Magic Adapts iBOLT for J.D. Edwards
January 9, 2007 Alex Woodie
Magic Software recently rolled out a version of its iBOLT integration software tailored for J.D. Edwards World and EnterpriseOne environments. The new i5/OS-based product, called JDE Connect, enables users to extend customized J.D. Edwards programs to applications running on other platforms, and, conversely, to bring data from other systems into the J.D. Edwards environment. Software licenses start at around $20,000, about half the typical iBOLT cost.
iBOLT grew out of the company’s flagship fourth-generation language (4GL) integrated development environment, called eDeveloper, in 2003. Many eDeveloper users were already using the IDE, which featured a proprietary messaging layer to integrate their business applications. Magic decided to make the integration process easier in iBOLT by building support for standard messaging technologies, such as WebSphere MQ, MSMQ, and JMS, and by making it a wizard-driven process.
In the summer of 2005, Magic unveiled a version of iBOLT designed to work in Windows-based SAP ERP environments. This product, called iBOLT Special Edition for SAP Business One, has achieved a degree of acceptance in the marketplace considering that Magic has about 40 partners using it in customer engagements, says Glenn Johnson, executive vice president of marketing for the Laguna Hills, California, company.
Now it’s 2007, and Magic is targeting one of the OS/400 industry’s most popular ERP brands, Oracle‘s J.D. Edwards. The company is targeting both the older RPG-based World, which Magic estimates is used by 3,000 OS/400 and i5/OS shops around the world, as well as the newer C-based EnterpriseOne product, which has less of a presence on the System i.
Amit Ben Zvi, vice president of products and marketing at Magic Software Enterprises, predicts good things for the special World version of iBOLT. “We were looking for a repeatable business niche where we could apply our technology in a manner that provides obvious and compelling business value,” he says. “I believe we have that kind of opportunity in the market intersection of Oracle J.D. Edwards and IBM System i.”
Johnson says JDE Connect serves the need for an easy-to-use tool for exposing highly customized World- and EnterpriseOne-based processes as part of a service-oriented business application. “We’re making it very straightforward for a business analyst to quickly access routines from pull-down menus,” he says.
The primary users of JDE Connect will be business analysts and system architects, who will sit down in front the product’s Windows-based workflow component to tell JDE Connect what to do. Once the new workflow has been designed, the native i5/OS server component executes it.
One of the common uses of JDE Connect will be smoothing the integration between public Web sites and back-end accounting systems, Johnson says. “Quite often companies are engaged in manual batch reconciliation processes. But when exceptions or errors occur, it becomes very time consuming and bogs down the department,” he says. “JDE Connect can automate the process by receiving the order, then automatically running the batch process that updates the ERP application.”
World users may also find JDE Connect a boon to their sales force automation (SFA) or CRM activities. Since there’s no real SFA or CRM capabilities within World, Johnson sees JDE Connect being used to ferry data back and forth between applications such as Salesforce.com (for entry-level SFA) and Siebel (for high-end CRM), all while ensuring the integrity of the DB2/400 data and compliance with JDE’s z/file format.
Another benefit of JDE Connect is that it executes in real time, ensuring that users have the most up-to-date information in their systems. The workflow capabilities of JDE Connect will also be a boon to any type of error-handing, Johnson says. “It will enable users to meet the requirement of their business rules: What needs to happen next, who needs to be notified, and what needs to be verified,” he says.
While JDE Connect works with any i5/OS- or OS/400-based J.D. Edwards systems, Magic sees more World users adopting it. That’s because Oracle already includes a version of the WebMethods integration software with every copy of EnterpriseOne, Johnson says. While WebMethods is a very capable messaging and integration infrastructure, it simply lacks hooks into i5/OS- and i5/OS-based applications, Johnson says. “It’s a very highly respected integration solution, but it has platform limitations,” he says. “It’s not going to help System i customers much.”
One of the early adopters of JDE Connect is Farm Mutual Reinsurance Plan of Cambridge, Ontario, which last month signed a software license and services contract with Magic Software worth $2.5 million. As part of the deal, FMRP will use JDE Connect to transform and normalize data from a Windows-based claims management system to J.D. Edwards’ general ledger format, using 5250 sessions to manage the exceptions. The deal also includes licenses for eDeveloper as part of an “overall business redesign,” Johnson says.
Jack Black, FMRP’s information systems manager, says going with Magic’s software and services will save a considerable amount of money compared to standard RPG development. “With iBOLT and eDeveloper, FMRP is able to fully leverage the business process enhancements possible on the IBM System i, which is widely regarded as the most scalable and reliable platform for secure business transactions,” he says.
The code behind JDE Connect is identical to iBOLT, Johnson says. The only differences between the products are licensing terms and price. Users will save roughly 50 percent off the $40,000 starting price. However, the product will only work when installed on a System i running J.D. Edwards software (although it won’t prevent the iBOLT functionality from being used with another i5/OS application, Johnson says).
Like it’s done with the SAP Business One version of iBOLT, Magic will be relying on service providers to install and customize the software. Currently, it has a handful of partners, but eventually it hopes to have 40 to 50 partners hawking the wares and assisting with implementations, Johnson says. The company is currently seeking partners.
Among the first partners to enter the JDE Connect program are DeNovo Consulting of Denver, Colorado, and M.A.G. Integration in Quebec, Canada. “With JDE Connect, we can deliver projects more affordably and reliably than an RPG-only solution, saving literally years of development effort,” says Michel Maurice, Business Development Manager for M.A.G.
JDE Connect is available now. Pricing ranges from $20,000 to $50,000. For more information, see www.magicsoftware.com.