Object Design Reinvents Itself as eXcelon

SAN MATEO (01/28/2000) - IN A SIGNIFICANT reinvention of itself, Object Design has shed its name and its object-oriented database focus to become eXcelon Corp., a vendor of XML integration software for the business-to-business realm.

The move into the business-to-business sector is not an abandonment of the object database market, where the former Object Design's flagship ObjectStore object-oriented database dominates, said Steve Lafferty, director of marketing at eXcelon. In fact, the vendor first began offering an XML application environment that runs on ObjectStore, dubbed eXcelon, last year.

The XML-based business-to-business market presents a far greater opportunity, Lafferty said. "B-to-B is being fueled by XML."

The new focus is bolstered by the debut of eXcelon's business-to-business Integration Server. The key feature of the server is an XML translator that will interpret and parse all of the current and emerging industry-specific variations of XML, eXcelon officials said.

With the new XML Integration Server, eXcelon is trying to achieve "dynamic" business-to-business links, said Anne Thomas Manes, a senior analyst at the Patricia Seybold Group, in Boston.

The eXcelon approach is dynamic because its translator attempts to accommodate whatever flavor of XML comes at it, rather than requiring business partners to use the same XML variation, Manes said.

The business-to-business Integration Server also features support for business process workflow that provides a systems-level view of internal-to-external business-to-business streams, eXcelon's Lafferty said.

To provide business-to-business connections to internal ERP (enterprise resource planning) and MRP (manufacturing resource planning) suites, eXcelon is providing EAI (enterprise application integration) modules, middleware from a third party that Lafferty declined to name.

An eSolutions group will focus on vertical markets such as insurance, banking, retail, telecommunications, and manufacturing, according to company officials.

While observers said that this shift makes sense, there is no guarantee that a former object database company will glide easily into the role of an applications provider. For instance, customers have different demands in terms of support.

"I think they put a stake down in fertile ground," said Philip Russom, director of data warehousing and business intelligence at the Hurwitz Group, in Framingham, Mass. "But they may be crossing more of a chasm than they think."eXcelon Corp., in Burlington, Mass., is at www.exceloncorp.com.

Object Design evolves into eXcelon

* 1988: Object Design founded in Burlington, Mass.

* 1990: ObjectStore object-oriented database ships* 1996: Object Design's IPO* 1998: The eXcelon XML application development environment announced* 1999: eXcelon ships* 2000: Object Design becomes eXcelonThe eXcelon products* The ObjectStore: Object-oriented database* The eXcelon business-to-business product line

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