BEA ties up with Mercator

BEA Systems Inc. and Mercator Software Inc. on Tuesday embarked on a deal that ties Mercator’s integration broker and out-of-the-box vertical integration applications to BEA’s WebLogic application server.

The partnership mirrors a trend in which platform vendors such as BEA, IBM Corp., and Sun Microsystems Inc. are adding integration servers and services to their stacks, putting pressure on traditional EAI (enterprise application integration) companies such as Tibco Software Inc., Vitria Technology Inc., and webMethods Inc. Also hastening the integration push is the widely held view that Web services will significantly alter and simplify the integration landscape — not to mention lower the cost.

The BEA-Mercator deal targets several pre-packaged vertical solutions from Mercator, including one that supports global straight-through processing of transactions within the financial services industry; healthcare claims and processing, as well as HIPAA-related standards integration; and EDI (electronic data interchange) and XML integration for manufacturing, retail, and distribution industries. These integration products help companies automate business processes to provide a more fluid exchange of information among customers and partners, according to Mercator officials.

“Mercator’s strategy sees the infrastructure players such as BEA as the key influencers in a customer’s quest for integration, but that customers also want to buy that integration from best-of-breed vertical players,” said Jill Donohoe, senior vice president of global alliances and corporate development. “We see this as a marriage of two leaders in those spaces.”

Such pre-built business processes offer a simpler, more cost-effective way for companies to phase in integration projects across parts of their enterprise, according to analysts.

“[These vertical components] predefine everything for you,” said Joanne Friedman, senior analyst at Meta Group Inc. “They are business processes or pre-packaged applications with specific use in mind. This gets you out of the quagmire of needing huge EAI integration capabilities, and then deciding how to build systems to address business problems.”

Friedman said that while such systems are not totally plug and play, customization requirements are minimal, with perhaps as little as 10 percent of the implementation needing to be tailored for a specific company’s needs.

The vertical approach to integration is becoming an approach across a variety of major industry players, including Vitria, Iona Technologies PLC, IBM, and Tibco, according to Friedman. On Monday, for example, IBM introduced its WebSphere Business Integration for industries solution, which involves pre-built business process templates for a variety of specific industries.

The BEA-Mercator deal is non-exclusive and effective immediately.