IBM has released its first middleware product designed to help companies manage product information across their supply chains.
IBM's WebSphere Product Center Version 5 is designed to help companies manage all types of information about their products, including price, location and promotions. It acts as a central repository for data pulled in from a myriad of existing applications.
IBM acquired the software through its acquisition of Trigo Technologies in April. It is an upgrade to Trigo's existing product, version 4.2, and is priced starting from $300,000 (£161,250) per processor, said Daniel Druker of IBM's WebSphere products group.
Version 5 scales to support a higher number of product entries than did its predecessor, and it can support a greater number of simultaneous users on each server - as many as 30,000 or more, according to Druker. Screens come back 40% faster on average for end users and the interface now supports nine languages, he said.
Key to the product is its ability to provide manufacturers, retailers and other partners with synchronised, up-to-the-minute information about products, Druker said. It can also feed data to kiosks in retail stores where consumers can look up product information.
IBM will to integrate WebSphere Product Center with WebSphere Commerce in the fourth quarter, and with its WebSphere Portal and RFID (radio frequency identification) middleware products at a later date, he said.
Meanwhile, Oracle also plans to release a rival offering, called Product Data Hub, later this year or early in 2005.
The Product Data Hub will be based on the same idea as its Customer Data Hub, which was released in January. Customer Data Hub provides businesses with a single view of all the information about its customers, by consolidating customer data from different sources, including non-Oracle applications.
Product Data Hub will be based on the same idea, acting as a repository for information about pricing, product inventory numbers and which suppliers should have access to which products, said Ashinsh Mohindroo, product director for integration server technology at Oracle. It will be introduced late this year or early next year.
Oracle also announced its Application Server 10g has been certified as supporting Intel's and Cisco Systems' implementations of the RosettaNet B2B commerce protocol, as well as the EDIINT (Electronic Data Interchange over the Internet) AS2 protocol used by Wal-Mart Stores to do business with its suppliers, Mohindroo said.
James Niccolai writes for IDG News Service