Swiss vendor E2E pushes model-driven integration

Company releases version 4 of its Bridge tool for UML diagrams

Swiss vendor E2E on Monday launched the 4.0 version of its E2E Bridge tool, designed to speed up application integration projects by directly executing unified modeling language (UML) diagrams.

Developers map out the integrations through UML, and the models are subsequently interpreted and executed by a UML virtual machine, according to E2E. While UML tools that generate code such as C# and Java are widely used, developers must subsequently do additional work to complete and maintain an implementation, E2E officials said.

The E2E Bridge 4.0 release involves a number of product configurations, including Bridge 4 Process, a "process execution platform" that can execute UML models as well as those based on business process modeling notation (BPMN) and event-driven process chain (EPC) diagrams.

"It's great news for all those business analysts working in a corner being ignored by IT, because it turns their ideas into something that can work in production," said Chris Henn, vice president of business development for E2E.

Analyst Tony Baer of onStrategies, who has studied earlier versions of E2E's product, said companies like SAP are pursuing similar goals.

However, he said, "I have not done an apple-to-apple comparison to tell you of the fidelity of the applications that are generated [from the E2E models]."

E2E is also partnering with the large business process management (BPM) vendor IDS Scheer. The companies have released ARIS Bridge, which combines their respective tools.

E2E customer Intrum Justitia, a debt collections firm based in Germany, used ARIS Bridge to update its core application, a "homemade ERP" called ReCash.

Daniel Seiler, finance director of Intrum Justitia, said in an interview that the firm was initially skeptical of E2E's claims but were won over following a proof-of-concept experiment.

Seiler also said the company's in-house development team was "a little apprehensive" at first.

"While we were going along with the project they shifted their mindset toward that of a business analyst. They loved the technology. That's the feedback I'm getting from them now," he said.

"This is not just going to be used in ReCash," he added. "It's in our IT strategy, and it's a technology we're going to use in the future."

The question is whether more companies will follow Intrum Justitia's lead.

Gartner analyst Massimo Pezzini wrote about the vendor in a March report, "Cool Vendors in Integration and Platforms." Pezzini's research note praised E2E's technology, but questioned whether the product's methodology will be widely accepted stateside.

"U.S. developers usually approach development opportunistically, rather than systematically -- they eschew the use of models," the report said. "Many managers hold modeling in disdain, having experienced 'paralysis of analysis projects' that failed because too much time was spent upfront developing detailed specification models," it said.

Pricing for an E2E Bridge license starts around $100,000 and goes up depending on a project's complexity, according to a company spokesman.

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