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Sun to ship new e-commerce integration software

Sun Microsystems is giving its software integration technology a new look, allowing businesses to connect systems and exchange information over the Web.

Sun Microsystems is giving its software integration technology a new look.

Sun will soon ship updated e-commerce software that allows businesses to connect their different computing systems, so they can exchange information and conduct business over the Web.

The revised product, called Forte Fusion, is Sun's first foray into the hot software integration market, which is expected to jump from $400 million in 1999 to $1.8 billion in 2002, according to research firm Gartner Group. Sun acquired the software last August when it purchased Forte Software for $540 million.

Software integration technology allows companies to build Web sites that link them with customers, suppliers and partners. It also helps companies tie together business software that was never meant to be integrated, such as financial and human resources applications.

Sun and software giants IBM, Oracle and Microsoft are just entering a market pioneered by the likes of Neon Software and Mercator.

Sun plans to release its updated software in April or May. It will feature increased support for Extensible Markup Language (XML), a Web standard for exchanging information. With the XML support, the product allows a single company to integrate its own applications and conduct and manage transactions with their partners on the Internet, a Sun executive said.

The new version of Forte Fusion will run about 40 percent faster and support a new standard called Extensible Stylesheet Language (XSL) Transformation, which will let developers easily use XML to tie their software together, the Sun executive said.

XSL technology lets Taking sides on XMLusers define how a document is presented, specifying color and font, for example. XSL Transformation lets programmers easily map different documents together without having to write a lot of additional software code.

Forte Fusion includes messaging software designed to ensure information sent from a business application is delivered to its intended target. For example, an e-commerce Web site can build a system that automatically routes purchasing orders directly to the warehouse.

Sun said the new product will include new adapters that link specific business applications to each other. The adapters will support software from Oracle, Siebel, Nortel Networks' Clarify and others. Forte Fusion previously supported software from 10 other software makers, including SAP and Baan. The product, which previously supported Unix and Windows operating systems, will also support the operating system for IBM's S/390 mainframe computers.