WebSphere users get apps integration help

IBM Corp. this week is announcing an integration product aimed at a particular class of users – midsize companies using the WebSphere Commerce suite that haven’t integrated their e-commerce software with their back-end systems.

The purpose of the new product, called IBM CrossWorlds Extender for WebSphere Commerce, is to make integration easier and more affordable for Commerce customers that don’t need a full-blown IBM CrossWorlds enterprise integration platform.

CrossWorlds is the company IBM acquired last fall that specialized in business-process automation. IBM retained the CrossWorlds branding for its business-process-oriented middleware, which features predefined integration templates organized around common business tasks, such as tracking an order.CrossWorlds Extender includes the same core technology as the enterprise version, but its deployment options are limited. It will tie WebSphere Commerce to a back-end source, such as a CRM or enterprise resource planning application – but only one source. Conversely, the enterprise version of CrossWorlds allows for multisystem integration.

Like its ascendant, CrossWorlds Extender makes use of prepackaged business-process templates that are aimed at reducing the burden of defining and coding integration points. More heavy-duty integration platforms – IBM’s and those from competitors such as webMethods and Tibco Software – typically require users to engage consultants for the implementation process, says Steve Gatto, WebSphere Commerce integration manager. That’s something IBM says it hopes to avoid requiring with the lighter-weight CrossWorlds Extender product.

Gatto estimates the new bundle will reduce initial implementation costs by 30 percent to 70 percent vs. a typical application integration project.

The software comes preconfigured to work with WebSphere Commerce. It’s built on IBM’s WebSphere Application Server and DB2 Universal Database. Because it shares the same core technology as the enterprise version of IBM CrossWorlds, customers can upgrade easily as their integration needs grow, Gatto says.

Application integration continually shows up on companies’ to-do lists. According to an April release of Morgan Stanley’s ongoing CIO Survey Series, application integration is the No. 3 priority for 2002, after security software and connecting to customers over the Internet. Yet according to Hurwitz Group, fewer than 35 percent of companies have fully installed integration products.

CrossWorlds Extender for WebSphere Commerce will be available in the third quarter. Pricing starts at US$150,000.

IBM: www.ibm.com/software/commerce.