IBM goes vertical on WebSphere integration

And why not

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

IBM Corp will today announce the launch of five new packaged integration products aimed at specific vertical sectors - further proof of the company's increased focus on this rapidly growing market sector,

Susie Harwood writes

. Today's announcement comes just weeks after IBM announced the latest release of the WebSphere Business Integration platform, which includes technology from its CrossWorlds acquisition last October.

The new vertical products are built on top of WebSphere Business Integration v4.1, which combines WebSphere MQ integration Broker and MQ Workflow, with CrossWorld's tools and InterChange Server platform, and is scheduled to ship in July. The products include pre-built industry specific process templates, called collaborations, as well as industry-specific adapters that integrate business processes across popular application software packages from companies including BroadVision, i2, Oracle, PeopleSoft, SAP and Siebel.

Pre-built templates are designed to reduce the amount of custom coding and configuration necessary for implementation, improving out-of-the-box functionality and speeding implementation. Don O'Toole, director of business integration marketing for IBM's Software Group, said the collaborations should enable customers to improve implementation efficiency between 20% and 30%.

IBM follows a number of its competitors in the integration space, including webMethods, Tibco and Vitria, which have announced similar vertical initiatives this year. Even though what IBM is announcing is not a new concept, the company has differentiated itself from competitors through its choice of verticals. The five verticals that IBM is initially targeting are: automotive, electronics, insurance, retail/distribution, and telecommunications. There has been a tendency among key vendors to focus heavily on the financial services, healthcare, and government markets this year.

The products also support industry standards and initiatives, such as UCCnet in the retail industry, a non-profit independent organization that provides item registry and data synchronization for retail distribution based on industry standards. Customers can use IBM's pre-built item management business process template to send and receive item data with their trading partners, and to validate, synchronize, and publish item data automatically throughout their enterprise.

O'Toole said the first vertical offering will be for the automotive industry and is scheduled for release in July, with the others to follow later in the year. The company also plans to continue to add collaborations to the products as they are developed.

In addition to the five vertical products, IBM plans to introduce IBM WebSphere Business Integration for Financial Markets, designed to meet the specific integration challenges associated with Straight-Through-Processing (STP), and WebSphere Business Connection, a horizontal B2B offering to help enterprises to integrate their IT systems with those of their business partners.

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