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SeeBeyond looks for an edge

The integration software specialist expands its product line to fend off rivals in a competitive market.

SeeBeyond, hoping to find an edge in the competitive integration software market, has retooled its products with Web services in mind.

The Monrovia, Calif.-based company on Tuesday detailed the first major upgrade to its product line in three years, which will begin shipping to customers at the end of March.

Called Integrated Composite Applications Networks (ICAN) version 5.0, the integration software suite aims to set SeeBeyond apart from competitors with a new set of features. The company is adding support for Web services-based standards for automating business processes and better compatibility with other middleware products.

SeeBeyond is one of a handful of established companies that sell enterprise application integration (EAI) software, which allows dissimilar business software applications, such as a homegrown inventory system and a packaged sales application from Siebel Systems, to communicate.

While SeeBeyond and other companies did find early success in the integration software market, competition has intensified. Technology buyers have indicated that integration software is on their shortlist of products to acquire this year. That's attracted a crowd of companies hoping to find new revenue in a tight market.

Established EAI companies--which include SeeBeyond, Tibco, WebMethods and Vitria--are clashing with Java application server software makers, such as IBM, BEA Systems, Oracle, Sun Microsystems and Microsoft.

"Beyond the traditional suspects (WebMethods and Tibco) that are making headway in the market, SeeBeyond is also facing IBM and BEA Systems, as well as increased market distractions from the ERP (enterprise resource planning) players...(Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP)," a recent Lazard U.S. Equity Research note said. "We believe (SeeBeyond's) competitive horizon is getting darker."

SeeBeyond's strategy is to adopt both Java and Web services standards, and to emphasize that the company's updated product line can save customers money, according to company executives.

The new products are designed to allow developers or business analysts to pull data from multiple sources to build an application. This "composite application" idea will ultimately allow them to more easily assemble applications with visual design tools, company executives said.

ICAN suite 5.0 introduces eInsight Business Process Manager 5.0, a graphical development tool for modeling business processes and pulling data from disparate sources. The tool allows developers to manipulate connections to existing applications as discrete components, or modular pieces of code, that adhere to Web services standards for business processes.

SeeBeyond has upgraded its core application integration server, called eGate, with the ability to write and run Java code on both eGate and other Java application servers that comply with the Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) specification. The expanded Java compatibility will make SeeBeyond's development and administration tools useful for non-SeeBeyond software, according to company executives.

The upgraded suite also introduces a tool called eVision to build a Web browser interface for SeeBeyond applications. A developer, for example, would use eVision to build a screen that a procurement manager would see to sign off on a purchase order. With it, programmers can extend applications to mobile devices, including Research In Motion's BlackBerry pagers.