B-to-B E-Commerce Gets Network Management

SAN MATEO (08/04/2000) - Increasing interest in business-to-business exchanges has spurred a need for companies to monitor network and transaction performance across many trading partners' connected systems.

Traditional network management vendors have taken notice and are reworking their core system and network management platforms to operate within emerging trading networks, many of which may be formed on the fly.

BMC Software Inc. fired the first shot this week with details of its new b-to-b company focus and planned b-to-b product releases. The Houston-based company will offer customers a vertical enterprise view of front-and back-office applications, supply chains, and Web infrastructure, said Bob Beauchamp, senior vice president of BMC.

The idea of tackling cross-organizational management issues in the b-to-b exchange realm has not yet been addressed, said Corey Ferengul, program director of service management strategies at Meta Group Inc., in Stamford, Conn.

"Even if everyone in the [supply] chain doesn't use the same management tools, BMC still wants to be delivering value -- which means a lot of remote management and remote monitoring and a big part of that will be data consolidation," Ferengul said.

In the next six months, BMC will extend its flagship software management product, Patrol, to manage CRM (customer relationship management) apps from Siebel and b-to-b apps from i2 and Ariba. By the first quarter of next year, Patrol will manage Commerce One, BroadVision, MySap.com, IBM WebSphere, BEA WebLogic, Microsoft BizTalk 2000, and Commerce 2000.

Tivoli is gearing for the b-to-b exchange realm by working with IBM's Global Services unit, its MQSeries message queuing middleware, and WebSphere application server to create a management system for auditing, user-account management, single-sign-on and provisioning of user rights, said Kate Brew, director of eMarketplace solutions at Austin, Texas-based Tivoli. Users can expect new Tivoli eMarketplace products out by year's end, Brew said.

Because many aspiring b-to-b players still rely heavily on legacy systems and outdated purchasing applications, customization is essential, noted Sue Aldrich, senior consultant at Boston-based Patricia Seybold Group.

Computer Associates will use its mainframe management expertise to support b-to-b customers creating a Web front end to the transaction engine at the back end of their systems, according to Trevor Kemp, vice president of Network and Internet Management at CA, based in Islandia, N.Y.

Hewlett-Packard announced in June four new OpenView product categories to manage b-to-b exchanges, including Web application servers, buy-and sell-side of applications due this week, and CRM and supply chain due in 2001.

Exchange management

A number of concerns must be addressed in b-to-b networks.

* Access control lists and security

* User account management and audits

* Have users been dropped in midtransaction?

* Has an order been abandoned midstream?

* Where and why is there a failure?

* Is availability at desirable speed?

* Service-level agreements.

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