Start-up Cape Clear Software Inc. on Thursday released data integration software based on XML and Web services that is designed to help companies integrate disparate data and applications.

The Cape Clear Data Interchange is a lightweight alternative to EDI and Extraction, Transformation and Loading (ETL) and allows such documents as spreadsheets, order forms and expense reports to be exchanged between applications regardless of format.

The Data Interchange builds an XML schema from text files allowing applications that have no concept of XML to feed data into a Web services infrastructure. A company would use the Data Interchange software as a sort of gateway, intercepting documents and tagging them with XML formatting before routing them to back-end systems.

“This is a clear cut case of low-end data integration,” says Tom Rhinelander, an analyst with the New Rowley Group. “There are tons of business processes out there that breakdown when the two sides have to exchange data. This says ‘if you can get me something in electronic form, I can get it into my system.’ “

The Data Interchange will be added to Cape Clear Business Integration Suite, which now features three modules focused on applications integration: Studio for development, Server for deployment, and Manager for management and configuration.

Cape Clear hopes Data Interchange will allow companies to support XML data integration long before vendors support XML data formats in their off-the-shelf applications. In addition, the software can help modernize older applications that don’t produce XML formatted data.

“The front end of the pipe is where things are not available in XML,” says David Clarke, senior vice-president of strategy and business development at Cape Clear. “Documents can still be sent as always. Data Interchange is a non-intrusive way for companies to convert those documents to XML.”

Cape Clear Studio is the foundation of the graphical interface in Data Interchange that is used to map formats into an XML schema, a definition of the data contained in the document. Those schemas are then used to tag documents as they pass through the Data Interchange engine, which runs on the Cape Clear Server.

Data Interchange ships with support for a variety of familiar data formats including CICS, Cisco IOS, Excel, and EDI, as well as vertical industry formats such as ACORD for the insurance sector and SWIFT for the finance sector.

The software is available now and runs on IBM Corp. AIX, Linux, Windows, and Sun Microsystems Inc. Solaris. Pricing starts at US$75,000.

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