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A pair of EDI stalwarts are ramping up process integration services as complementary solutions for business-to-business customers.

Global Exchange Services Inc. and Sterling Commerce Inc., which between them move billions of supply chain documents through hundreds of thousands of trading partners, plan to add enhanced process integration as a service to better enable collaboration.

For GXS’ 30,000 trading hub users and Sterling’s 50,000 users, the burden of electronically integrating with new partners and suppliers can now be shifted from internal resources to external, with the added bonus of being able to add new services on top of the integration capabilities.

“[These capabilities] will reduce the overall time to bring a new product to market, which is substantial in highly competitive markets like fast-moving consumer goods and high tech,” said Eric Austvold, an analyst with AMR Research Inc., in Boston. “There are some really big things going on here.”

GXS, most of which is owned by IT investment company Francisco Partners Management LLC, announced last week a multiyear co-development alliance with WebMethods Inc. that will enable GXS to embed WebMethods’ Fabric process integration platform and composite application platform into its Trading Grid platform.

Trading Grid is a service-oriented integration platform, but when it was announced in September, GXS didn’t have the resources to develop adequate integration capabilities.

The composite application work is part of the co-development agreement with WebMethods, of Fairfax, Va., and will include vertically oriented applications around such industries as retail and technology. GXS and WebMethods expect to deliver the new capabilities in the first half of next year.

For Kevin McGee, the B2B systems technical lead at Borders Group Inc., the changes at GXS means Borders will be able to move large data files quickly, rather than in batch mode.

“With WebMethods, the ability for GXS to either—IBM went down this path, too—move traditional large files and some of the quick-hitting files that needed to be exchanged [is present],” said McGee in Ann Arbor, Mich. “But we’re still in the evolutionary phase. No one has solved that. We still need to move large volumes of data that traditional [electronic data interchange providers] can’t do yet.”

Click here to read about Sterling Commerce’s acquisition of TR2.

Separately, Sterling, of Dublin, Ohio, will announce this week at the Gartner Application Integration and Web Services Summit in Orlando, Fla., its Multi-enterprise Collaboration strategy to enable process collaboration among trading partners. The company also will release the details of its Multi-enterprise Services Architecture, the technology stack enabling its collaboration strategy, as well as a partnership with Entrust Inc. to provide a secure platform for process collaboration.

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