Big Blue Boosts B-to-B Integration Offerings

SAN MATEO (03/27/2000) - Building on the momentum it built with recent business-to-business deals with Ariba and i2, IBM Corp. this week will debut new software that lets users integrate their internal server software and also link it with trading partners' systems.

With IBM's Websphere Web server and MQSeries messaging software as its foundation, the Websphere B2B Integrator is infused with a new XML-based technology, Trading Partner Agreement Markup Language (tpaML), which lets users exchange e-contracts.

Using tpaML allows businesses to work with one another in an e-marketplace, even if a trading partner is not using Websphere Integrator and has different hardware and software platforms.

"We want to have this inclusive framework where businesses can include business partners, ISVs, and application hosting providers so they can fulfill the complete value chain with their business partners," said Marie Wieck, director of e-markets infrastructure at IBM, in Somers, N.Y.

Wieck said tpaML provides an envelope that helps businesses make a connection between two parties down to the document level, and it helps specify the appropriate connection protocol, such as TCP/IP or HTTP.

The Websphere B2B Integrator also takes advantage of IBM's MQSeries Integrator, which uses an array of XML-based publish-and-subscribe mechanisms. This allows developers to leverage their technology and skills, but also extend those capabilities to a "higher level in terms of business processes and workflow," Wieck said.

IBM plans to use its Websphere Commerce Suite, along with Websphere B2B Integrator, to help suppliers connect to Ariba-and i2-based e-marketplaces. IBM officials said the company will add functions to Commerce Suite this summer, including additional auction capabilities, matchmaking, exchanges, and request for purchase/request for quotation features.

The B2B Integrator contains IBM's Business Protocol Framework, which supplies developers with the fundamental infrastructure to implement tpaML.

In concert with the Websphere B2B Integrator announcement, IBM will announce Visual Age Applications Rules, the first fruits from a relationship that IBM established with Versata last fall.

IBM officials claim the rules-based product (a new programming approach for IBM) helps less-experienced programmers build Java-based Web applications for high-transaction Web sites significantly faster than anything it has made available previously.

Large enterprises "want tools that help development teams work more collaboratively to create applications requiring different types of languages and [integrated development environments]," said Valerie Olague, program director for business transformation product marketing at IBM.

Due in the second quarter, Visual Age Rules will cost $5,000 per development seat, and $30,000 per CPU for the run-time component.

More information can be found at www.software.ibm.com.

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