BEA enhancing integration, portals

BEA Systems on Tuesday announced 30 BEA-branded integration adapters for linking applications via the company's WebLogic Integration software as well as 20 portlets that add functionality to portals developed in the WebLogic Portal platform.

The adapters, based on JCA (Java Connector Architecture), enable access to applications or databases, said Pat O'Haren, senior director of product marketing at BEA, in San Jose, Calif. Due by the end of the month, the adapters are for applications such as SAP R/3, Siebel, PeopleSoft, Oracle applications, and J.D. Edwards. Customers, for example, could take data from a Siebel application and make it accessible to an SAP system.

Other adapters are for compliance to industry standards such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and the SWIFT data format for financial institutions. With the new adapters, BEA will have more than 150 integration adapters available.

JCA replaces costly, proprietary adapters, O'Haren said.

"Until recently, most of the adapters in these types of applications have been done on a proprietary basis. That approach has resulted in a lot of costs for developing these adapters as well as cost [and] complexity of managing these applications," O'Haren said.

Slated to ship at the end of the month, the adapters could be used in Web services-based applications, he said.

Adapters range in price from US$20,000 for a database adapter to $50,000 for an SAP or PeopleSoft adapter, according to BEA.

With its adapters BEA is filling a need that formerly was to have been met by third-party vendor Peregrine, which dropped out of the market, said Shawn Willett, principal analyst at Current Analysis, based in Sterling, Va. "This is something BEA needed to do. They needed to come up with their own technology," Willett said.

BEA still will face an uphill battle against IBM, which has its MQSeries and Crossroads integration technologies, Willett said. However, BEA will benefit from building its adapters on industry standards and supporting Web services, he said.

"As these Java-based integration technologies mature, then BEA's integration is going to get better," Willett said.

BEA is emphasizing that customers are increasingly combining integration software, such as adapters and business process management, with portals and custom applications to enable users to act on information within the context of roles and interact with multiple back-end systems. Standards such as JCA and Web services enable reductions in the cost and complexity of integration.

Portlets enable new functionality in portals. New components include portlets for whiteboard and chat from Compoze Software. Venetica is providing a portlet known as Content Provider for BEA WebLogic Portal, which features a set of portlets for collaboration and integration with content stored on Windows file servers. Prices of the portlets vary based on the providers.

In related news and as part of its continuing quest to advance the application server as an alternative for integration over traditional EAI platforms, BEA also announced a new multi-channel CRM solution designed to provide a single view of the customer by connecting sales, marketing, services, Web, and back-end systems. BEA developed CRM Connect in conjunction with CRM services company Roundarch and Deloitte Consulting. It is based on the BEA WebLogic Enterprise Platform, the Roundarch Enabling Technology Platform, and Deloitte's Value Map Methodology. Using CRM Connect, which is based on Java, J2EE, XML, and open standards, enterprises can create a fully integrated view of their customers to deliver better service across multiple channels, said John Gray, BEA vice president of worldwide alliances.

The initial phase integrates with SAP and Siebel for customer and order information, with subsequent phases to include additional processes and applications, which can be extended to other enterprise and legacy systems. Through real-time integration of front- and back-office operations and a foundation for advanced customer analytics, CRM Connect helps companies reduce the cost of service and improve profitability for each customer with one complete CRM solution, Gray said.

"What we have done is build the solution stack offering ... that enables companies to leverage that investment in Siebel or SAP," Gray said. "It brings all the different channels of a company together ... based on the legacy data. In a market where you've got CIOs of organizations who are down on budget, down on resources ... they're looking to maximize their investment in their Siebel implementation or their SAP implementation."

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