Grand Central’s Next Stop: Improved Web Services

Business integration services provider Grand Central
Communications Monday
revved up its efforts to be a full integration
services broker with the
addition of an improved user interface, its own business
process execution language and a Web services directory for its
platform.


The company released its Grand Central Business
Services Network Release
4.0, touting it as a complete stack for companies that
want to connect,
create, share and manage business processes without a lot of programming or configuring.


The San Francisco-based company employs the
“software-as-service” model made
popular by SalesForce.com. But unlike that company,
which pipes customer
relationship management software to customers, Grand
Central helps companies
integrate their business processes in days or weeks
instead of months.


Of course, Web services, which
allow applications to
communicate with each other to perform a variety of
tasks, such as
processing purchase orders, are a huge part of
business processes.


Grand Central Communication Vice President of Products
John Linney said that
while some modern-day software platforms are geared to
manage or tie Web
services together, Grand Central aims to help all
sorts of business
processes and disparate products interoperate.


A big selling point, Linney told
internetnews.com, is that Grand
Central offers such capabilities without the risk and
investment of
hardware, software, staffing, consultants and
maintenance fees.


To wit, Grand Central Director of Product Management
Byrne Reese said that
the “heart,” of network services 4.0 is a full
business services directory,
allowing customers to find and share services and
business processes
privately or publicly on the network in real-time.


With the directory services such as tax calculations
or credit checks can be
developed by an enterprise or Grand Central and
published to the directory.
Disparate communications styles can be mapped into Web
service requests, so
services can talk to B2B, EDI and
enterprise resource planning
(ERP) systems.


The refurbished platform also enables service-based
business process
orchestration and deployment for customers and
partners to allow them to
model, combine, customize and publish processes.


The company has developed a kind of Business Process
Execution Language for
everyone, or BPEL4e. Ostensibly, this is Grand
Central’s service-based
implementation of BPEL Version 1.1, the main impetus
for
“integration-as-a-service,” Reese told
internetnews.com.


BPEL4e incorporates standards into a business process
in a single execution
environment, from traditional EDI or FTP-enabled
endpoints to more modern
SOAP-enabled endpoints.


The 4.0 platform also uses a business process visual modeling tool,
GC ProcessExpress, to
manage legacy software and systems. Users may visually
model and create
“drag-and-drop” business processes as well as assemble
and deploy message
routes for services.


Reese also said the new Grand Central’s has taken
measures to improve the
usability of its business services network. 4.0
features self-service
integration where software is configured instead of
hand-coded. Because the
software is Web-based, it allows business processes to
be run in the network
without requiring major investments in hardware and
software.


The improved Web interface can also be customized to
present a branded
version of the network to their customers and
partners, with their own logo
and color palette.

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