New WebSphere Software Serves B2B Integration Needs

Continuing its sweeping treatment of integration software across its
WebSphere line, IBM Monday unveiled refreshed a product to
help business-to-business (B2B) trading companies merge internal
applications for greater efficiency.

B2B business trading communities are often hectic environments where
partners, suppliers, and customers go to do business. Because so many
different parties are taking part in this experience, it is common for
disparate types of applications and processes to be used.

There is order triggering, which is connected to enterprise resource
planning (ERP) and the supply chain, to take into account. This can get
confusing and problematic because of interoperability issues between legacy
and new-school software.

IBM believes this WebSphere Business Integration Connect version 4.2
software can help solve these compatibility issues and ultimately streamline
the supply chain.

Paraic Sweeney, vice president of marketing, Web services division at IBM,
said the new software will help trading communities in several vertical
markets, such as electronics or retail, streamline business operations.

“There is not a clear distinction between internal and external business
integration needs,” Sweeney said. “B2B connection needs to support a range
of those. Once customers have systems in operation they are very loathe to
take them offline.”

Sweeney said Connect 4.2 will be accompanied by services from Viacore, which
specializes in integration services for private trading communities. IBM
will provide Connect 4.2 while Viacore will provide services on a
step-by-step basis to the customers’ trading partners in each stage as these
customers build their community.

Redmonk Senior Analyst Stephen O’Grady said the announcement is further
proof of the accelerated competition between IBM and rivals HP and Sun Microsystems in the integration space.

“This move is indeed another proof point of IBM’s recent focus on
integration as an important battleground in the enterprise platform provider
market. With BEA’s Platform increasingly integration focused approach and
Sun’s forthcoming Orion product including significant integration
functionality as part of the package, integration is an area that many of
the leading platform vendors are now viewing as a competitive
differentiator,” O’Grady said.

One of the new product features includes InstallShield, which makes
installation faster, easier and more secure. Another is the Community
Participant Simulator function, which a customer can use to
test its community integration prior to deployment to gauge effectiveness.

WebSphere Business Integration Connect will be available in three editions,
including an “Express” edition for small and medium businesses that want to
integrate with a small number of trading partners as quickly as possible; an
advanced edition
for companies that want to connect to a growing number of trading partners;
and a business-class enterprise edition, which is like the advanced edition,
but is priced to manage larger trading communities.

WebSphere Business Integration Connect will be available in the third
quarter of 2003. Pricing will be announced at the time.

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