Mix and match ERP systems

JD Edwards' Freedom to Choose initiative links in rivals' software

JD Edwards' Freedom to Choose initiative links in rivals' software

Enterprise software specialist JD Edwards has unveiled a strategy for collaborative commerce at its Forum 2000 annual user conference, writes Cliff Saran.

The initiative announced in Denver earlier this week is designed to provide users with a way of automating business processes across enterprise packages to achieve a business objective.

The Freedom to Choose strategy lets users break out of enterprise resource planning (ERP)-style implementations that traditionally involve a single supplier.

Edward McVaney, chairman of JD Edwards, said, "We are switching to offer a best-of-breed approach to enterprise software."

Using enterprise application integration (EAI), the supplier plans to offer users access to applications from software companies such as Siebel and MicroStrategy.

JD Edwards claims its Oneworld Extended Process Integration (XPI) software, which will be available in September, will also link to products such as Sap R/3.

The XPI release will support both eXtensible Mark-up Language (XML) and Java and will offer an Autopilot tool for automating application testing which uses pre-built testing scripts.

McVaney said users need their enterprise systems to offer the flexibility to change business processes and accommodate the evolving needs of their business partners and customers.

He said the initiative will, "deliver freedom from proprietary standards, freedom to adopt new technologies into an open, collaborative architecture and freedom of interoperability between applications".

JDEdwards has signed up integration specialist Active Software to develop a software hub that will allow Oneworld users to connect to other enterprise software.

Netfish, a producer of business-to-business e-commerce technology based on Xml, is another partner. JD Edwards said Netfish's work will help users simplify integration of their supply chain by providing technology designed to integrate internal and external processes and automate workflows.

Robert Rosati, president of JD Edwards user group Quest, said, "The more you standardise in an open way, the better it is for users."

He said that although EAI allows users to pick and choose the best from ERP packages, in practice users were likely to standardise on a single package.

Then they can build or acquire specialist software modules from third parties to link into the core ERP system. "It does not make sense to have an Sap for sales and JD Edwards for manufacturing," Rosati said.

He added that the XPI release will provide users with a standard interface for Oneworld through which a business' suppliers and customers can link.

Armstrong, a US tile manufacturer, sees the JD Edwards initiative as a way to automate some of its supplier relationships. "At the moment, within the JD Edwards Active Supply Chain module we manually share output information with our suppliers," said Jill Henderson, manager of supply chain processes at Armstrong.

She sees the XPI release as a way to automate this process.

It could be used to provide the company's mobile sales force with online information.

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