Corel plunges feet-first into Web services

In an effort to re-focus its attention to the enterprise space and slightly away from the retail sector, Corel Corp. has introduced Deepwhite, a line of software geared at content creation products. In part, the company has joined a growing list of organizations to enter the Web services market.

The Web services drive is being propelled by XML (extensible markup language) and open standards that allow businesses to use the technologies without having to be burdened with formatting for reuse on different platforms or devices. Some of the features of the Deepwhite enterprise content platform include: process management tools, Web services and components, a development toolkit for building custom content solutions and a framework for producing interactive applications.

But as a company spokesperson alluded, Corel’s goals are not completely centred on the Web services market with the launching of Deepwhite.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s Web services we’re going after. They do play a part in our smart content offering that we’re working on, but more generally (Deepwhite’s focused on) the enterprise space. On the Web services side – the evolution of some of these technologies, like XML and smart content, is moving us towards Web services,” said Ian LeGrow, executive vice-president of product strategy at Corel in Ottawa.

As he explained, smart content is built on XML and uses it to create intelligent graphic solutions, such as a chart or an interface, while reducing the overall cost of content creation. Smart content is also reusable and can be generated dynamically, he added.

While the bulk of the offerings won’t be available until later in the year, Ventura – a publishing, page layout and design application – is now readily accessible.

Deepwhite is the third in a series of business divisions Corel has formed as part of its ongoing restructuring effort, which included closing the division that created Corel’s Linux desktop operating system. With offerings such as CorelDraw and WordPerfect, which remain focused on the small business user, the unveiling of the procreate line of software to compete in the professional design software market was part of the company’s, ”strategy to move into the enterprise market.”

And with the .NET versus J2EE debate continuing, Corel’s decision regarding which platform to run on was simplified in October 2000 when Microsoft invested US$135 million in Corel. Under the terms of that deal, Corel agreed to upgrade its software to include support for .NET.

But as one industry analyst surmised, while Web services are keeping the “techno-geeks’ blood circulating” during an otherwise dull technology year, they aren’t always well-planned.

“The Web services approach and the services-orientated architecture are extremely valuable to companies because they provide ways to create a smooth face to your applications so that other applications can use it, even though you haven’t really thought about how the other applications are going to use it,” said Sue Aldrich, senior vice-president at the Patricia Seybold Group in Boston.

An added plus to Web services is that a company can expose its order processing systems as a service and have its customers have their programs talking to one another because the company has published how those applications can communicate, she explained.

And as for Corel’s recent re-positioning strategy, she said the company’s retail mentality could prove to be successful in dealing with corporations who are looking to be cost-minded when buying software and other services.

– With files from IDG News Service