Optum’s ConnectStream: First the Pieces Now the Glue

  • Written By: Steve McVey
  • Published: October 30 2000

Optum’s ConnectStream: First the Pieces Now the Glue
S. McVey - October 30, 2000

Event Summary

Supply chain execution software vendor Optum, Inc. recently announced the release of ConnectStream, which is essentially an enterprise application integration (EAI) platform for connecting its TradeStream collaborative planning software to third-party enterprise packages. ConnectStream, developed in conjunction with webMethods, Inc., a leading vendor of B2B integration products, makes possible the transfer of data between enterprises that is then aggregated by TradeStream. The ultimate objectives of Optum's collaborative applications are to cut inventory levels and improve fulfillment for customer orders.

"Gaining real-time inventory visibility across enterprises has long been a pipe dream of supply chain management," said David J. Simbari, president and CEO at Optum. "With TradeStream, we have delivered on that elusive promise and created a dramatically better way to manage customer fulfillment over the Internet. Available now, TradeStream enables companies to tear down the walls of their extended enterprise and view and control inventory - regardless of where it is in the supply chain and which systems hold the information. We're attacking the $1.4 trillion U.S. companies currently have tied up in inventory, 40 percent of which will be wasted because of product obsolescence brought on by outdated and inefficient fulfillment practices."

Market Impact

At the time TradeStream was announced in July 2000, it was unclear just how users would build the link between it and their partner's enterprise software (see Optum Unveils TradeStream for Collaborative Fulfillment). Now it appears that ConnectStream will fill the gap. Development alliances between vendors are common, but it seems strange that the one component that makes collaboration feasible in TradeStream came along three months after the rest of the product. We speculate that Optum was pressured by competition into releasing TradeStream before completing the integration component, then decided to scrap internal development and switch to a third-party integration solution. No one is denying that collaboration was possible with TradeStream, but achieving efficient integration among disparate systems with a minimum of hassle requires the use of a world-class EAI product, such as that developed by webMethods. The webMethods contribution to ConnectStream seems similar to Extricity's role in Manugistics' WebConnect application, which links applications and digital marketplaces across enterprise boundaries using API's, XML, and messaging technology.

User Recommendations

ConnectStream should make users' lives easier by providing a full-featured EAI tool to handle the intricacies of building collaborative networks. Often integration tools developed natively by ERP and supply chain software vendors lack richness and maturity since they do not represent the vendors' primary business. Users should be aware that support and upgrades of ConnectStream will rely to some extent on webMethods and they should assure themselves that Optum will continue to maintain a strong relationship with its EAI partner.

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