EXTOL Updates B2B Integration Software, Partners with S4i for Doc Management
November 9, 2010 Alex Woodie
EXTOL recently introduced a new release of its Java-based suite of business integration middleware, EXTOL Business Integrator (EBI). Version 2.5 introduces features designed to eliminate much of the manual steps required for setup. EBI customers can also benefit from a new product integration with EXTOL partner S4i Systems that enables S4i’s document management software to automatically distribute, archive, and retrieve documents arising from EDI and related transactions.
EBI is the foundation of EXTOL’s expansive suite of business-to-business (B2B) integration functionality. Through EBI and a collection of optional add-ons, EXTOL helps customers define integration points; map the transactions; execute the exchanges; and log the results. Flexibility without programming could be the company mantra.
EXOTL outs EBI’s capability to “bridge the gaps” in B2B process, by which it means that it doesn’t matter whether the transaction involves traditional EDI, secure AS2, messy XLS, old-school flat files, exotic XML, newfangled SOA, straight SMTP, or synchronized GDSM. EXTOL has its roots in the AS/400 market and still supports adapters for IBM i-specific ERP packages like JDE World, MAPICS, and VAI (as well as a “native” version called EDI Integrator for i). But its focus today is much broader, with a strong emphasis on supporting ERP big-wigs SAP and Oracle, the capability to run on virtually any platform, and delivering software as a service (SaaS) and cloud integration.
With EBI 2.5, EXTOL continues the twin themes of automation and simplification with a collection of new features aimed at addressing the common business process bugaboos. Much of the focus of EBI 2.5 is on streamlining the mapping process, which is the most time-consuming item in B2B processes, and can account for two-thirds of the time in a medium-to-large project, according to a recent blog posting by EXTOL vice president Jim O’Leary.
The new Smart Mapping component and Rule Set Migration Assistant are two of the new features in EBI 2.5 designed to speed the mapping process. Smart Mapping accomplishes this by generating the transformation rules (or complete rule sets) by basing them on user-configured matching methods, EXTOL says. Smart Mapping cuts 70 percent off the time needed to accomplish this manually. Meanwhile, the Rule Set Migration Assistant helps customers by automating the maintenance of transformation maps when changes occur in the source or target documents, the company says.
EBI 2.5 further simplifies the setup process with the new EDI Provisioning Assistant, which EXTOL says saves EDI setup time by generating partner endpoints in bulk from sample files. EXTOL says automating the creation of partner endpoints saves 90 percent of the time required to accomplish this task by hand.
Also introduced are EDI Exit Points, which are useful for creating custom handling routines for EDI documents. Last but not least are new Database Monitors that EXTOL says will automate the process of implementing database triggers and change data capture (CDC) routines.
EBI 2.5 became generally available on October 1.
Last week, EXTOL and S4i Systems unveiled a new partnership that sees the two vendors integrating their respective products to allow more automated handling of documents surrounding EDI and related business processes.
While EBI will continue to handle the routing of EDI and related documents through its various mechanisms, the integration with S4i Systems’ document management software will provide a convenient way for EXTOL customers to ensure that the supporting documents that aren’t typically sent through the EDI pipes–such as load tenders, package order status, shipping notices, proofs of delivery, and receipts–are properly captured, separated, indexed, bundled, delivered, and archived.
S4i president Spencer Elliott says the goal of the product integration is to simplify processes for joint customers. “One of the key value propositions we provide is a secure, reliable and auditable solution for supporting the EDI process by automatically distributing, archiving, and retrieving documents arising from an EDI transaction,” he states in a press release.