J.D. Edwards launches Web services enterprise apps

J.D. Edwards & Co. on Tuesday started what will be a six-month rollout of J.D. Edwards 5, a component-based suite of enterprise software applications that will incorporate Web services support.

Components include ERP (enterprise resource planning), Supply Chain Management, CRM (customer relationship management), SRM (Supplier Relationship Management), Business Intelligence, Collaboration, and Integration for self-service applications and its middleware tools.

Although the product modules provide "evolutionary" improvements over J.D. Edwards One World enterprise software, company executives believe current and new customers will find two new features particularly attractive: Advanced integration between modules helped along by the use of Web service protocols such as SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and WSDL (Web Services Description Language), and flexible pricing that does not force companies to commit to the entire solution.

"They ruffled the feathers of customers when they converted to suite-based pricing that forced users to buy more than what you needed. It is clear they are now listening to their customers. I can buy just what I need and that is a good thing," said David Hilmer, director of information technology at GrafTech International, in Wilmington, Del. GrafTech, formerly UCar International, is one of the world's largest manufacturers of carbon and graphite products.

The architecture of J.D. Edwards 5 is a service-oriented architecture that separates the application services from data and presentation layers, said Hank Bonde, chief operating officer at J.D. Edwards in Denver.

"As a result of this separation it is easy to take advantage of Web services and to use SOAP to communicate from a service requester to a service provider. We also will use the Web registry UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration), and WSDL (Web Services Description Language) is fundamental," said Bonde.

The simplest example of integration is the fact that any application can now access the address book, noted Bonde.

Web services and Web enablement fits into GrafTech's vision for the future, said Hilmer, pointing out that the company's strategic direction is focused on extending its advanced supply-chain planning out to customers and suppliers.

It is also important from a cost management standpoint, especially for managing the IT infrastructure, for which Hilmer has worldwide responsibility, Hilmer said.

"If I just have to make sure everyone has the right browser, it makes my life easier. A browser is low overhead and lower bandwidth than a LAN," Hilmer said.

It will also reduce the total cost of ownership, especially if his company can drop Citrix by using the Web-enabled J.D. Edwards applications.

The ERP solution will be available next month, the CRM offering by the end of the year, and the supply-chain management module will ship in two stages -- one next month and the second by the end of the year.

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