J.D. Edwards Chooses Freedom to Choose EAI
Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: July 27 2000
J.D. Edwards Chooses Freedom to Choose EAI
At its FOCUS 2000 annual user group meeting, which took place in Denver
on June 19-22, J.D. Edwards' top executives unveiled a slew of initiatives
that they claim will really change the enterprise applications vendor's
direction. According to its press release from June 20, J.D. Edwards announced
its "Freedom to Choose" business strategy designed to meet customers'
needs for flexibility and choice in the design and assembly of new technologies,
solutions and partnerships to enable the next phase of e-business: Collaborative
should be the ability to deliver open, collaborative technologies that
allow communication among vendors, suppliers and customers across the
supply chain, thereby maximizing value in business-to-business environments.
To that end, J.D. Edwards has forged a number of alliances since September
1999 as the company looks to expand the availability of its OneWorld product
CEO and President C. Edward McVaney introduced details of the company's
strategy to over 8,000 customers and partners at its annual user conference,
FOCUS 2000. "In order to succeed in this collaborative world, customers
need extended enterprise plug and play, the end game of freedom to choose.
They need to have the flexibility to change business processes and accommodate
the evolving needs of their partners and customers, and do not want to
be dictated to by single-source vendors," said McVaney. "J.D. Edwards'
Freedom to Choose initiative is a natural extension of our Idea to Action
value proposition, as we move forward to deliver freedom from proprietary
standards, freedom to adopt new technologies into an open, collaborative
architecture, and freedom of interoperability between all applications."
Edwards claims that the underlying workhorse for its strategy is the latest
release of its flagship product, OneWorld Xe (where "Xe" stands for "extended
enterprise"), which provides a flexible architecture, pre-integrated applications,
and interoperability to power the J.D. Edwards ActivEra solutions to deliver
inter-enterprise collaboration. It will include OneWorld Scripting Tool
intended to help users maintain their customizations as they transition
their systems and improvements.
technology behind the company's new interoperability strategy, which should
give customers the power to collaborate using multiple extended applications
that are shared among numerous enterprises, is Extended Process Integration
(XPI). XPI, which will be Web-enabled, will support both HTML and Java,
and will offer an Autopilot tool for automating application testing, which
uses pre-built testing scripts, will be available in September 2000. XPI
allows disparate technologies within an organization to effectively work
together using functionality acquired through J.D. Edwards' new agreement
with e-business infrastructure provider Active Software, Inc.
the long-term development agreement from June 20, the two companies will
partner to embed the ActiveWorks open platform into the OneWorld Xe architecture.
While the new solution is under development, J.D. Edwards will resell
the ActiveWorks product with OneWorld Xe, enabling customers to take advantage
of the new agreement immediately, worldwide. ActiveWorks supports major
application, platform and networking standards and provides an open platform
for building products and solutions that expand a customer's collaboration
order to provide multi-enterprise collaboration among vendors, partners
and suppliers, J.D. Edwards will embed Netfish's XML-enabled processes
and technology. The company touts that customers will see immediate benefits
of the seamless web of processes, intelligence and value of these strategies,
with further rapid progress expected over the next 6 -18 months. On June
20, J.D. Edwards and Netfish Technologies, Inc., a leader in XML-based
business-to-business eCommerce solutions, announced that the two companies
have signed an agreement to embed Netfish XDI B2B process integration
technology into future versions of OneWorld Xe enterprise software. J.D.
Edwards will immediately begin selling the current version of the Netfish
XDI System on an OEM basis to provide its customers with an interim solution
while the two companies develop the new, integrated solution.
Edwards chose Netfish as a leader in XML-based B2B integration, to enable
its customers to collaborate across the supply chain with their partners
and customers, regardless of which technology runs in their enterprises.
As a result, J.D. Edwards delivers fully integrated support for RosettaNet
standards, with all published PIPs (partner interface processes), enabling
J.D. Edwards' customers in the electronic component and information technology
sectors to conduct B2B transactions electronically using the XML based
inter-enterprise technology standards, developed by RosettaNet.
Netfish's best-of-breed B2B integration technology as a core component
of our collaborative applications will help our customers reach beyond
their enterprises, giving them the opportunity to gain tremendous cost
and time-to-market advantages through cross-enterprise process automation,"
said Ed McVaney. "This agreement will enable our customers to communicate
across the supply chain, no matter what technology their suppliers, distributors
and customers use to conduct business. We believe that this will help
us deliver sustainable competitive advantage to our customers."
the two companies' technology, J.D. Edwards plans to integrate its ERP
software, OneWorld, with its older AS 400-based WorldSoftware. It also
plans to integrate OneWorld with third-party applications from companies
such as Siebel and Ariba. As announced at the beginning of the year, the
J.D. Edwards' storefront for e-business will be powered using IBM's Websphere
Commerce suite. J.D. Edwards has also reviewed its reselling agreement
with Siebel to include Siebel's entire suite of front office applications.
Moreover, JDE has decided to enter the arena of B2B electronic exchanges
with Active Marketplace. The TRADEX Commerce Center platform is the basis
for this and as with other exchanges, the idea is to link trading communities
in an on-line marketplace. Yet another earlier partnership is with Extensity,
a vendor that delivers automated travel and expense reporting software.
for Supply Chain Management (SCM) users is the general availability release
of the Active Supply Chain suite of applications, which was originally
developed by the former Numetrix group, which J.D. Edwards acquired last
year (for more details, see TEC's News Analysis from July 7 "J.
D. Edwards FOCUSes on Active Supply Chain").
notable announcement was its agreement with i2 Technologies whereby i2
will host J.D.Edwards' One World suite within i2's TradeMatrix marketplaces
and will become the first worldwide distributor of OneWorld (for more
details, see TEC's News Analysis from July 12 "i2
Technologies' Latest Offering: J. D. Edwards OneWorld").
but not least, on June 27, J.D. Edwards announced its support of MicroStrategy
7, the latest offering from MicroStrategy Incorporated, a leading worldwide
provider of Intelligent E-Business software. J.D. Edwards' business-to-business
software combines the Intelligent E-Business Platform of MicroStrategy
7 with open, collaborative business intelligence capabilities that will
enable customers to enhance analytical/decision support capabilities and
make better decisions across the supply chain. J.D. Edwards claims it
has selected the MicroStrategy 7 platform because of its analytical richness,
wireless capabilities, capability to scale to the largest databases, ease
and extent of customization, and enterprise manageability.
goal is to support the decision-making process from business to business
across the extended enterprise in an open, collaborative manner to deliver
sustainable competitive advantage for our customers," said Ed McVaney.
"MicroStrategy's Intelligent E-Business platform combined with our open,
collaborative technology will offer organizations the ability to receive
strategic insight about the operation of their company by delivering the
right information to the right employees at the right time, no matter
where they are."
The good news is that J.D. Edwards seems to finally have a clear-cut strategy
and direction, however thorny and harrowing the path may be. The company
made the point at its annual user conference both to explain to users
and analysts its dismal financial performance over the last 18 months
and to outline its significantly different tack for the future. While
we were moderately impressed by the announcements, some customers might
have been relieved to a degree by J.D. Edwards' invigorated posture and
1999 and in the first half of 2000, J.D. Edwards spent a hefty amount
of its R&D expenses on resolving quality inconsistencies, missed functionality,
poor performance, and Web-enablement of its OneWorld flagship product
and on building its relationships with Ariba and Siebel Systems. To further
rub a salt in a wound, the company had to acknowledge the existence of
notable quality problems associated with the above-mentioned endeavors.
The only light in the tunnel was the completion of integrating Numetrix
with its OneWorld ERP suite and re-branding it as Active Supply Chain
(ASC). We believe ASC has a potential of becoming a strong foundation
for building upon the necessary components of inter-enterprise collaboration,
order fulfillment, and digital marketplaces.
Edwards appears to have finally pulled itself together, although in the
nick of time. All that remains to be done is to execute the strategy flawlessly.
Do we even have to mention that it will take some serious doing?!
we condone J.D. Edwards' move to position itself as an ERP vendor to convince
mainly medium sized manufacturing enterprises that it is necessary to
extend their activities into e-collaboration, we also believe that managing
this large application portfolio (a kind of a software Frankenstein),
much of which involves partnering or extensive integration and customization,
will be cumbersome despite its highly marketed flexible product architecture.
should never neglect the inevitable intricacies of managing softer, people
issues with multiple levels of indirectness. An illustration can be a
demonstration that one could have seen at FOCUS 2000. That showed Ariba
CommerceCenter (Tradex) marketplace take an order and pass it into OneWorld
(ERP back-office) and from there into Active Supply Chain (ASC). After
performing all necessary collaboration with alerts and equivalent responses
to a problem, the sale was updated via Siebel and due analysis was conducted
with MicroStrategy modules. Finally, required materials were ordered via
Ariba e-procurement. While impressive, it is mind boggling at the same
time. It is not that easy to remember all those disparate products' names
and their respective functions, let alone to make this concoction work
seamlessly in the long run!
product alliances can often be a good thing. E-commerce trends are by
nature very dynamic, and no single vendor can provide all required components.
Native integration is becoming less of an issue, particularly in the higher
end of the market - acquiring the best products at the acceptable price
to meet an e-business strategy is the major issue. Nevertheless, it is
still intriguing why J.D. Edwards needs more 3rd party partnerships than
most of its competitors - a double-digit number of alliances have been
announced since September 1999.
the best-of-breed approach can have its merits, we believe it consistently
leads to additional integration costs and complicates service & support
arrangements. Interfaces between significant components like ERP, CRM
and/or e-business usually require significant tailoring. This can be a
barrier to future changes as further modifying already modified code is
notoriously time consuming, costly, and risky. J.D. Edwards' heavy reliance
on other vendor's software, therefore, contradicts its aggressive positioning
around flexibility, which customers may find somewhat disconcerting.
the EAI market is currently a nascent and fragmented one, and is burdened
with difficulties. While there are a lot of vendors vying for a position,
there is no single company that offers a complete product set that can
deal with all the issues an enterprise faces when trying to integrate
either internal or external applications.
caveats also lie in the complex nature of EAI software and the power struggles
that are currently taking place in the market. There are indications of
existence of more than several dozen of 'versions' of XML. Keeping track
of these will be a gut-wrenching work and J.D. Edwards will need to ensure
it can provide enough technical resources to the job.
known the company's quality difficulties with earlier releases of OneWorld
as well as having witnessed the recent staff attrition, the market may,
with a good reason, have serious reservation regarding the company's capabilities
to successfully deliver and support significantly more complicated product
set. Furthermore, its direct sales force, indirect channel and parts of
its operations in Europe, Latin America and Asia will have to undergo
a serious education and training drill.
these are not necessarily insurmountable obstacles, given the fact that
even SAP had to abandon its purist 'one-stop-shop' product strategy. While
JD Edwards' move into the EAI arena is indisputably risky, we commend
its determination to bite the bullet. The sooner the issues are tackled,
the greater probability that they will be resolved. Some of its competitors,
who are still convinced that they can deliver most of the necessary functionality
themselves, may find themselves seriously lagging once they finally realize
the need for interconnectivity and EAI.
name of the game will be to find a perfect balance (critical mass) between
a company's own components and 'borrowed' 3rd-party products. A mitigating
factor is also that J.D. Edwards has made a strong commitment to only
two EAI vendors, Active Software and Netfish. The company will be much
more in control of the arrangements by licensing source code, which is
by far more efficient and reliable than liaisoning with a slew of vendors
that provide similar integration systems.
so, since the source code is typically not licensed perpetually, J.D.
Edwards will have to confirm the agreement with WebMethods (which meanwhile
acquired Active Software) in order to keep abreast of latest source code
releases. And what about current and completed implementations where another
EAI vendor product (e.g., Oberon Software) has been used?
Edwards should also consider having notably different marketing approaches
for the higher end of the market and for its smaller and mid-market fragments,
given the different requirements and mindset of decision makers in these
respective niches. The 'freedom to choose' message will most likely strike
chords with some more aggressive CIOs of larger global companies, who
would be unwilling to get locked into the inflexible, proprietary technology
that Oracle's value proposition seems to inherently offer.
increase in new licenses and reportedly increased J.D. Edwards pipeline
seem to speak in that regard. However, this should be backed up with much
more vigorous marketing and market awareness creation than it has been
done so far. Also, the company should publicly allay any pangs of doubt
the market might still have regarding its product scalability, which have
plagued its endeavors in the higher end of the market in the past.
the other hand, the company will have to provide more out-of-box integration
for the small-to-medium enterprises (SME) market. These CIOs are very
likely to get disconcerted by the prospect of having to deal with a dozen
of disparate interfaced applications and may rather consider a solution
that requires only a couple of critical bolt-on applications. Therefore,
it will be very important that J.D. Edwards at least completes seamless
integration of Siebel and Ariba components with OneWorld suite as a matter
of urgency. Great Plains would be a case point in this regard with the
successful incorporation of Siebel within its eEnterprise product suite.
but not least, to allay recent negative publicity, the company must emanate
a convincing e-commerce message to assure the market and its customers
that it will continue to be viable, regardless of which the target customer
is. It is also needless to say that the execution will have to be flawless
because the leeway for making mistakes has rapidly been shrinking; this
may possibly be the last 'make-or-break' opportunity for J.D. Edwards.
Existing J.D. Edwards' customers should certainly consider the new offering,
but avoid selecting it without looking at what the other vendors have
to offer. We recommend identifying your clear e-business strategy and
conducting a thorough comparison-shopping, at least for the negotiation
for potential customers, we generally recommend including J.D. Edwards
in an enterprise application selection long list for mid-market and low-end
Tier 1 companies (with $100M-$2B in revenue). Organizations whose requirements
fall within the scope of the standard ERP and SCM offering, where manufacturing,
logistics and financial modules are main pillars of an enterprise application,
would benefit from considering J.D. Edwards. One should bear in mind the
company's proven fair treatment of customers as well as its expertise
within some industries like automotive, consumer packaged goods, electronics,
manufacturing & distribution. Nonetheless, if a complementary product
beyond core ERP and SCM (e.g., CRM, e-Commerce, BI, etc.) is of a critical
importance, users should think carefully about the possible EAI implications
and may benefit from considering competitors' value propositions too.
with all new releases, users should employ a critical approach in their
evaluation of OneWorld and require all potential vendors to demonstrate
specific business processes. Though demonstrations do not guarantee a
trouble-free implementation, they can go a long way toward helping users
understand how the software might behave in their environments. Future
clients are also advised to request the company's written commitment to
promised functionality, length of implementation, and seamless future
upgrades, particularly for recently announced partnered offerings.
following are only some of the issues associated with EAI that users should
be aware of: different security systems and keys, package interfaces that
do not provide the information in a preferred format, systems may operate
in different time zones and be geographically dispersed, scalability,
performance, disaster recovery and contingence. Users for whose solutions
J.D. Edwards partnered with other EAI vendors may benefit from informing
themselves what the company plans for future service & support are and
what would the ramifications of switching or not to its above-mentioned
strategic EAI partners be.
technological integration is seldom guaranteed by joint marketing arrangements,
and only comes after the arrangement yields considerable implementation
experience. Therefore, users are advised to ensure that J.D. Edwards is
the main contractor that will assume overall accountability for the project.
Failing to do so may result with customers being caught in a middle of
contractors' recriminations and finger pointing when things start to go
awry. The company's readiness to provide a number of reference sites where
the installation of its partnership-enhanced product has gone without
major glitches would additionally alleviate existing anxieties within