10th Annual Well-Connected Awards: Business Applications

The finalists and winners in this category had to be reasonably painless to implement and enable increased productivity.

May 11, 2004

11 Min Read
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Of course, the one constant from a vendor standpoint is that business applications need to be 99.999 percent hype-compliant. The hype changes annually--this past year the lucky ones have been Web services, XML and SOAP. To give vendors credit where it's due, just about every business application we've tested can say it supports Web services. But behind the curtain, we found that the method and level of support vary greatly from product to product. Some require learning new skills and protocols, like XML, XPath, QNames and XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformation), while others have leapfrogged the pack by introducing seamless Web services support.


Integration Suite

WINNER: Tibco BusinessWorks 5.0. Tibco Software, (800) 420-8450, (650) 846-1000. www.tibco.com

TIBCO'S BUSINESSWORKS EAI SUITE combines integration and business-process management in one neat, standards-based package. BusinessWorks' almost code-less environment and support for a wide range of data sources, including flat files, SMTP, Rendezvous, JMS (Java Messaging Service), Web services and RDBMSs databases, make automating business processes a breeze. Its support for revision-control systems, such as Microsoft Visual SourceSafe, Perforce and PVCS, is a big plus, and its XML-based projects reuse feature adds flexibility never before seen in this market. The icing is Tibco's add-as-you-grow model for purchasing adapters, which means a lower entry cost without sacrificing future extensibility.

FINALISTS: Integration Orchestrator 4.0. Sybase, (800) 8-SYBASE, (925) 236-5000. www.sybase.com

BusinessWare 4.1.1. Vitria Technology, (408) 212-2700. www.vitria.com

CRM SuiteWINNER: Accpac CRM 5.5 (5.6 now available). Accpac International, (800) 945-8007, (925) 461-2625. www.accpac.com

ACCPAC'S FLEXIBLE CRM SUITE is just the ticket for small and midsize businesses in need of an affordable way to manage customer relationships. This completely Web-based product supports customization at the data and user-interface levels and offers a wide range of reporting options, including custom report-generation tools and integration with Crystal Reports, an enterprise standard. Accpac's product has a well-designed work-flow engine that includes both escalation and notification features. The easy-to-navigate system lets end users personalize the look and feel of information in a manner similar to an enterprise portal. Speaking of which, Accpac's self-service portal for customer interaction and its knowledge-management system provide a feature-rich customer-support environment.

FINALISTS: Clientele CRM.Net 8.1. Epicor Software Corp., (800) 883-4582, (949) 585-4000. www.epicor.com

Microsoft Business Solutions CRM 1.0 (1.2 now available). Microsoft Corp., (800) 426-9400, (425) 882-8080. www.microsoft.com

Enterprise PortalWINNER: OracleAS 10g Portal. Oracle Corp., (888) 672-2534, (650) 506-7000. www.oracle.com

ORACLE'S AS 10G ENTERPRISE PORTAL offers a wealth of tools at an affordable price. Listing at $20,000 per CPU (enterprise edition), OracleAS is a powerhouse integrated portal and portlet development environment that can be used with ease by IT and business staff alike. Oracle's inclusion of standards-based portlets supporting JSR-168 and Web services (SOAP) allows for seamless integration of existing enterprise applications, and we liked the lengthy list of partners supplying drop-in portlets for business applications (PeopleSoft, SAP, Siebel) and messaging systems (Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes). OracleAS' Web-based administration and visual layout tools provide an intuitive mechanism for building new portals, while its portlet-provider framework adds enterprise-class scalability for portlet distribution.

FINALISTS: Plumtree Corporate Portal 5.0. Plumtree Software, (800) 810-PLUM, (415) 399-7050. www.plumtree.com

Enterprise Portal 6.0. Sybase, (800) 8-SYBASE, (925) 236-5000. www.sybase.com

Portfolio ManagementWINNER: Changepoint 8.01 (9.0 now available). Changepoint Corp., (800) 263-7189, (905) 886-7000. www.changepoint.com

CHANGEPOINT'S PORTFOLIO-MANAGEMENT product is a highly customizable, flexible and secure system for managing the business of IT. Although a bit pricey, CPM offers integrated time and project management on top of the analysis, reporting and forecasting expected in a portfolio-management product. And Changepoint's client portal is a value-add, letting IT "customers" submit requests, check on project status and take part in a peer performance-review process. Changepoint's dashboard can be personalized, giving users control over the view of relevant information, such as status updates on projects and a list of tasks. Finally, the product's security mechanisms are extremely granular, letting administrators ensure that sensitive data cannot be manipulated--or even seen--by unauthorized users.

FINALISTS: Artemis7 4.5. Artemis International Solutions Corp., (800) 477-6648, (949) 660-7100. www.aisc.com

Portfolio Edge 2.0; Project Office 4.1 (Portfolio Edge 2.1 now available). Pacific Edge Software, (425) 897-8800. www.pacificedge.com

Web Services GatewayWINNER: Forum Sentry 1504 2.0. Forum Systems. (866) 333-0210, (801) 313-4400. www.forumsys.com

FORUM SYSTEMS' FORUM SENTRY 1504--our product of the year in the business applications market--can shield your Web services traffic from XML-based attacks. This snazzy 1U appliance provides dual 10/100-Mbps NICs to support its proxy-based architecture and allows for out-of-band management. Its IOS-like CLI (command-line interface) and the Web-based administrative console make remote administration easy. And, by integrating cryptographic acceleration, Forum Sentry not only supports digital signature and encryption standards, it does so without impacting performance.

FINALISTS: DataPower XS40 XML Security Gateway 2.3. DataPower, (617) 864-0455. www.datapower.com

Reactivity XML Firewall 2300. Reactivity, (866) 889-3485, (650) 551-7800. www.reactivity.com

Identity ManagementWINNER: Novell Nsure Identity Management Suite. Novell, (888) 321-4272, (781) 464-8000. www.novell.com

NOVELL'S NSURE SUITE is a flexible, extensible identity-management and user-provisioning system that includes a nifty platform-agnostic, proxy-based resource access-control component. Novell's canned driver support encompasses a multitude of existing directories, as well as RDBMSs and systems from Siebel, SAP and PeopleSoft. The capability to selectively filter data passed between any two disparate systems is unique and provides fine-grained control over replication or exchange of profile and authentication data. We found the suite easy to manage using its Web-based console, and developers can extend its APIs to integrate custom-developed applications. Novell's work-flow offering is flexible and highly customizable as well, letting users automate business-specific processes for managing the provisioning process.

FINALISTS: eTrust Admin 2.0 and eTrust Web Access Control 1.0. Computer Associates International, (800) 225-5224, (631) 342-6000. www.ca.com

Courion Identity Management Suite 6.0 (6.5 now available). Courion Corp., (866) COURION, (508) 879-8400. www.courion.com

SPAM PreventionWINNER: Barracuda Spam Firewall 300. Barracuda Networks, (888) 268-4772, (408) 342-5400. www.barracudanetworks.com

WANT TO WREST CONTROL OF YOUR messaging system away from spammers? Meet Barracuda Networks' inexpensive, easy to set up, effective and very manageable antispam and antivirus firewall appliance. Did we mention inexpensive? At a price of $0.90 per user per year for 1,000 users to $0.27 per user per year for 10,000 users, including hardware, support and update services, you almost can't afford not to take the plunge. Barracuda uses standard Intel hardware, a hardened Linux kernel and open-source message-management software to help eliminate spam and viruses from your users' inboxes. Management is simple, and users can create their own whitelists and blacklists and submit missed spam to the Bayesian engine.

FINALISTS: MXtreme Mail Firewall 3.1. BorderWare Technologies, (877) 814-7900, (905) 804-1855. www.borderware.com

ModusGate 3.1. Vircom, (514) 845-1666. www.vircom.com

Enterprise Search EngineWINNER: Panoptic Enterprise Search Engine 4.2.0. CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), (877) PANOPTIC, (973) 492-3524 or +61-2-6216-7060. www.panopticsearch.com

IT'S DIFFICULT TO COMPETE GLOBALLY if you can't find your data locally. Toward that end, CSIRO's Panoptic Enterprise Search Engine was this category's winner because of its superior indexing and navigational search engine features. Although both finalists, Kanisa and Mondosoft, built more features into their products, CSIRO's product has the best feature-to-price ratio and was up and running with minimal installation and configuration effort. It also offered the most intuitive administrative interface, and a user interface that was easy to brand to a corporate standard.

FINALISTS: Kanisa Site Search 5.0. Kanisa, (866) 224-5800, (408) 863-5800. www.kanisa.com

MondoSearch 5.1. Mondosoft, (800) 625-1175, (650) 462-2140. www.mondosoft.com

Corporate Instant MessagingWINNER: Lotus Instant Messaging 3.0 (3.1 now available). IBM Lotus, (800) 465-6887, (617) 577-8500. www.lotus.com

INSTANT MESSAGING IS MORE THAN an e-mail alternative. Good IM products offer collaboration features, such as chat rooms, conferences, screen sharing, whiteboards and online polling. Lotus Instant Messaging 3.0 delivers all these features more effectively than any other product we tested. Users can access a calendar of public meetings, "raise a hand" to ask questions without disrupting the conversation and let guests participate in IM meetings. And those meetings can be replayed with all the pauses and fervor of discussion intact. Lotus pulls user names, passwords and groups from an included Domino server or any LDAP-compatible directory, and integrates with AOL Instant Messenger.

FINALISTS: Sun ONE Portal Server: Instant Collaboration Pack 3.0.1 (now available as Sun Java System Instant Messaging 6.1). Sun Microsystems, (800) 555-9SUN, (650) 960-1300. www.sun.com

E/pop Professional 3.0. WiredRed Software, (888) 665-EPOP, (858) 715-0970. www.wiredred.com

Enterprise Groupware ServerWINNER: Lotus Notes and Domino 6.5. IBM Lotus, (800) 465-6887, (617) 577-8500. www.lotus.com

GROUPWARE IS A VITAL PART of doing business, as collaborative workspaces, group calendars and instant messaging become necessities, not luxuries. And IBM's Lotus Domino 6.5 is our top choice in this growing--and increasingly competitive--market because it makes life easier for users and administrators alike. We liked the IM support within the main Notes client, and Domino's robust Web client gives users access to mail, calendaring and to-do lists from most anywhere. Admins can develop custom applications tailored to business needs. This standards-based application development is also multiplatform, so enterprisewide administration can be accomplished from a single console. Domino suite just keeps getting better with each revision.

FINALISTS: Exchange Server 2003. Microsoft Corp., (800) 426-9400, (425) 882-8080. www.microsoft.com

Novell GroupWise 6.5. Novell, (888) 321-4272, (781) 464-8000. www.novell.com

Document ManagementWINNER: Enterprise Information Management System (now available as Hummingbird Enterprise-DM). Hummingbird, (877) FLY-HUMM, (416) 496-2200. www.hummingbird.com

ORGANIZATIONS RESPOND TO CLIENTS, customers and partners by generating miles of documents, and all the finalists in this category go a long way toward creating, storing, securing and serving them up in an orderly manner. Each product works with standard Web browsers and supports work-flow and versioning features. And both Hummingbird's and Tower Software's products integrate with Windows applications like Office and Explorer. But Hummingbird Enterprise stands out with a strong Web-publishing component, exceptional collaboration tools, and the most mature, integrated records-management component to treat documents--even e-mail--as records and retain them for periods required by law.

FINALISTS: Stellent Universal Content Management (UCM) 7.0. Stellent, (800) 989-8774, (952) 903-2000. www.stellent.com

TRIM Context 5.2. Tower Software, (800) 255-9914, (703) 476-4203. www.towersoft.com

LORI MACVITTIE is a NETWORK COMPUTING senior technology editor working in our Green Bay, Wis., labs. She has been a software developer, a network administrator and a member of the technical architecture team for a global transportation and logistics organization. Write to her at [email protected].Forum Sentry 1504 2.0. Forum Systems, (866) 333-0210, (801) 313-4400. www.forumsys.com

Web services, the hype darling du jour, can fall prey to a growing number of XML-based attacks. Enter WS-Security (Web Services Security) gateways that take the capabilities found in Layer 7 firewalls and add the ability to read XML body content sent to SOAP endpoint URLs, which may link to a number of Web services. Although we found room for improvement among the products in this market, the best of the bunch is Forum Systems' Forum Sentry 1504. The Forum Sentry stands alone in offering an intuitive method of building security policies that will let businesses protect themselves even if their administrators aren't experts in XML and XPath. XML and SOAP traffic can be controlled by providing schema validation, authentication, authorization and auditing services at the network's edge. And, by integrating its product with a growing number of identity-management systems, Forum lets organizations use existing investments while protecting new avenues of business.

Business Applications Product of the Year

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