Brunswick Corp., maker of billiard tables, boats, and bowling balls, has produced an open-source code engine to exchange business data over the Internet, and the Securities and Exchange Commission is an early adopter. The SEC will use the engine to feed a system that analyzes stock trades as part of its regulation of insider trading.
Until now, Brunswick has been most famous for items such as its Mercury marine engines, its Boston Whaler boats, and its foosball tables. But four months ago, it took a successful internal integration project, called the Business Integration Engine, and made it an open-source project at the SourceForge.net site.
Hugh Brien, VP of Dunbar Consulting Inc., a firm implementing the integration engine for the SEC, says the commission is building the software into its internal systems for collecting stock-trading data from companies. The regulatory agency will handle 200,000 stock-trading records a week through the integration engine when it's up and running at year's end. Business Integration Engine will be installed on Linux servers, an earlier open-source deployment at the SEC that Dunbar helped implement, Brien says.
The integration engine "was something we needed," Brien says. "Its fundamental power is to receive data from any number of Internet protocols." They include EDI; SMTP, the E-mail protocol; FTP, the Internet's file transfer protocol; and HTTP, the protocol for moving HTML pages. The integration engine transforms the incoming data into an XML document and sends it to a custom-built SEC analysis application, he says.
Business Integration Engine is geared to function as a Web-services engine. If it gains acceptance, it represents a new source of competition for Microsoft's BizTalk Server, which performs similar functions under Windows. The integration engine is written in Java and can run under Windows, Unix, or Linux.
The software represents a leap into an enterprise space not served by open-source code, according to Ned Lilly, an open-source developer and CEO of OpenMFG LLC. "Open-source code works as a server operating system, and it can also serve at the integration level."
The engine became available May 15 from Brunswick's Web Den Interactive unit, a 20-employee consulting arm that installs Business Integration Engine. The integration engine has had about 5,000 downloads from SourceForge and www.brunswickwdi.com sites. Two thousand developers have registered as users, says Michele Lambert, Web Den Interactive's general manager. Brunswick didn't want to become a software company, Lambert says, but it knew it had a good thing in the integration engine.
Another early user is Doctor Solutions Inc., an insurance-claims preprocessor for 75 doctors' offices. The integration engine will be used later this month to transform incoming doctors' records from a variety of formats into a standard format that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act will require by mid-October.
"If three doctors offices send us records, they're all in slightly different format," says Rick Russell, a partner in iDataSys LLC, a consulting firm that's doing the implementation. After the records are restructured, they're submitted to a system that applies a set of rules to ensure the records are ready to be submitted for insurance reimbursement. Russell says that, like the SEC, Doctor Solutions will run the integration engine on Linux servers.