IBM debuts updated WebSphere Commerce

Trying to give its WebSphere Commerce product a boost, IBM Corp. on Monday rolled out a new version intended to allow mid-size and larger companies to more easily integrate the product with a variety of back-end ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management), and SCM (supply-chain management) systems.

Designed as an out-of-the-box integration solution, the IBM CrossWorlds Extender for WebSphere Commerce reportedly makes it easier for users to track orders, manage inventories, and ship goods to customers.

"A lot of our WebSphere Commerce users are telling us they need to integrate their commerce Web channel with their existing back-end ERP systems for things like synching processes and information around their product information, fulfillment, and inventorying. We think incorporating the CrossWorld's technology makes this happen easier," said Steve Gatto, WebSphere Commerce Integration Manager, in Portland Ore.

All of the constituent parts of the IBM CrossWorlds Extender for WebSphere Commerce are built around open standards, including J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) and XML, according to Gatto. By basing the product's architecture on Java, it makes it easier for developers to add or customize features for their individual business needs, he added.

Some analysts believe the market that the new product is going after will be increasingly profitable. IDC in a recent report said the business integration market will be worth US$4.3 billion by 2006.

However, many users have been slow to gravitate to such products. In a similar report released by The Hurwitz Group Inc., only 35 percent of companies surveyed said they had any sort of integration process installed.

One reason for the slow uptake could be the complexity in deciding which approach to take and executing that strategy, Gatto believes.

"We got consistent feedback from users all the time, [from] those line-of-business executives who make commerce buying decisions that solutions are complex, expensive, or both," Gatto said.

Among its users that have implemented the product, IBM officials believe that the new product can reduce initial costs anywhere from 30 percent to 70 percent, depending on their implementation.

"We have done some work to pre-configure this solution for WebSphere Commerce, which in the end requires a lot less services and custom coding for our users to integrate with their Commerce channel and their existing enterprise apps they are running," Gatto said.

The product is expected to be available by the end of this year's third quarter and is expected to carry a price tag of $150,000.

User can get more information about the product at www.ibm.com/software.

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