ObjectSpace Links Business Partners

SAN MATEO (03/20/2000) - Companies seeking a technology platform to integrate with their business partners will have another entrant to consider with the release of ObjectSpace Inc.'s OpenBusiness B2B Solutions line late this month.

The Dallas-based vendor has created business-to-business integration software that will let business partners build applications in a variety of languages and development models, and have them interoperate without recoding, company officials said. The B2B Integration Platform provides the object translation layer via CORBA, DCOM (Distributed Component Object Model), Java, RMI (Remote Method Invocation) and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) protocols.

OnStar, a subsidiary of General Motors that develops in-vehicle computers, is using the integration environment to transition the OnStar service from a call center-based system to the Web, said Bruce Radloff, CIO of OnStar, in Troy, Mich. "We wanted to utilize the same data from a service delivery perspective but access that data through different means."

Later this year, the platform will be ready to let third parties offer services such as hotel lookups to consumers via OnStar's portal.

"It really did enable us to be technology-independent," Radloff said. "The ability to integrate a wide range of different platforms, the agnosticism around COM [Component Object Model], CORBA, CICS, etc., shouldn't limit us from a development standpoint."

ObjectSpace will build on the integration platform with products aimed at tightening integration between companies, officials said.

At the end of the month, the company will release a gateway that manages transactions over the Internet, negotiating various companies' firewalls and VPNs. A portal product, also due in late March, allows partners to subscribe to corporate services.

An XML server will transfer XML documents between partners and the OpenBusiness Process Server will manage the data translation and workflow among companies.

One analyst familiar with the architecture said it appears robust.

"The fact they cover such a wide space of legacy systems helps make it attractive to big companies, but it's going to be a challenge because there are a lot of players in this space," said Scott McLeod, a senior analyst at the Hurwitz Group, in Framingham, Mass., adding that ObjectSpace will face competition from companies like Webmethods and Extricity as well as a plethora of EAI (enterprise application integration) vendors, from BEA to Tibco.

Interoperability will be critical because "it's not feasible that everyone use the same vendor's software," McLeod said.

ObjectSpace, in Dallas, is at www.objectspace.com.

B-to-B clearinghouse

ObjectSpace's OpenBusiness B2B line provides services on top of its Integration Platform.

* Gateway: manages transactions across the Internet, and negotiates access between various firewalls and VPNs* Portal: gives business partners a platform to subscribe to various services and documents* XML Server: provides translation and exchange of business documents.

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