EAI vendors move beyond integration

EAI vendors move beyond integration

Application integration vendors including Tibco Software and SeeBeyond Technology are building out their suites with analytic tools aimed at helping managers make faster and smarter business decisions.

As companies look to get more out of their IT systems, enterprise application integration (EAI) vendors are working to do more than simply plug together disparate applications. These days, business activity monitoring (BAM) is high on EAI vendors' lists of business-oriented add-ons.

Companies generate volumes of data that transactional systems process and databases store. BAM integrates and brings meaning to this information in real time so companies can reduce their operating costs and improve process performance. With BAM software, companies can use wizard-based tools to configure, track and analyse their performance metrics and quickly spot business problems, opportunities and trends.

For example, a company might use BAM to trace a waylaid cargo shipment or to monitor delayed flights. BAM differs from traditional business intelligence and data warehouse setups, which target business analyst users and tend to take on aggregate tasks such as sales forecasting or financial consolidation. BAM targets line-of-business managers and watches for operational events as they unfold.

A key part of BAM is capturing data. Thanks to their expertise with linking applications, EAI vendors already deal with reams of data flowing through their integration servers and messaging platforms. A company might use message-oriented middleware to transfer purchasing information from an order-entry system to a CRM system, for example.

Adding BAM tools to put that captured information in context was the next step, according to EAI vendors.

For its foray into BAM, Tibco acquired privately held, pure-play BAM vendor Praja in September. Last week, Tibco announced the first fruits of the purchase, unveiling Tibco BusinessFactor for business-performance monitoring and management.

"If you look at all the sources of information about a business - whether it's a series of business processes that have been created, or a set of reports that comes out of a business intelligence engine, or the kinds of things that people discuss in staff meetings - there's all kinds of information that needs to influence business decisions," director of marketing strategies at Tibco, Larry Neumann, said.

"Business optimidation is something that all our customers end up doing on top of our software already, in some form or another. We just want to bring them the tools that will make it better, easier and faster."

BusinessFactor consists of two components: a Tibco technology-based information assimilation server that aggregates real-time and historical operational data and maps it to performance indicators; a Praja technology-based interface that presents contextual data to business decision makers.

Integrating the vendors' technologies filled a gap in Praja's original offering, a senior product marketing manager at Tibco and former Praja employee, Scott Fingerhut, said.

"At Praja our major weakness was that we couldn't tell people how to integrate information - that was left to other tools," he said. Tibco BusinessFactor costed between $US350,000 and $US650,000, Neumann said.

EAI software maker SeeBeyond chose to build rather than buy its BAM functionality. The vendor added a BAM module to its Integrated Composite Application Networks Suite 5.0, which was unveiled earlier this month. The new module, called eBAM Studio, lets users build composite BAM applications without any programming, the company says.

SeeBeyond said eBAM Studio would be available by mid-year and declined to disclose pricing.

Tibco and SeeBeyond weren't the only integration software vendors tackling BAM.

Vitria offers its home-built Business Cockpit monitoring and analysis tool, webMethods has partnered with analytic software maker Informatica, and IBM acquired business-process integration and real-time monitoring specialist Holosofx in September.

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