Software aims to ease app integration

Application integration is a daunting task typically taken on by large companies with deep pockets and sophisticated software development resources. Tibco Software Inc. is looking to change that.

The company’s BusinessWorks software, announced last month, claims to make the integration process more accessible to mainstream customers who want to solve specific business problems, not tackle all their software integration challenges at once.

BusinessWorks is a compact version of the company’s more advanced ActiveEnterprise products. Tibco worked to package features in more digestible doses with configuration tools and process templates to guide users. The new bundling enables department-level integration projects, such as linking a customer service group’s salesforce automation software to a supply-chain management application so the company’s customers can view their order status.

The idea behind BusinessWorks is to let companies start small and grow to an enterprise-wide integration platform over time, Tibco says. This approach differentiates Tibco from other players in the application integration market, says Joanne Friedman, vice-president of e-business strategies at Meta Group Inc. Tibco’s competition includes IBM Corp., webMethods Inc., Sybase Inc. and Vitria Technology Inc.

“Tibco seems to be the only one that’s saying what’s good for the big guys should be good for the middle-tier and small guys as well,” Friedman says.

BusinessWorks includes support for Web services standards, including Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), an XML-based messaging protocol that lets Web applications communicate; Web Services Description Language, which standardizes how a service and its provider are described; Universal Description, Discovery and Integration, which is a registry of Web services resources; and XML Stylesheet Language Transformations, a language used to convert an XML document into other formats.

With Web services support, customers can build connections to their trading partners’ and customers’ applications more easily than they could with previous Tibco products that relied on electronic data interchange and RosettaNet standards.

Terry Tutt, senior software architect for TNT Logistics, has previewed BusinessWorks and says it has more graphically oriented design and deployment features and requires less expertise to use than the more advanced Tibco tools his company currently uses.

TNT Logistics is a supply-chain management outsourcer, so integration between its systems and those of its customers is key. “BusinessWorks will shorten the development cycle and perhaps allow us to use less senior developers to put together solutions for our more routine integration projects,” Tutt says. One example of a common integration task is taking an e-mail purchase order and translating in into an electronic document that goes into an order management system, Tutt says.

BusinessWorks will be available this month. Pricing varies by installation; typical deployments will cost between US$250,000 and US$750,000, according to Shankar Iyer, a Tibco vice-president.

For more information, visit the company on the Web at