SAP AG and BackWeb Technologies announced an agreement to leverage BackWeb’s Internet communication infrastructure and selected application modules as part of the SAP Customer Relationship Management offerings. The SAP Sales, SAP Service, and SAP Marketing solutions together make up a CRM solution designed to manage the entire life cycle of customer relationships. The combined solution provides customers with intelligent information gathering from the Internet and intranet that is easily delivered to the desktop for efficiency and enhanced decision-making capabilities. Specifically, the agreement with BackWeb includes bundling the BackWeb Foundation, the Automated Marketing Encyclopedia and the Market Intelligence Manager with both the SAP Sales and SAP Service solutions. The BackWeb Foundation, BackWeb’s Internet communication infrastructure, is a priority communications system based on a set of technologies that enable an organization to capture information from any data source and efficiently and reliably deliver it throughout the extended enterprise. The Market Intelligence Manager automatically gathers information about competitors, customers and the marketplace from any Internet or intranet location. The Automated Marketing Encyclopedia automatically delivers large documents to multiple users reliably and securely. BackWeb enables companies to adapt quickly to changing market conditions through direct interaction with their sales and service personnel, thereby accelerating the execution of their business processes www.backweb.com
OASIS announced the creation of XML.ORG, a global XML industry portal to be operated by a non-profit corporation devoted to open information exchange. Over 23 industry-leading corporations, organizations and individual experts have voiced support for the formation of XML.ORG. Central to XML.ORG will be an open industry XML registry and repository offering automated public access to XML schemas. The registry/repository will play a critical enabling role in the use of industry-defined XML applications for electronic commerce, business-to-business transactions, and tools and application interoperability. The debut of XML.ORG signifies a major step in OASIS’ ongoing registry and repository efforts, work that has been in progress for the last the 12 months. In keeping with its consensus-focused mission, OASIS will strive to ensure interoperability with existing and emerging XML initiatives, and will continue to actively solicit participation by any similar efforts. Companies who fund the XML.ORG web site are called XML.ORG partners. Founding partners will be given the one-time opportunity to join the XML.ORG Steering Committee, which is responsible for setting XML.ORG priorities, defining the technical direction of the portal, and determining what kinds of XML specifications are in or out of scope for the XML registry. www.oasis-open.org
SoftQuad Software Inc. has started shipping XMetaL 1.0, a full-featured, easy-to-use XML authoring tool. XMetaL is an advanced, simple to deploy XML authoring tool for customers working with XML and SGML. Modeled on common word processing applications, it offers a familiar, easy-to-use, authoring environment that virtually eliminates unnecessary learning curves and training costs. By easily creating XML content, XMetaL eliminates the need to convert documents authored in traditional word processors, streamlines the publishing process and substantially reduces conversion expenses. XMetaL’s extensive customization features enable the authoring environment to be optimized for any DTD, in many instances without programming. Its COM-based architecture and support for any Windows scripting language ensure that XMetaL can be extended and integrated into any existing publishing infrastructure. Its comprehensive support of SGML and web technologies makes XMetaL a tool for any hybrid SGML/XML environment. XMetaL is shipping today and is available at a cost of U.S. $495 per single user license. The product will be sold both directly and through VARs and OEMs. Volume discounts, site licenses, partner programs and on-site training are all available. www.softquad.com
Microsoft Corp. announced availability of the first draft specifications of the BizTalk Framework, a new BizTalk.Org Web site and charter members of the BizTalk steering committee. These BizTalk Framework initiatives aim to accelerate the widespread adoption of XML for electronic commerce and application integration. Draft specifications for BizTalk Framework Tags and BizTalk Framework Documents have been published on the BizTalk.Org Web site at www.biztalk.org/. The draft BizTalk Framework specifications outline XML design guidelines for developing and implementing BizTalk Framework schemas and provide organizations with an initial blueprint for building BizTalk-enabled software. The BizTalk steering committee, composed of industry-leading vendors, standards bodies and corporate customers, will independently manage the BizTalk.Org Web site and provide guidance on the future direction of the BizTalk Framework. Charter members include American Petroleum Institute, Ariba Inc., The Baan Co., The Boeing Co., Commerce One Inc., Concur Technologies Inc., Data Interchange Standards Association (DISA), J.D. Edwards, Merrill Lynch & Company Inc., Microsoft, Open Applications Group (OAG), PeopleSoft Inc., Pivotal Software Inc. and SAP AG. The BizTalk.Org Web site serves as an open repository for the submission and publication of BizTalk Framework schemas that will allow organizations to easily integrate applications and exchange documents such as product catalogs, purchase orders, and product and promotional information. This Web site will serve as the online reference for BizTalk Framework specifications, schemas, reference materials, tools, sample applications and a community newsgroup. www.microsoft.com/industry/biztalk.
Excalibur Technologies announced that it has signed an integration and OEM agreement with Progressive Technology Federal Systems, Inc. (PTFS). The agreement calls for PTFS to integrate Excalibur RetrievalWare, Excalibur’s high performance search and retrieval application, into PTFS’s AVATAR Digital Asset Management System (ADAMS). ADAMS is a Web based solution for archiving, managing, retrieving and disseminating 100% of an organization’s digital assets ranging from archived photographs, rare books, full text imaged and electronic documents, digital video/audio, and virtually any type of digital object. www.ptfs.com, www.excalib.com
Travel suppliers from the air, car and hotel industries with the support of the Air Transport Association (ATA) and The Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association (HEDNA), announce the formation of the Open Travel Alliance (the Alliance). The Alliance is a travel industry group, assembled to create and promote new electronic commerce standards that improve the way information is exchanged between suppliers, distributors and consumers. This new initiative, led by air, car and hotel suppliers, has set as its initial goal the delivery of a directory of common industry data labels to be exchanged among the travel supplier, distributor, and customer reservations computer systems. The Alliance’s goal is to include participation from air, car, hotel and other travel suppliers, but also global distribution systems and travel agencies, as well as many other developers of travel-oriented products and services. Open communication standards between the industries, developed by the Alliance, will facilitate a cost-effective exchange of information and will ultimately reduce duplication of efforts and create new innovative distribution opportunities. One of the Alliance’s first steps in moving toward this goal is the creation of an “open” set of standard XML definitions to facilitate communication between users. This “thesaurus” of terms will allow users to choose how they communicate between systems. Companies currently participating in the Open Travel Alliance are: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Midwest Express Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Trans World Airlines, United Airlines, Vanguard Airlines, Bass Hotels and Resorts, Hilton Hotels, Hyatt Corporation, Marriott International, Sterling Hotels, Swissotel, Alamo Rent A Car, Avis Rent A Car, Budget Rent-A-Car, Dollar Rent A Car Systems, Inc., Hertz Corporation, National Car Rental and Thrifty Car Rental. www.opentravel.com
webMethods, Inc., announced at the Open Buying on the Internet (OBI) Consortium’s Quarterly Members Meeting that the company has joined the OBI Consortium, a non-profit organization dedicated to developing open standards for business-to-business e-commerce. webMethods will include support for OBI in the 3.0 release of webMethods B2B, which will be released mid-summer. As an OBI Consortium member, webMethods will collaborate with Intelisys to champion future OBI support for the XML. Together, webMethods and Intelisys will deliver the combined benefits of XML and OBI to buyers and suppliers that want to implement B2B e-commerce solutions and automate business procurement over the Internet. The OBI Consortium is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing open standards for business-to-business Internet commerce. Membership in the Consortium is open to buying and selling organizations, technology companies, financial institutions, and other interested parties on an annual fee basis. The Consortium provides a forum for standards development, education, and compliance certification. www.openbuy.org
Sterling Commerce, Inc. unveiled its new GENTRAN Web Suite, a family of Web integration components designed to enable business process integration reliably and securely via the Internet. Through partnerships with webMethods and Cyclone Software, Sterling Commerce will add two new components, Real-time Integration and Internet Data Exchange, to GENTRAN Web Suite. Internet Data Exchange — Developed in partnership with Cyclone Software, facilitates simplified inter-enterprise messaging because it can communicate with other interoperable solutions that support the S/MIME and EDIINT standards. Real-time Integration — Via the new partnership with webMethods, uses XML to enable an organization to integrate its business applications with the Web sites, ERP applications and business systems of its partners. www.sterlingcommerce.com