WebSphere takes a tailored turn to verticals

It appears that IBM Corp. has spent some long nights at the drawing board and has decided that one size does not fit all when it comes to its business customers.

Last month Big Blue announced the latest of its WebSphere Business Integration (WBI) offerings, each tailored to meet the needs of specific verticals, including the retail, insurance and telecommunications markets. IBM’s WBI suites feature software for connecting third-party software and pre-built process collaborations that detail how to conduct common business processes crossing multiple applications and systems.

In its latest release, WBI for Financial Networks and Financial Markets allows companies to automate trade processing over internal and external financial networks, specifically Belgium-based SWIFT, according to IBM. SWIFT is a global cooperative that connects over 7,000 financial institutions.

Within WBI for Financial Networks, IBM provides an integration hub – rather than a point-to-point system – that delivers connectivity to multiple external financial networks including the new SWIFT IP network, SWIFTNet. According to Janice Coker, program director for WebSphere Business Integration marketing for financial services, WBI for Financial Networks provides existing customers of IBM Merva – an offering that enables message processing and funds transfer functions – with a migration path to SWIFTNet.

“What we are providing is a network hub that allows you to concentrate your connections into SWIFT services…instead of having point-to-point connections to multiple services,” Coker explained. “It is a cost benefit, but also an administrative and management benefit. There is one offering in your infrastructure to manage all your connection points as opposed to having a variety of offerings and components…that you have to manage and administer.”

Within the WBI financial offering, IBM also announced WBI for Financial Markets, which helps automate post-trade, pre-settlement process for international trading. The offering will help accelerate implementation of the automation of business processes for stock trades, securities and payments messaging, the company said.

“The objective was to provide some process collaboration to help with the efficiency and some of the automation, and improve the timeliness of closing on a trade,” Coker explained.

According to Tim Sloane, director of research, Internet and infrastructure with Boston-based Aberdeen Group, solutions like IBM’s WebSphere Business Integration offering make sense in a time where technology for technology’s sake just doesn’t cut it.

“The enterprise wants solutions that can bring a return on investment very quickly, and that means making it useful within their business context as quickly as possible,” Sloane said. “So, IBM…and others are all looking to take their integration business processes that will help companies in a specific industry.”

Sloane said software such as WBI will help companies deal with multiple standards that can cause deployments to get troublesome. When a financial institution, for instance, purchases WBI for Financial Networks or Financial Markets, that institution would then have access to SWIFT.

“It is a single window into SWIFT services, but we also know that these banking institutions access a variety of financial networks beyond just SWIFT, and they can use the same technology to access those services as well,” IBM’s Coker added.

For now, IBM has so far only announced a partnership with SWIFT, but Coker assured that deals with other financial service providers are in the works. WebSphere Business Integration for Financial Networks and Financial Markets are available now. For details visit Big Blue at www.ibm.com.

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