Ariba builds Web services momentum

Ariba has unveiled plans to Web service enable its core Ariba Buyer application in addition to announcing a number of customer and partner wins for its Spend Management suite of applications.

The deals include an expanded sales and technology partnership with IBM Corp. and Saqqara Systems Inc. plus customer wins with Amtrak (National Railroad Passenger Corp.), Rochester Gas & Electric Corp., and 3M Corp., Ariba executives reported Monday at the Ariba LIVE 2002 conference in Anaheim, California.

The Ariba supplier module currently allows users to integrate its suppliers using Web services, using XML (Extensible Markup Language) over HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) as a communication mechanism between applications and between buyers and suppliers.

"That was Web services before it was called Web services," said Martin Boyd, director of product marketing at Ariba.

The Ariba Supplier Network has close to 25,000 suppliers who use the current architecture to receive purchase orders and send invoices.

"We are now making the Ariba Buyer application Web service enabled on an incremental approach as customers request it," said Sundar Raghavan, Sunnyvale, California-based Ariba's vice president of product marketing.

Ariba Buyer Version 8, due out in the fourth quarter, will support SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), running on application servers such as IBM's WebSphere and BEA's WebLogic.

"The benefit of our supplier application is it defines the XML format and the data elements within that. Given that level of standardization users can scale up implementations very quickly. They can bring on a new buyer within one, two, or three days. If they had to do direct connect for integration, that is the order of several weeks and a lot of pain," said Boyd.

The Ariba Spend Management Suite includes spend and contract analysis, sourcing management, and a procurement product to help companies capture and analyze unmanaged spend.

The next version is expected to ship in the fourth quarter and will expand on the current capabilities. "In the fall we will move our spend analysis solution to more of a spend management strategy tool to not only evaluate spend but analyze supplier performance and help companies define sourcing strategy," said Sundar Raghavan, vice president of product marketing for Ariba, in Sunnyvale, Calif.

In the fall Ariba will also enhance its collaboration tools to include internal collaboration between manufacturing, engineering, legal, and finance within a company. To help companies capture unmanaged spend, Ariba will add a contract management component to the Spend Management suite.

Meanwhile, Ariba's deal with IBM will see it expand its global sales alliance with IBM Global Services to include Ariba's ESM (Enterprise Spend Management) solution. The company also said it will use IBM DB2 as its primary Unix development platform for future generations of the Spend Management suite.

"A powerful database platform is fundamental for developing and deploying a powerful Enterprise Spend Management solution," said Michael Schmitt, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Ariba.

Product and content management company Saqqara Systems, based in San Jose, California, also announced it will work with Ariba to allow its content management applications to interoperate with Ariba's Spend Management solutions.

Ariba has also announced a number of large customer wins. Amtrak, based in Washington, will deploy the Ariba Buyer Procurement application, which is one component of its Spend Management suite, out to 3,000 Amtrak procurement specialists.

In trials, Mike Rienzi, senior vice president, procurement and administration for Amtrak, said the application is already reducing purchasing cycles and procurement cycles but did not quantify the results.

Rochester Gas & Electric will also use components of Ariba's ESM package to analyze corporate spend.

As a strategic move, 3M is increasing its use of the Ariba Buyer in order to consolidate its supplier base in the European market.

Joachim Dietrick, European procurement process manager at 3M, said the use of Ariba is part of a strategy to reduce overall corporate spend by as much as US$500 million within two years.

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