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Grand Central Enlists 14 Partners To Provide Online Services

The software-as-a-service market is expected to grow to $9.1 billion by 2008.

Grand Central Communications Inc. has expanded the online services available through its integration hub, Business Services Network, by adding 14 partners, including accounting and customer-relationship-management application supplier NetSuite Inc. and business-process-automation vendor NSite Inc.

By following Internet standards, two businesses that want to link to each other may mesh systems through the integration hub, or a manufacturer may integrate its supply-chain system through the hub. Grand Central already makes a list of services available, such as reliable messaging, portal capabilities, identity management, and security. But the list got longer last week as 14 partners joined the hub.

"Traditional software applications are laden with risk and high costs and don't deliver the promised business value," says Archie Black, CEO of SPS Commerce, a supplier of EDI capabilities over the Internet and one of the new partners. Going through an online integration hub reduces up-front costs of trying to implement the same software in-house, he says.

IDC analysts estimate that the online software-as-a-service market pioneered by Inc. and NetSuite will reach $9.1 billion by 2008, but its growth has been slow since the dot-com meltdown in 2000-01. Grand Central's formation of an online-services "alliance," in the words of CEO Halsey Minor, helps the company provide "a rich ecosystem of on-demand services."

In addition to NetSuite and NSite, Grand Central's partners include ServiceObjects, a customer-data-validation service; Demandware's E-commerce system;, an online system for managing job applicants and the application process; SPS Commerce, an EDI hosting service; StrikeIron, which provides tools to simplify publishing, finding, and utilizing Web services; and Xignite, a supplier of online financial services components.

Additional partners are: Moreover Technologies, a supplier of online news service systems; Advanous, a division of EnterBridge Technologies, supplier of an online distribution-management system; ExpediteBiz, an automated shipping-service supplier; OpenAir, an automated professional-services-management system; Intellibank, an online relationship-management system; and Advanced Data Exchange, an online EDI document-exchange service.

Grand Central customers include financial services firm Wachovia, Eastman Chemical, Salesforce, and, a supplier of real-time data for CRM systems.

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