EAI accepts vertical challenge

Continuing their march up the application stack, EAI (enterprise application integration) vendors are rolling out suites designed for business processes common to vertical industries such as health care and financial services.

In addition, companies such as Tibco Software Inc. and Vitria Technology Inc. are taking a business process-centric approach to tackling the deployment woes often associated with complex integration tools.

Tibco announced this week a vertical solutions program targeted at the financial services, oil and gas, manufacturing, and utilities industries and designed to tackle integration issues by using a combination of Tibco products and industry-specific business processes and data management solutions.

For its part, Vitria last month rolled out a suite of applications designed to tackle the most common recurring integration problems for vertical industries by managing collaborative processes within and across enterprises.

The moves are designed to assuage customer frustration from buying infrastructure and spending years integrating it, said Mike Gilpin, a research fellow at Giga Information Group Inc. in Cambridge, Mass.

“[EAI vendors] need to move up the stack to a more application level rather than an infrastructure level so they can be seen delivering a solution rather than just tools,” Gilpin said.

Malcolm Lewis, Vitria vice-president of industry communication, said offering a “buy vs. build” approach to integration will resonate with enterprises.

“It’s going to be a much less risky proposition because customers are buying a proven solution that has already been deployed,” Lewis said.

The new collaborative applications are built on and leverage Vitria’s integration platform and focus on key integration problems such as claims processing and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance for health care companies and order fulfillment for manufacturers.

One of Tibco’s new solutions is an integration platform for the financial services industry designed to provide business process management for processing crossborder trades, connecting to back-end systems, and delivering management capabilities that track both the number of trades outstanding and service quality. It will also reduce the 20 per cent industry average of failed trades, officials said.

“We’re managing the business processes associated with the trades,” said Peter Tebbenhoff, director of industry solutions at Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tibco. “If there is a failed trade detected, we’ll route that trade to a repair station so an operator can view the failed trade, make an adjustment to it, and reintroduce it into the settlement process.”

These vertical solutions help enterprises by offering prebuilt data models and prebuilt process models, said Jon Derome, an analyst at The Yankee Group in Boston. For example, they could aid enterprises that need help to integrate an application that closes financial trades in 10 required steps.

“If you map out these 10 steps … then you just tie the application into the process model and that should save time,” Derome said.

Derome noted, however, that it would be wrong for enterprises to assume that these templates are complete solutions.

“It’s not a plug-and-play kind of scenario,” Derome said.