EXTOL Bolsters B2B Tool for Complex Trading Environments
September 23, 2014 Alex Woodie
When you work in a complex supply chain, maintaining data and application integration points among multiple parties can be challenging. Make a change to one system, and it can have unforeseen impacts down the line. This is the sort of situation that EXTOL is looking to alleviate with the addition of “intelligent developer” features in the latest release of EXTOL Business Integrator (EBI).
EBI is EXTOL’s flagship EDI and enterprise integration broker software for IBM i, Windows, and Linux. The Java-based suite delivers standard X12 and EDIFACT EDI functionality, but goes beyond that by adding next-gen AS2, FTP/S, and SMTP capabilities; connectors that pull data from databases, XML, and spreadsheets; and adapters that utilize the APIs and web services exposed by ERP systems and cloud-based SaaS offerings. Rounding out the suite is a graphical design environment that uses wizards and pre-built templates to streamline the creation of customized B2B mappings, and the capability to monitor B2B workflows and manage by exceptions and alerts.
The new “intelligent developer” functions that EXTOL delivered with EBI 3.1 are aimed at helping customers improve project management by delivering better data organization, version control, project testing, and project reusability.
In the project management space, EBI 3.1 lets customers group objects and organize their integration objects the way they want, says EXTOL product manager David Ogozalek. For example, by allowing a customer to organize their EBI objects by trading partner, it enables them to quickly find errors and objects, he says.
EXTOL has also made it easier to share EBI objects with other people or groups of people, which promotes reuse and team development, Ogozalek says. Likewise, integration with the open source SVN version control software provides oversight and transparency into the team development process.
Mapping is the heart of B2B and EDI environments, and version 3.1 brings enhancements here, namely in the form of support for undo/redo, and copy/paste functionality. Other enhancements in the EDI project wizard, such as enabling users to duplicate any existing EDI project and to automatically rename all objects, will accelerate the onboarding of new partners, Ogozalek says.
EXTOL has also separated the EBI studio and server components, which allows users to connect to multiple servers for deployment or auditing without leaving their desktops, Ogozalek says.
The new functionality builds on the “smart mapping” functionality that EXTOL unveiled several years ago. The company says it used artificial intelligence with its smart mappers to predict customer mapping needs based on the most commonly used maps.
“With better project management, testing, and compliance, IT departments can do more with their resources, and onboard new trading partners even faster,” EXTOL CTO Josh Baran says in a press release. “The new features of EBI were designed through regular customer feedback and rigorous testing, making version 3.1 a smarter, faster, and more robust integrator.”
It’s all about speeding the delivery of B2B development efforts. “We have added new intelligent development features for teams to work smarter by simplifying processes and utilizing preventative measures,” Baran says.
In other news, EXTOL announced a partnership with Viewlocity Technologies, the Dallas, Texas-based developer of supply chain management applications that run on IBM i and other platforms. As part of the alliance, EBI will be integrated with Viewlocity’s Control Tower Platform.
Control Tower Platform is an enterprise application management tool designed to provide a customer with a single overarching view across multiple ERP, WMS, supply chain execution, and other enterprise environments. A description of the software appears on the website of Viewlocity’s parent company, Friedman (which itself is owned by Constellation Group).
“With EXTOL, our customers can realize end-to-end data integration, while the Viewlocity Control Tower Platform solution enables real-time access to the data, providing analysis reports on metrics that help achieve better informed and faster business decisions,” says Chris Anderson, president of Viewlocity.
EBI 3.1 is available now. While it is designed to support IBM i environments, EXTOL recommends that customers run the software on a separate Windows or Linux server.