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EAI Vendor Looks To Power Of Channel

Ulysses Knotts, CEO of CommerceQuest, said he expects the unveiling of the company's new enterprise application integration software and ongoing development of a reseller program to boost business.

"Right now this is a very small piece of our business because we've never had the product before," said Knotts. "We would expect it to quickly grow in the range of 25 [percent to 30 percent of our business."

CommerceQuest, an enterprise integration vendor based in Tampa, Fla., unveiled its CICS Process Integrator (CPI) on Oct. 29 at Gartner's Application and Web Services Conference in Chicago. The company focuses on enterprise accounts, and its customers include The Home Depot, American Express and Coca-Cola Bottling.

Paul Roth, CTO of CommerceQuest, said CPI is a component-based architecture to help large enterprises access, integrate, service-enable and extend Web services to all corporate data residing on IBM CICS/390 mainframes.

"There are really a few different categories of functionality being delivered with CPI," said Roth. "Customers wanted something that allowed their mainframe to participate directly rather than indirectly through an adapter or a gateway."

Unlike other integration products, said Knotts, CPI accesses data and associated business logic directly inside the mainframe, reducing the need for additional programming, costly migration or gateways. "Other products do this in an arms-length fashion, through a gateway or a connector, and work from a simple, low-end integration," said Knotts. "But as soon as the customer tries to run an operational business process through these environments, they kind of roll over and die. So we came up with a product that solves that problem."

CPI can provide access to data resources in realtime and bi-directionally regardless of type, browser and select/updates, said Knotts. Once the data is accessed, it is interoperable with any application inside or outside an enterprise via XML, Knotts said.

CPI also provides programmers with a productivity-enhancing Integrated Development Environment and high-productivity WebSphereMQ programming support, he said.

Dale Vecchio, research director at Gartner, said the application integration market is poised for a more services-oriented approach, enabling it to move toward a standard interoperability interface that promotes legacy systems reuse. "Vendors that directly expose legacy systems for Webcentric composite applications will reduce the risk and cost of modernizing mainframe-based information assets," said Vecchio.

Knotts said CommerceQuest is focused on its own vertical customer base, which includes large financial services companies, big retailers, telecoms and utility companies.

"There really hasn't been a big integrated package that deals with their core operational systems," said Knotts. "But really, any large mainframe CICS customer is a potential user."

To reach a broader market, CommerceQuest is talking with large systems integrators and is developing a reseller program, Knotts said. While the CPI reseller program is still a work in progress, the strategy will be key to the company's plans and will include a heavy focus on partners with the right vertical expertise, he added.

"We think it makes perfect sense to open a reseller program, particularly for areas where we do not have industry expertise," said Knotts. "We plan to look to consultants and systems integrators with a strong play in a variety of industries."

Pricing for CPI varies depending on the needs of the account, but most customers will start out in the $500,000 price range in order to deploy integration for a series of applications, Knotts said. "As people get used to the development environment, we've seen they'll pick off two or three other big apps they want to integrate," he said. "Beyond that, they may come back and say they want to do an enterprise license agreement."

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