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Software // Enterprise Applications

Manhattan Associates Moves To SOA Platform

Earlier this week at its Momentum user conference, Manhattan Associates unveiled Web-based supply-chain applications based on what it calls the Logistics Event Management Architecture platform. The platform is built on J2EE, C++, and Microsoft .Net.

Manhattan Associates Inc. has become the latest supply-chain-software vendor to move its offerings to a service-oriented architecture as a means to provide customers with easier, more flexible access to their information.

Earlier this week at its Momentum user conference, Manhattan Associates unveiled Web-based supply-chain applications based on what it calls the Logistics Event Management Architecture platform. The platform is built on J2EE, C++, and Microsoft .Net. "Our technology road map is based on [a] services-orientated architecture that allows our applications to be built on an open platform to integrate across ERP and other solutions," says Peter Sinisgalli, president and CEO of Manhattan Associates. "The world will move to open source, open systems with services-orientated architectures that help companies lower the cost for technology and accelerate business success."

The company spent a little less than $30 million in research and development, or about 14% of revenue in 2004, in part to develop the platform. Manhattan Associates expects its investment in its services-oriented architecture this year to rise slightly, but remain a similar percentage of revenue.

Midsize enterprise-resource-planning vendors such as Manhattan Associates are using services-oriented architectures to modernize their offerings--a move started two years ago by large ERP vendors. SAP touts its Web-services-based architecture, NetWeaver, as a business-process platform on which companies can build and connect various enterprise applications.

The move is driven by customer needs, supply-chain software vendors say. Businesses depend on software to collaborate and perform supply-chain functions with their suppliers and customers, and a services-oriented architecture simplifies those processes for business partners by eliminating problems created when different or proprietary technologies are used.

Lawson Software Inc. last week revealed a domain-specific language, called Landmark, based on a services-oriented architecture that generates application-specific Java code. In November, Sterling Commerce introduced a Multi-Enterprise Services Architecture based on a services-oriented architecture to support a collaboration service for companies transacting business with multiple suppliers or trading partners. In April, Sterling released Gentran Integration Suite 4.0, the next generation of its business-to-business software based on the new architecture.

Wachovia Bank, which uses Sterling's file-transfer-management products--Connect Enterprise and Connect Direct--to process roughly 12,000 file transfers daily, is reviewing a move to the vendor's services-orientated architecture platform. It could help to manage and more closely monitor the secure transfer of files, from receiving files to processing them to acknowledging receipt. "Moving to a service-orientated architecture would replace our batch-driven process and allow us to provide the status of the work over the Internet," says Tom McLaughlin, VP and manager of data transmission services at Wachovia Bank. Batch-driven processes are used for about 300 business applications, he says.

Manhattan Associates' Logistics Event Management Architecture platform is being created in modules. They're being developed and delivered in a common data model and offer single-sign-on functions across applications and an event-driven transaction processing environment that can effectively manage supply-chain and logistics operations, says the vendor. Applications already transitioned to Logistics Event Management Architecture platform include Transportation Planning and Execution, Transportation Procurement, Trading Partner Management for Open Systems, Fleet Management, Distributed Order Management, and Load Management.

But Manhattan Associates still has work to do. Forthcoming features in the Logistics Event Management Architecture platform include an integrated security module with single-sign-on capabilities, exception management, and alerting capabilities.

Radio-frequency identification technology is a core capability in the Logistics Event Management Architecture platform. It's being designed to integrate easily with other supply-chain applications to read and filter the mounds of data RFID warehouse systems can generate. "As the software industry moves to service-orientated architecture, users need a number of elements built into the application to take advantage of a business process platform over the Web," says Jeff Woods, VP of enterprise and supply-chain systems at research firm Gartner. "There are some missing elements; certain features in the portals and business processes are not as detailed and don't go as deep into the application as they should, for example. But they will eventually."

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