XML consolidation begins in earnest

XML consolidation begins in earnest


Industry consolidation among software vendors pioneering the use of XML is continuing apace in the US, with WebMethods flagging its intention to buy Active Software and Vignette announcing it would acquire OnDisplay.

WebMethods intends to buy Active Software for $US1.3 billion in an all-stock deal, while Vignette signed an agreement to acquire OnDisplay for about $1.8 billion in a stock swap.

WebMethods, which lost about $18 million last year on revenue of $23 million, makes a business-to-business server that enables XML-based storage and the exchange of business documents, such as orders and shipment information, between trading partners.

XML is the format-neutral document tagging structure developed by the World Wide Web Consortium. It is the primary technology for translating and storing documents that may have originated in different formats, such as the proprietary SAP AG and Baan NV formats, or the older e-commerce standard called Electronic Data Interchange.

WebMethods CEO Phillip Merrick says that acquiring Active Software, which markets the ActiveWorks Integration System for automating end-to-end business processes, strengthens WebMethods' ability to help corporations integrate their back-end systems for e-commerce purposes. The two firms already have some customers such as Federal Express in common.

"We're now the clear market leader in this business-integration space," he claims. However, Wall Street, in volatile trading, sent WebMethods' stock down 17 per cent to $US72 a fortnight ago. Active's stock dropped 3 per cent to about $32 at the close of trading at the same time.

Once the WebMethods acquisition of Active Software is completed, In yet another XML blockbuster deal announced the same day, Vignette, which markets the V/5 platform for XML-based document management and publishing, said it would buy OnDisplay, which sells the XML-based repository, CenterStage.

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