IBM Takes On EDI Challenges with WebSphere DataStage TX
August 23, 2005 Alex Woodie
IBM last week announced WebSphere DataStage TX version 8.0, a new release of data integration middleware designed to support the complex EDI transformation services required by companies operating in regulated industries. This release benefits from progress made in the Serrano and Hawk data-integration projects currently underway at IBM and Ascential Software, which is operating as an IBM subsidiary, and makes it even easier to integrate complex data from virtually any source across OS/400, mainframe, and distributed platforms, according to Big Blue.
WebSphere DataStage TX–the new name that IBM has given to Ascential’s DataStage TX product–is an EDI-centric version of Ascential’s flagship DataStage product, which is an enterprise-strength data- and message-routing application most often used for building data warehouses (often referred to as extract, transformation, and load [ETL]) from dissimilar data sources and transaction systems. This March, IBM acquired the complete portfolio of Ascential data integration, cleansing, and reporting tools, which includes DataStage, DataStage TX, QualityStage, ProfileStage, AuditStage, MetaStage, and more than 300 pre-built adapters (see “IBM Buys Other Half of Informix with Ascential Acquisition”).
DataStage TX includes graphical design and run-time components designed to streamline the process of integrating data from different sources. The product’s Design Studio includes wizards that guide the developer through the process of designing, developing, testing, and deploying integration flows and connecting the user’s systems with those of his business partners, without any need for hand-coding. The separate EDI management module included with DataStage TX includes additional graphical tooling and an interface for managing inbound and outbound messaging in real time. The software supports the latest X12, EDIFACT, and TRADACOMS industry standard EDI formats, according to IBM.
With WebSphere DataStage TX version 8.0, IBM says it has applied the knowledge it has gained from its own Project Serrano and Ascential’s Project Hawk to boost the product’s capability to be deployed in an “open architectures,” which is more commonly described these days as a “service oriented architecture,” or an SOA.
In particular, version 8.0 boosts the product’s applicability in environments where both XML and non-XML data is intertwined, such as a HIPAA document that might have an XML claim attachment embedded inside a non-XML document, according to IBM. One DataStage TX customer, CommerceHub, is benefiting from this new capability.
“The release of DataStage TX 8.0 resolves many of the tricky issues involved in translation between external, EDI standards-based documents, and our internal, XML-based documents, files, and object expressions,” says Doug Smith, director of business process modeling and integration at CommerceHub. “The new approach to XML introduced in version 8.0 allows us to properly resolve character encoding between XML and EDI. The WebSphere DataStage TX Pack for EDI gives us out-of-the-box data structures for working with X12 EDI through version 5020.”
Other enhancements in DataStage TX 8.0 include new debuggers and optimization wizards that significantly enhance developer productivity, and better performance of XML schema processing. This release also brings several new pre-packaged adapters, or industry packs, supporting industry-centric standards, including packs for HIPAA EDI, standard EDI formats, SWIFT (Fin 4.1.1), and enterprise applications from SAP, Siebel, and Oracle (including PeopleSoft products).
While WebSphere DataStage TX does not run directly on OS/400 (few of IBM’s EAI products do), an IBM spokesperson says the software can be used in an iSeries environment. DataStage TX runs on Windows, Linux, Unix, and z/OS platforms. IBM was not able to provide pricing for this product. More information can be found at www.ascential.com/products/ds_tx.html.