Commerce One has laid out its next-generation strategy that will use a Web services architecture in order to break apart its Source to Pay suite of applications into discrete components.
The two-pronged strategy includes complete rewrites of the company's platform that will ship as Version 6 and of the Source to Pay suite of applications which was a more or less monolithic application that allowed buyers to source, negotiate, procure and manage the buying process from beginning to end. However, in Version 6, many of these elements will be componentised.
"There is no single business process that is suitable for each customer. Each has different needs and even they change," said Sanjay Chikarmane, vice-president of marketing at Commerce One.
For example, in Version 6 a procurement specialist will be able to amend business processes on the fly as a standard RFQ changes or if a dollar threshold an existing contract is exceeded.
One industry analyst believes Commerce One is steering a wise course in its decision to rewrite its applications as Web services.
"Technologies like Sun's Sun ONE [Open Net Environment] initiative and Microsoft's .net and all the instantiations out there can put together these services more quickly and efficiently and do smaller and more discrete functions," said Laurie Orlov, research director, business applications, at Forrester Research.
Orlov also added that standards such as electronic data interchange (EDI) and RosettaNet for document exchange are complex, and Web services reduce these types of protocols to "bite-sized chunks".
By exposing the Source to Pay applications as Web services, Commerce One users will also be able to incorporate other Web services offered by other vendors, such as a logistics service into the Commerce One mix, as well as access a larger pool of suppliers - not just those inside a company's own application, Chikarmane said.
The second announcement is that a re-architecting of the Commerce One platform will be released separately and will offer tools for enterprise application integration (EAI) such as integration, business process management and use of those tools to generate unique applications.
"These are tools that allow you to change the actual business logic that drives the interface and change how an application behaves to the end-user," Chickarmane said.
Using Dell Computer as an example, Chickarmane said the company could take its knowledge management system and combine it with its Siebel application to create a self-service application for the end-user.
A beta version will be released in the fourth quarter and products will be available in the first quarter of next year.