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11/4/2004
02:06 PM
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Intalio Software Aids Business-Process Management

Intalio|APEX helps users design business processes that span multiple enterprise applications.

Building business processes on top of enterprise-resource-planning systems such as SAP's R/3 has always been a painful task, requiring programmers with skills in Java or SAP's own ABAP code.

Last week Intalio Inc., a business-process-management software supplier, started shipping Intalio|APEX 3.0, which lets business analysts and other nonprogrammers design business processes based on SAP applications. Many companies start business-process automation with processes that are dependent on their ERP applications, regardless of who their ERP vendor is.

With Intalio|APEX, processes can be mapped out, connected to various applications through adapters, then implemented with the click of a mouse to cut across both SAP and rival ERP applications such as Siebel Systems Inc.'s customer-relationship-management software. "Many order-to-cash business processes must cross SAP and Siebel CRM," Intalio president Ishmael Ghalimi says.

Intalio|APEX (APEX stands for Application Process Extension) sits on top of SAP's Web Application Server and uses SAP's existing Exchange Infrastructure to achieve connectivity to both SAP and non-SAP applications. Intalio|APEX provides a visual drag-and-drop icon selection and line-drawing modeling environment to build business processes.

The business-process tool has the ability to look up SAP application functions and show them to a business-process developer as a Web service. The tool then lets the developer drag that functionality onto a business-process diagram, where it will be implemented by the underlying system.

For end-user interfaces, Intalio|APEX leverages the capabilities of SAP's NetWeaver Developer Studio development tool. SAP customers frequently add extensions to their applications the hard way, by hard-wiring code into them. With Intalio|APEX, they can use visual design elements to extend R/3 application functions out to other applications and adapt their software infrastructure to changes in the business, Ghalimi says.

SAP customers may also use the business-process-management system as a way to integrate new online mySAP.com modules to existing SAP applications, creating cross-application business processes, Ghalimi says.

Intalio|APEX is priced at $5,000 per developer seat and $125,000 per CPU for business-process deployment purposes.

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