E2open looks to ease integration

E2open LLC is working with IBM Corp. to develop a Web services-based plan to make it easier for the electronics industry to integrate with E2open's collaboration network, the company announced Tuesday.

In addition, E2open and IBM are working together to expand requirements for Web services scalability and ease of deployment to support integration efforts in the electronics industry.

Previously, the companies have worked together to address Web services security and to build a UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration) process directory.

The new product, a lightweight Web services solution that companies can install behind their firewall, will be based on IBM's WebSphere Business Connection Software. It will be available later this year.

"What we are aiming for with IBM is to allow you with three clicks to download, install, and connect to the network," said Lorenzo Martinelli, vice president of marketing and strategy at E2open. "In the future, what a customer can do is take an existing application ... and publish it to our network."

For example, a manufacturer and a supplier could leverage Web services to do real-time updates to product renderings on a PDM (product data management) system, he said.

"People want to do it automatically -- let me automatically have my PDM send it through the network to my suppliers," he said. "The customer could publish approval functionality as a Web service to his suppliers. The response could automatically fly back to the PDM system from the supplier."

It is important to make it easier for companies to connect to E2open, said Tim Clark, a partner at the FactPoint Grop, an IT research firm in Los Altos, Calif.

"Their first 16 members are also investors," he said. "It makes it possible to move on to the next tier of potential members. The companies that need the help most will be the suppliers to these E2open members."

E2open and IBM addressed Web services security in May 2001 with E2open leveraging IBM's Tivoli security software. The two companies then built a UDDI-based process directory later in 2001 for the high technology industry.

E2open is designed to support the entire product life cycle -- including design, manufacturing, and procurement -- for system manufacturers, contract manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers.

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