Business integration software combines various functions -- such as customer relationship management (CRM) and order processing -- to simulate how business processes will flow across a value chain, and to analyze and monitor the integration of those processes.
Such integration helps companies respond faster to customer needs and make changes in real-time based on supply and demand requirements. In fast-paced commerce environments, software that can link different parts of the business process is becomingly more vital to keep up with customer demand.
Stuart McIrvine, program director of Websphere Integration Software at IBM, said the capabilities -- model, integrate, connect, monitor and manage -- are necessary to help customers get the results they desire in fusing and managing business processes, such as pushing purchase orders through in an orderly fashion.
The model aspect is geared to help line of business professionals participate in process design without knowing Java coding, and to help model current and plan future processes. The integration feature helps put people, processes and applications on the same page so that business information can be accessed in real-time. Those disparate systems are pulled together to connect customers and business partners, so they can react to market changes.
New features of WebSphere Business Integration also include the monitor capability from Holosofx, which lets customers observe and track the state of business events and take corrective action to improve performance without. Lastly, the new software analyzes and bolsters business operations.
"It's not good enough to start it, walk away and leave it," McIrvine told internetnews.com. "You need to watch out for bottlenecks, especially in e-commerce sites where there is heavy volume."
Forrester analyst Sharyn Leaver said IBM's play displays the progress the company has made since picking up Holosofx last year.
"The biggest thing you can take away from this is that IBM is showing progress in integrating the assets of Holosofx," Leaver told internetnews.com. "They have made it a priority to pull all of these pieces together in one complete solution... But this is not the endgame. What they've done is put a stake in the ground. Those pieces of technology [monitoring and modeling] are part of the common business process modeling for their complete WebSphere Business Integration portfolio. But they still have a ways to go.. they need to be able to make it run in multiple, disparate runtime environments."
As for the competition, Leaver said the news puts pressure on rival integration software makers such as BEA and Oracle.
"Obviously this is an improvement from that standpoint," Leaver said. "This gives them a strong leg up. When you consider [IBM's] MQSeries as the de facto standard for business integration, neither BEA nor Oracle can make the same claims of credibility. Where [IBM] needs to be going next, is to pull in other components, such as business performance analysis business process information and data, and a portal component."
As is custom within IBM's business integration strategy, and evidenced in the WebSphere Business Integration Server 4.1 from last June, the various "collaborations," or pre-built process templates, are tailored for specific industries, such as retail, finance and telecommunications. But McIrvine said the new iteration also blankets telecommunications, healthcare and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) fields.
Customers can use IBM WebSphere Business Integration Server 4.2 to integrate applications on diverse platforms. McIrvine said the fortified product features improved tooling to reduce development time by generating run time code without the need for Java programming; added openness via the adoption of Eclipse Framework; more functionality to give users the ability to consume or publish processes as Web services; improved workflow; and improved process viewing, where monitors can be customized to focus on specific business requirements.
The new products will be available later this month.