Bowstreet Offers Plug-and-Play Web Services

SAN MATEO (03/20/2000) - Believing it potentially will change the way companies start and expand Web-based businesses, XML vendor Bowstreet.com Inc. announced last week its Business Web Exchange that can tie together a variety of Web site services to form interconnected businesses in a matter of hours.

The new XML-based technology behind Exchange replaces the traditional model that IT shops follow in building customized busines-to-business applications line by line, officials said.

The technology will allow business managers without technical assistance to go to Exchange and "snap" specific Web services into their business-to-business systems to automate the creation of customized and dynamic Web marketplaces.

Company officials believe this could save IT shops millions of dollars spent on customized Web development projects.

"We think Business Web Exchange will lead to the death of applications," said Bob Crowley, president and CEO of Bowstreet. "Applications have to have APIs, and have to be hard-wired into your system. With this technology you just dynamically use a service when you need it and then get rid it of it."

Several examples shown last week include an online auto exchange that finds and obtains a financial institution's car loan Web services and immediately offers financing to buyers of new cars.

Although most analysts think Exchange offers a nice way to integrate external services into an e-commerce environment, some caution that it may involve more work.

"This is the publish-and-subscribe model Bowstreet has advocated where XML can just suck [services] up into whatever apps users have. But the fact [that] there are not any embedded processes means there can be a lot of work in setting up exchanges," said Laurie Orlov, research director of e-business applications at Forrester Research, in Cambridge, Mass.

Bowstreet officials also announced they intend to build a community around the Exchange, unveiling 30 companies that have already committed to publishing their Web services on Exchange.

Once business managers blend a variety of acquired Web services together, they can then deploy them in a number of unique combinations to their business partners, suppliers, and users, officials said.

Because the Web-based services are XML-driven, any company can almost instantly connect their back-end systems to a partner's system to automate a number of business processes over the Internet without any IT intervention, Bowstreet officials claim.

Exchange is expected to go live sometime during the second quarter of this year.

In addition to the announcement of Exchange, Bowstreet also took the wraps off its Business Web Factory 2.0. Version 2.0 will combine a blend of XML, directories, and patent-pending automation to offer business Web capabilities.

Also as part of last week's announcements, Bowstreet signed a deal to work together with Vitria Technology to offer what they both hope will be an end-to-end solution that allows companies to more quickly automate their back-end processes. The aim is to enable companies to send their results across the Web as part of what Bowstreet and Vitria are calling customized "business Webs,"potentially serving thousands of users, partners, and suppliers.

Bowstreet, in Portsmouth, N.H., is at www.bowstreet.com.

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