STC Updates Integration Tools

Software Technologies Corp. (STC) has added high-level business logic tools and an open message architecture to its redesigned suite of enterprise application integration tools. Customers and industry analysts generally praised the new suite, called eGate 4.0, but said it isn't a unique or one-stop tool.

EGate's distributed Web-based architecture was designed to help companies quickly tie together disparate applications and data sources and integrate them with new e-commerce applications. The upgrade is STC's latest entry in the market for prepackaged enterprise application integration (EAI) tools.

Corporate mergers and acquisitions, increased investment in customer service front ends and the rush to put up e-commerce sites are driving the demand for EAI. EAI was a $312 million market in 1998, and it is growing by nearly 100% annually, according to market research firm International Data Corp. (IDC) in Framingham, Mass..

However, one potential eGate customer said the one-size-fits-all EAI tool is still a dream. The Principal Financial Group in Des Moines, Iowa, is currently evaluating three EAI products to integrate legacy applications in a single interface to customers, said Scott Daughhetee, a senior systems analyst at the company.

He said that while eGate generally delivers on its promises, it can't, for example, fully automate "fork-and-join'' processes, in which two parallel functions must finish before a later step, such as committing a record to a master file, can be completed.

"It can be represented in eGate but is not automated, so I have to write a little code to do it," he said. But eGate reduces the amount of code he must write, said Daughhetee.

Lekha Rao, an EAI practice manager at Electronic Data Systems Corp.'s Troy, Mich., division, said EDS probably will use eGate.

STC has scrapped the hub-and-spoke architecture of its earlier DataGate product and now distributes integration services across the network to help eGate scale with the number of Web transactions.

New Era of Networks Inc. (NEON) in Englewood, Colo., unveiled its entry in the field, e-Biz Integrator, last September. E-Biz Integrator lets developers control integration at the level of workflow process, such as credit authorization and inventory management.

STC ranks sixth in EAI market share, behind Tibco Software Inc., NEON, Viewlocity, TSI Software Ltd. and IBM, said IDC analyst Ed Acly.

EGate 4.0, which started shipping Sept. 30, is available for less than $100,000 for pilot projects, but full installations can cost millions of dollars.

Essex is a freelance writer in Antrim, N.H.

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