" that relies on UDDI and XML Common Business Library (XCBL) and is policy-based, allowing greater control over the cost of ongoing change and maintenance.

Many software companies, such as IBM, Plumtree, webMethods or Tibco, have the ingredients for BPM, EAI or portal platforms, but few roll the three into one mix built on a Web services architecture. Pleasanton, Calif.'s Commerce One is looking to differentiate itself from other vendors by focusing on a blended, or composite approach.

Jeff Watts, vice president of marketing at Commerce One, summed up the goal of Commerce One with its Conductor platform.

"The message and technology is giving people the key type of platform to work business process management together, but be flexibile enough to their customer needs, so they can say 'let me have what I want now and turn it into what I need as times change.'"

He also noted that Commerce One recognizes Web services as a foundation and not a market like many competitors treat it.

Because the BPM, EAI and portal facets of the application lifecycle are bundled as one product, it is estimated that Conductor can cut the cost and time of initial process development and integration efforts in half.

IDC recently conducted a total-cost-of-ownership analysis, finding that Conductor does indeed cut out some of the middlemen in the application creation lifecycle.

Sandra Rogers, director of Web Services and Integration Software at IDC, said using a registry-based platform, as opposed to a hodge-podge of discrete tools, such as stand-alone integration brokers, portals and development tools, can help gain efficiencies across the entire composite application lifecycle.

Sanjay Chikarmane, vice president of product marketing at Commerce One, said features previously unavailable in Conductor that have popped up in the latest iteration, 6.5, include an Integrated Design Center built on the Eclipse project framework that integrates user interface design, process definition and business logic development using a drag-and-drop tool.

Chikarmane said Conductor 6.5 is also now interoperable with over 200 enterprise applications and EAI infrastructures and now includes support for Sun's Solaris operating system and the WebSphere application server.

The software platform's scalability has also been increased in the new version; the registry boasts more than 70 business documents and has two new process accelerators in the mix for future versions, contract compliance and manufacturing.

Since the launch of its first version last March, over 15 companies have used it to pare development costs, including Eastman Chemical, EDS, Open GIS Consortium (OGC), Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) of Taiwan, Schlumberger, the Saskatchewan Property Management Corporation (SPMC), mymarket and Enporion.