"SUGAR LAND, TX -- NEON Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: NESY), a leading provider of
Enterprise Access and Integration software products, today announced it has
signed an agreement for the development and worldwide distribution rights to
Sterling Software, Inc.'s (NYSE: SSW) SOLVE:Diplomat product. Terms of the agreement
included a $3.5 million payment by NEON Systems. NEON Systems has the option
to acquire full ownership of the intellectual property rights associated with
the product for an additional payment. Historically, Diplomat was utilized to
integrate disparate Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Call Center systems.
NEON Systems intends to increase the scope of the Diplomat product, which will
evolve it into a single, unified EAI product line encompassing major computing
platforms and applications. This key expansion of the NEON Systems product family
will provide a comprehensive EAI solution. In addition to the distribution rights,
NEON has been granted a source code license and has hired the Cary, North Carolina-based
software development lab dedicated to the Diplomat product.
"Diplomat was first deployed at a customer site in 1993. The technology has
developed into a proven and established product that is highly complementary
to our System/390 Enterprise Access and Integration products. The extensible
software base, along with the key development talent, will allow NEON Systems
to extend mission critical access and integration solutions to UNIX and Windows
platforms to support front-office CRM, ERP, Call Center, and other high-value
EAI initiatives," said Joe Backer, president and CEO, NEON Systems. "We plan
to provide excellent support for existing Diplomat customers and continue, without
interruption, the ongoing sale of the product. In the future, we will extend
the product with intelligent adapters for a variety of applications. Our superior
support of the System/390 platform will make NEON Systems EAI products the clear
choice for customers who are looking for true enterprise-class business integration."
offers bi-directional sharing of customer information across multiple systems
with different interfaces, databases, and data models, creating synergy among
dissimilar environments. By providing legacy, client/server, and enterprise
management platform integration, without the cost of replacing existing applications
or re-training personnel, Diplomat enhances communication between different
business units to deliver better service to the customer."
The market for EAI products is getting very hot, with vendors such as Active
Software, BEA Systems, CrossWorlds Software, Extricity, IBM, NEON (New Era of
Networks), Oberon Software, Tempest Software, Tibco, and Tempest Software vying
for market share. Given that this market is still nascent, customers will have
a difficult time separating the wheat from the chaff, and the full impact of
this announcement will not be known for some time. We believe that EAI will
have a strong influence on Information Technology in the next two to three years,
but the technology will need to mature before it's full impact can be known.
NEON's proven expertise in Extract/Transform/Load tools (specifically gateways)
should make their transition to an EAI vendor much easier. However, NEON's lack
of proven expertise in message oriented middleware (necessary to allow applications
to communicate with each other and far more complicated than data movement)
and business process modeling will be a challenge for them. These types of integration
strategies are integral to EAI.
Customers evaluating Enterprise Application Integration products should be very
careful in determining the vendor's actual expertise in this area. They must
be mindful of the fact that there is no pure "out of box" solution. Consulting
and programming assistance will be necessary to truly integrate the various
data sources, and the vendor should be questioned about the experience of their
consulting staff, unless the customer is choosing to do the integration themselves.
Until the market and products are more mature, potential customers should be
very careful about committing to a solution. In addition, until NEON has fully
absorbed the code base for the SOLVE:Diplomat product and trained their consulting
force, caution is recommended.