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ICAN Try To Take Your Business

Officials at enterprise application integrator (EAI) SeeBeyond are extending credit to IBM customers who switch to its integration software platform.

The move is the second time in recent months the Monrovia, Calif.-based, company has launched an aggressive campaign to steal market share from another EAI provider in a crowded software sector. In late November, SeeBeyond offered credits to people who migrated away from webMethods .

The credit campaign runs until the end of June and applies to comparable modules within IBM's WebSphere and SeeBeyond's Integrated Composite Application Network (ICAN) 5.0.

ICAN 5.0 was released in March 2003 and includes 85 adaptors to third-party applications, a portal tool and programming-free business activity monitors (BAM).

Officials say their ICAN product, in the market for 12 years (back when EAI software was called an integration engine), is better at integrating WebSphere than the tools offered by IBM. While ICAN's J2EE-certified software can and does run natively on the WebSphere application server, IBM's integration software doesn't.

Ross Altman, SeeBeyond's CTO, said IBM's accumulation of software under the WebSphere moniker, combined namely as a branding exercise, has left its customers with a bevy of applications that aren't tightly integrated, creating problems for anyone implementing the software.

"Literally, these things are integrated in name only; if you take WebSphere off the CD, there's nothing that makes these products work together," Altman told internetnews.com. "Their primary integration tool, WebSphere Business Integrator, is the old CrossWorlds product, it does not run on WebSphere and will not for two to three years."

On the other hand, Altman said, SeeBeyond's integration platform, ICAN, can save customers 30 to 40 percent in integration costs because it uses one set of metadata, one repository and one development environment.

SeeBeyond's credit campaign is just one of many positioning strategies underway in the EAI space among software vendors, with the goal of wooing customers away from their current provider.

Generally speaking, competitive upgrading -- which grabs the attention of potential and existing EAI customers -- isn't always effective, said Shawn Willett, Current Analysis Research application infrastructure analyst. He points to Oracle's strategy of offering competitive upgrades to the customers of competitors like Siebel.

"It's usually not a smart thing for customers to do," he told internetnews.com. "These offers get people's attention, and I'm sure that some people will take advantage of it, but I think it's problematic to rip out something and put something new" in its place.

Willett said SeeBeyond's goal isn't to rip-and-replace, but to give potential customers the chance to make gradual changes, first trying out the software on new projects and implementing it incrementally through the company if they like what they see. SeeBeyond's Altman said that since the launch of its credit program for webMethods customers in November, it has received about 60 calls from interested customers, with five or six currently in the "sales process," he said. None of them, he said, has signed up for a contract yet.

Altman also doesn't expect a huge influx of webMethods or IBM customers, mainly because customers didn't initially do their homework before settling on an EAI software package.

"We don't expect that dozens and dozens of people will do this because you have to admit that you're wrong, but there will be some," he said.

SeeBeyond marked their fourth quarter 2003 finances with 20.3 million in software license revenues, nearly double its third quarter numbers. Its customers include DuPont, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard and Samsung.

As Willett pointed out, the offer does grab the market's attention, which is what EAI providers are trying to accomplish in a tight market. The major players in the field -- IBM, BEA Systems , webMethods and SeeBeyond -- each have their strategy. Recently, webMethods and BEA got into a press release war over who provided the faster lab tests.

SeeBeyond itself will continue to target EAI competitors with its credit program. IBM and webMethods aren't the last, and Altman said the company will soon open up the program to BEA customers, though he wouldn't mention a specific timeframe.

"BEA has a nice application server - a lot of people have it, a lot of people are happy with it," Altman said. "But their integration technology is relatively new; we've been around for 13 years, BEA for maybe three years. I'd like to think our product reflects that added maturity."