The partnership mirrors a trend in which platform vendors such as BEA, IBM and Sun Microsystems are adding integration servers and services to their stacks, putting pressure on traditional EAI (enterprise application integration) companies such as Tibco Software, Vitria Technology and webMethods.
The BEA-Mercator deal targets several pre-packaged vertical solutions from Mercator, including one that supports global straight-through processing of transactions within the financial services industry; healthcare claims and processing, as well as HIPAA-related standards integration; and EDI (electronic data interchange) and XML integration for manufacturing, retail, and distribution industries. These integration products help companies automate business processes to provide a more fluid exchange of information among customers and partners, according to Mercator officials.
"Mercator's strategy sees the infrastructure players such as BEA as the key influencers in a customer's quest for integration, but acknowledges customers also want to buy that integration from best-of-breed vertical players," Jill Donohoe, senior vice-president of global alliances and corporate development, said. "We see this as a marriage of two leaders in those spaces."
Such pre-built business processes offer a simpler, more cost-effective way for companies to phase in integration projects across parts of their enterprise, according to analysts.
"[These vertical components] predefine everything for you," Joanne Friedman, a senior analyst at Meta Group, said. "They are business processes or pre-packaged applications with specific use in mind. This gets you out of the quagmire of needing huge EAI integration capabilities, and then deciding how to build systems to address business problems."
Friedman said that while such systems are not totally plug and play, customisation requirements are minimal, with perhaps as little as 10% of the implementation needing to be tailored for a specific company's needs.
The vertical approach to integration is increasingly supported by major industry players, including Vitria, Iona Technologies, IBM, and Tibco, according to Friedman. IBM has recently introduced its WebSphere Business Integration for industries solution, which involves pre-built business process templates for a variety of specific industries.
The BEA-Mercator deal is non-exclusive and effective immediately.