IBM Previews WebSphere Business Connections

Big Blue takes the wraps off its b-to-b integration server.

IBM Corp. said it expects most Web services projects to target internal integration efforts in the near term. However, the company said it would release a product in September for Web services that connects outside the firewall.

Big Blue took the wraps off WebSphere Business Connection, a b-to-b integration server. The product, based on IBM’s WebSphere Application Server, offers connectors to a variety of b-to-b standards, including EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol).

WebSphere Business Connection is specifically designed to connect applications between different businesses, allowing them to share data between critical business applications. The product offers a blend of cutting-edge technologies such as Web services, as well as tried-and-true standards such as EDI, RosettaNet and FTP.

Scott Cosby, manager of WebSphere business process integration for IBM, says the company believes the best tack for b-to-b integration is to use the same tools enterprises would use for integration projects in-house. “[Customers] don’t want to think of b-to-b separate from EAI,” he says. Offering a WebSphere product for projects outside the firewall allows enterprises to use similar tools.

IBM is offering three editions of the product: WebSphere Business Connection Express will offer basic cross- firewall integration using SOAP, HTTP and HTTPS, at a base price of $5,000. The WebSphere Business Connection Standard product ($28,000) adds traditional standards such as EDI, FTP and RosettaNET. WebSphere Business Connection Enterprise ($87,000) includes EDI transformation abilities.

Cosby says that a few niche players offer similar functionality, but to his knowledge none of the major application server vendors (such as BEA and Oracle) has competing products on the market.