Commerce One Updates Conductor

Aims to simplify composite process creation and management, improve scalability, expanded interoperability

Aims to simplify composite process creation and management, improve scalability, expanded interoperability

Pleasanton, CA — October 14, 2003 — Commerce One this week rolled out the latest version of its composite process management (CPM) platform, adding new features and capabilities intended to increase both the design and development capabilities of the technology as well as its performance and scalability

The solution provider defines composite processes as a breed of cross-functional or multi-organization business processes that can combine and connect features, functionality, data and/or business context from existing applications to create new business functionality. CPM is the act of not just developing and deploying composite processes, but managing change throughout their lifecycle.

Commerce One launched its CPM platform, dubbed Conductor, in March (see related article) and has since won over some 15 customers to the solution, including Eastman Chemical, EDS and Schlumberger. About half of the Conductor customers have been new to Commerce One, which has been working hard to overcome its legacy as a provider of e-marketplace solutions.

With version 6.5 of Conductor, Commerce One said it has simplified composite process creation and management. An Integrated Design Center is intended to bring together diverse design activities in implementing a composite process. The Design Center integrates user interface design, process definition and business logic development using a visual drag-and-drop mechanism.

Commerce One also said that it has added new features to Conductor to improve the solution's scalability, assure availability and take advantage of clustering to support highly demanding enterprise environments. The solution provider said that these additions will help customers operate at a larger scale and more efficiently manage resources.

Elsewhere, Commerce One is promising wider interoperability with existing systems in version 6.5. "We've tried to be pretty painstaking about the fact that if Conductor were going to be used in conjunction with other supply chain software, it would not require customers to rip-and-replace anything," Narry Singh, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of professional services at Commerce One.

To that end, the solution provider has formed new partnerships so that the Conductor platform can offer interoperability with more than 200 enterprise applications and existing enterprise application integration (EAI) infrastructures. Operating system and application server compatibility has been expanded with Solaris and WebSphere support. According to Commerce One, these capabilities will further extend interoperability across vendors, systems and protocols without requiring extended training time or new technology investments.

The solution provider also has included in version 6.5 some 70 pre-loaded business documents, such as purchase orders and invoices, available out of the box so that customers need not devote time to assembling XML versions of these sorts of files.

Overall, Commerce One is positioning Conductor as a relatively inexpensive, fast and pain-free method of addressing specific process pain-points within an enterprise without compromising a company's existing information technology investments. Eastman Chemical, for example, invested 10 person-days to deploy a composite application that the company now is using the solution to better monitor procurement with financial and other processes for cost control and optimization.

"Commerce One Conductor has allowed us to reduce application development time and total cost of ownership as a result of utilizing our existing IT infrastructure," said Eddie Page, purchasing manager at Eastman. "We chose Conductor because it contains an integrated set of components necessary to create, manage and execute composite processes. Other technology vendors, such as those proposing an enterprise application integration (EAI) solution, only supplied one or two of the key components and they were not integrated."

In addition, technology research firm IDC recently performed its own total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis on various approaches to deploying composite processes and concluded that Commerce One's approach has some advantages. "Our pro forma analysis indicates that using a unified, registry-based platform, compared to using a combination of discrete tools, such as stand-alone integration brokers, portals and development tools, can help gain efficiencies across the entire composite application lifecycle," said Sandra Rogers, director of Web services and integration software at IDC.

For its part, Commerce One said it has demonstrated a six-month payback on the Conductor solution, along with a 40 to 50 percent reduction in the cost and time of initial process development and integration efforts, as well as up to 60 percent cost savings in ongoing maintenance and support thanks to the solution's registry-based approach to centrally managing all process changes.

As a company, Commerce One has been working hard to ensure its post-e-marketplace survival despite losses for its most recent fiscal quarter of $6.1 million on sales of $8.3 million. Besides promoting the Conductor platform, in the past 6 months, the company has raised $10 million in additional funding, renegotiated major real-estate obligations projected to save some $42 million over eight years, secured partnerships with two global system integrators and started to offshore more than 40 percent of the company's development.