Eye on the integration pie

Enterprise application vendors are bolstering their integration efforts and, in so doing, are moving into the realm of the traditional EAI players.

On Monday at its Connect 2002 user conference, PeopleSoft Inc. will take the wraps off a suite designed to simplify integration. By using Web services, the AppsConnect suite makes it easier to tie together business processes across integration, warehouse, and portal programs from multiple vendors, according to PeopleSoft officials.

"One out of three dollars in IT budgets goes to integration. That is the largest cost in any implementation," said Rick Bergquist, CTO of Pleasanton, Calif.-based PeopleSoft. "Our goal is to remove those costs."

PeopleSoft's AppConnect comes on the heels of similar initiatives by SAP AG and Siebel Systems Inc. SAP in June announced xApps, a breed of applications designed to span company boundaries and integrate business processes via Web services. Siebel in April launched its Universal Application Network, also designed to integrate applications from multiple vendors.

"The [enterprise application] companies want a piece of the integration pie, and they definitely have a role to play," said Shawn Willett, an analyst at Current Analysis Inc. in Sterling, Va. "The [challenge] they have is integration with competitors."

Traditional EAI players such as webMethods Inc., SeeBeyond Technology Corp., Tibco Software Inc., and Vitria Technology Inc. are not standing still. Last week, Fairfax, Va.-based webMethods touted two new solutions that infuse rigid, batch-process EDI with collaborative capabilities. Meanwhile, Monrovia, Calif.-based SeeBeyond is enhancing its Business Integration Suite in anticipation of an upgrade in early 2003.webMethods Solution Suite for Collaborative EDI leverages BPM (business process management) to enhance EDI document exchange with more complex business interactions. With its EDI play, webMethods appears to be "moving back to its roots" of b-to-b integration, after nearly a year of focusing on internal enterprise integration, said Jon Derome, an analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston.

"Both webMethods' and SeeBeyond's news indicates a renewed interest in interenterprise technologies in a market that rose too quickly in '98 and '99 and probably fell further than it should have in 2001 and 2002," Derome said.

SeeBeyond's Business Integration Suite 4.5.3, slated to be available this week, adds more standards support in its eXchange Partner Manager for vertical industry specifications and includes improved features such as event scheduling, exception handling, performance monitoring, JMS (Java Message Service) support, and business process automation.

A forthcoming version of Business Integration Suite, due out in the first quarter and tentatively named 5.0, will accelerate support for both J2EE and .Net platforms, as well as UDDI.

Michael Vizard contributed to this article.

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