Information Builders Did It iWay

  • Written By: M. Reed
  • Published: March 6 2001

Information M. Reed - March 6, 2001

Event Summary

Information Builders (IBI, privately held) has announced plans to spin off its middleware technology group (which develops and supports the EDA middleware product) into a new wholly owned subsidiary named iWay Software. The move is designed to allow Information Builders (IBI) to concentrate on the WebFocus and Focus business intelligence products, while allowing iWay to handle e-business integration using its suite of iWay software products (many based on EDA technology) and other former IBI offerings, including the SmartMart data warehousing suite.

According to Gerald Cohen, CEO of both Information Builders and iWay Software, "We carefully considered all our options for effectively supporting and growing our business intelligence and integration product lines before we entered into this milestone decision. Establishing a subsidiary will not only streamline Information Builders' ability to respond to the needs of its customers, but it will also give us an opportunity to brand our multiple product lines more effectively, thereby maximizing efficiency in the marketplace."

President John Senor, formerly vice president and general manager of the middleware product line and founder of the EDA division, will lead the new company, which is comprised of Information Builders' former Middleware Technology Group. The new company will focus on delivering rapid e-business integration solutions built on its newly announced suite of enterprise integration products. "As a part of Information Builders, we delivered rock-solid technologies that could integrate information from over 120 different sources and operating environments. This includes all legacy data, relational databases, ERP, and application products," said Senor. "That capability is critical for e-business, because e-business requires comprehensive access to all information assets in the enterprise."

Market Impact

iWay Software hits the ground running with more than 25 technology and services partners, including IBM, Oracle, NEON (New Era of Networks, not NEON Systems), i2 Technologies, Informix and others, who are participating in a variety of cross-licensing, co-marketing, and OEM agreements. Other vendors in this market space will have to make sure that they keep up with iWay, since the new spin-off starts out with an established customer base (from the EDA product, which has been on the market for ten years), name recognition in accounts (particularly due to the Focus products), existing agreements with partners, and an already-trained consulting staff.

As noted in many previous TEC articles, e-Business Integration is definitely the hot area at the moment. It is critical to firms attempting to integrate legacy data into web platforms, especially for access to historical data used in customer relationship management (CRM), and supply chain management (SCM) applications. EAI, or enterprise application integration, is the term commonly applied to this type of application, and it is clearly not a passing fad. Companies are rushing madly to "webify" their applications, and any software product that speeds implementation time and/or allows access to a "difficult" data source will have a leg up on the competition.

User Recommendations

Potential customers for EAI-type products should carefully examine the range of data sources that will have to be accessed to populate a web application, both now and in the near future. The vendor chosen would have to supply native interfaces (where possible) to the required data sources, and a fairly easy way to convert data out of sources which have no published API. Both reading and writing data should be supported for each source. In the case of mainframe data, it is preferable that the product(s) chosen not require a gateway for access. In addition, strong built-in support for XML must be supplied. Speed of solution implementation should be a key differentiator of the chosen software, since everyone has found out that the web moves in real-time. You either keep up or get out of the way.

A long list of potential vendors could include IBI, IBM, ETI, Informix, Informatica, NEON Systems, Oracle, WebMethods, Tibco, BEA Systems, and others.

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