Computer Associates’ (CA) Interbiz Solutions unit has unveiled the beta version of its Bizworks application framework, which it claims bridges the gap between existing business applications and the Internet.
The framework is an attempt to tie together CA’s disparate applications portfolio, which came into its possession via a raft of acquisitions, and to update it for use in the socalled extended enterprise by employing technology already found in the software giant’s Unicenter TNG systems management software.
Reuven Battat, Interbiz’s president, said: “Enterprise resource planning (ERP) companies that don’t adjust to the new world will go the way of the dinosaurs, but we see Bizworks as moving beyond ERP and monolithic applications. It’s about how to integrate the different businesses cooperating in the supply chain and not just the back office.”
He continued: “Bizworks provides full command and control for administrators and the ability to integrate applications and information into the enterprise. What Unicenter is for the CIO, Interbiz is for the CEO to help him manage his organisation by leveraging a single unified infrastructure. The CEO is generally the last to know what’s going on, but this can make the CEO the first to know so he can move the business forward.”
CA claims that the Bizworks framework, which is due to ship by the end of the year at a “relatively modest” price, will enable organisations to collaborate with each other securely over the Internet, and analyse and visualise data from the extended enterprise in realtime via the bizvision visualisation engine, which is currently found in Unicenter.
It will also enable them to predict future business events using nugents, CA’s version of neural network technology, which is also included in Unicenter.
Lisa Williams, senior analyst for enterprise applications at the Yankee Group, said: “This is a repackaging of CA’s core technology with the addition of nugents and the like. It’s trying to take its systems management stuff and turn it into ebusiness management.”
She added: “I think there’s a need for that and ecommerce customers are always asking for it, but the next three to six months will tell us a lot. It’s important to have a framework and emphasise it, but it’s also important what goes on it. CA’s shown us the beginning, but it has to move it forward now.”
The Bizworks framework is written in C and uses XML as its data transfer mechanism, but also includes support for alerts, security, online analytical processing (Olap), business intelligence and workflow.
As time goes on, Interbiz will come out with specially written Bizworks components such as Bizsecurity and BizIntelligence that can take advantage of such functionality, but the unit expects the first one to ship at the end of December. Bizflow will connect Bizwork’s workflow engine with third party enterprise ones.
Users will also be able to plug existing Interbiz applications into the framework, including data warehousing, business intelligence and knowledge management offerings from CA’s Platinum Technology acquisition, and integration with third party packages will be provided via connectors.
Interbiz is also currently in discussions with a raft of content providers, including Dun & Bradstreet, to add their support to the initiative.
But this will not be a shrinkwrapped solution and customers will need to pay Interbiz’s professional services unit to produce a customised offering to fit their needs.
Battat said, however, that the firm would continue to support its applications in their current form and users would not need to adopt the Bizworks functionality if they did not wish to do so.
“We definately have a commitment to support the existing ERP products and we’ll provide specific deliverables on the product line. But in future, it will be a much smaller part of the business due to the potential to increase the other business, so its total contribution to the whole will drop,” he explained.
The firm’s Interbiz unit was set up in April and currently employs 2,000 staff, including professional services. It includes the supply chain group, which comprises Acacia Technologies and MK Group, the financial group, which is based on technology from Prestige Software International, and the banking group, which includes the CA-Infopoint family.
Accpac International’s accounting and business management applications, which are sold to small and medium businesses (SMBs) exclusively via the channel, will not be integrated into Bizworks for the time being, however.
Battat explained: “This has the biggest growth potential because the SMB market has huge potential over the next six to 12 months. Accpacc will be included in Bizworks in future, but the focus now is just to sell more products. This makes more sense because Bizworks is aimed at the enterprise.”
But he refused to be drawn on when CA might round out its offerings by moving into the booming front office customer relationship management (CRM) space.
“CRM is definately a very important area of growth and we could do more. We have some offerings there now, but they are not major components of what we do. Some partnerships in the near future might enable us to focus there more. As for rumours of us taking over Peoplesoft, we have no announcements to make at this time. It’s up to you how you interprete that,” he said.
He added that Interbiz currently generated 80 per cent of its sales directly compared with CA’s 30 per cent, but his aim was to double the unit’s revenues this year, although he refused to divulge current sales figures.
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