All Aboard for Commerce One’s Conductor

Clint Boulton

Updated · Mar 24, 2003

Commerce One is
turning over a new leaf.


Quiet for awhile, the Pleasanton, Calif. concern Monday embarked on its new
Web services strategy with the release of a software integration platform it
hopes to sell to enterprises looking to put some zip in their management of
business processes.


The former electronic marketplace software concern, feeling the burden of
decreased spending in the software sector after many of its actual and
potential dot-com customers went out of business, made Commerce One
Conductor available to the public.


Like most e-commerce software of its ilk, Conductor helps companies speed
the flow of such business processes as supply chain management (SCM),
customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning
(ERP). This makes it possible for customer and partner interaction to
proceed without a hitch, unencumbered by the limits of existing applications
or platforms.


Conductor’s architecture is in keeping with the red-hot software system
trend of making multiple applications viewable through a single graphical
user interface (GUI). This pares the time and cost of writing and using
composite applications, as compared to using a combination of technologies
like BPM, EAI, portals, identity management and various design tools.
Business analysts can compose whole business processes and add new
application features and functions that complement customers’ systems
through the GUI. This service-oriented architecture is the direction many
firms are heading to stay competitive.


ZapThink Senior Analyst Jason Bloomberg, who spoke with Commerce One recently, said he got the idea Commerce One is betting the company on Conductor.


“The company has been through too many ups and downs and has been in the red for too long,” Bloomberg told internetnews.com. “That being said, Conductor looks like a strong, comprehensive offering in the Service Orientation space. Commmerce One’s strengths in the CPG, retail,
automotive, and discrete manufacturing verticals gives them a great
niche to build out their offering, as many other vendors are focusing on
financial services, government, and healthcare.”


Customers have already tested and endorsed Conductor. Commerce One
has sold the software platform to such diverse industrial firms as BOC
Gases, Eastman Chemical, Open GIS Consortium, Enporion, Industrial
Technology Research Institute (Taiwan), MSX, Siemens and UCCNet. These
businesses essentially served as guinea pigs for Commerce One’s new product
strategy.


Industrial gas supplier BOC Gases uses Conductor to speed its ordering
processes by exposing internal product codes and specifications directly to
its customers. Customers can gather specific details of available gas
directly on BOC Gases’ internal systems before choosing to configure a
custom mix.


ZapThink Senior Analyst Ronald Schmelzer said Commerce One is entering new ground, one fraught with heavy competition.


“Rather than competing with the likes of Ariba, they are now competing with a wide range of vendors in the Web Services-based integration and process markets. This includes
integration companies like IONA, Actional, as well as offerings from Microsoft, BEA, and IBM,” Schmelzer told internetnews.com. “They are also heading straight into the highly competitive BPM and Workflow markets that are rapidly becoming service-enabled. This includes companies like Intalio, Oak Gove Systems, Handysoft, and Savvion. The world is definitely getting more competitive for
them, so it’s not a given that they will be able to leverage their brand and
capabilities learned from their marketplace and e-Procurement days to the
emerging, and thus quite chaotic, marketplace for services-based B2B
integration.”


Commerce One Conductor is made up of a number of components, but the
platform’s brain is its Registry, which
defines user and system interfaces as services. The Registry maintains full
definitions of user roles and access, systems, business processes, data
schemas, transformation maps, choreographies, rules and security
requirements — all of which may be modified as required by the enterprise
customer.


Conductor also features the Interoperability Engine, which provides
interoperability across applications participating in the business process.
It works with the Registry to determine such details as document formats,
locations and security requirements, and performs transformation and
versioning, message and document security, signatures, routing and transport
needed for secure, reliable interoperation.


The platform includes smaller components such as Process Manager, a run-time
engine where the business process is executed from the services accessed by
the Interoperability Engine; a Graphical Process Builder, which allows a
business analyst to construct business processes from the resources listed
and defined in the Registry; a Design Suite, which offers tools required to
create business processes and composite applications; and Systems
Management, which tracks messages, monitors components and manages topology
installation, configuration, and data loading.


Commerce One will eventually release Process Accelerators that will provide
business processes that can be implemented easily within the Conductor
platform. These software components will address common business processes,
such as supply and demand planning and management and invoice handling.


The base price for Conductor is $300,000.

Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton

Clint Boulton, a senior writer at CIO, covers IT leadership, digital transformation, and the CIO role. He was a content marketer for Dell APEX. Inspire IT leaders with tales about the advantages of multi-cloud infrastructures. Dunning-Kruger bias is something that keeps IT leaders sceptical, but curious nonetheless.