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October 31, 1999

Active Software Rides B2B EAI Wave

By CBR Staff Writer

By William Fellows

Active Software Inc claims it is already riding a new wave of enterprise application integration which some its more outspoken competitors have barely touched. Today introduces version 4.0 of its ActiveWorks software that adds a slew of additional business- to-business functions to its integration programs. First generation EAI is all about enabling a company’s internal programs to exchange data, mainly linking back-office and front- office applications. The second wave moves integration on to IP and takes it beyond the firewall to connect the same programs to suppliers’ and customers’ applications through business-to- business extranets.

It’s really a question about which of a company’s private processes to make public, Active says. By adding more security and support for web and email functions to its integration software Active believes customers will be able to better leverage their investments in new CRM and supply chain applications that are designed to maximize the usefulness of data from partners and customers.

One of its key value propositions is that unlike competitors such as Extricity and Vitria Technology Active does not require its software sit at both ends of the pipe. Nor does it require an army of engineers; the software uses simple Java building blocks. Vitria still requires the user to have Corba developers write business objects. ActiveWorks supports XML and other non- proprietary formats where other products require customers use specific data entry and transport mechanisms. Software Technologies Corp, which last week began promoting a more distributed model for its own EAI software to support integration beyond the firewall is doing essentially the same thing as Active but describing it differently in an attempt to gain some customer traction. The reality of the situation is that STC is far behind ActiveWorks in supporting business-to-business integration, Active Software claims. We did the distributed work 18 months ago. STC is playing catch-up, it professes. It’s not exactly rocket science either Active Software notes, HTTP, web and email is easy compared to message broking which is the building of all EAI suites.

Active has rolled up all of its distributed network technologies into what it calls Project Broadband, and beyond ActiveWorks 4.0 plans to deliver modules that will support RosettaNet’s XML-based business-to-business, supply chain network customers from the end of November. It will also figure in RosettaNet’s 2/2/2000 initiative.

ActiveWorks 4.0 includes new InterActions components and processes that automate internal and external business processes; a graphical interface from which processes can be visually linked to create InterActions; a new version of its adapter technology that can offload application-specific processing from the integration engine, reducing network traffic; a doubling of performance; content-based filtering; and support for Digital Unix. It’s due in December from $75,000.

It has 50 adapters for pre-packaged applications. It claims 130 customers, 100 of them in production, and 75 ISV and VAR partners. Europe accounts for around 10% of revenue but the company is ramping its presence quickly and will soon cut a distribution deal for the Japanese market. It’s going to begin some limited advertising next year. It says 80% of the development licenses it sells are on NT and 80% of deployment licenses are on Unix.

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