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EXTOL, a leading provider of B2B integration software solutions for midsize companies, announced a UCCnet integration application with support for the new UCCnet Data Synchronization Services, Release 2.2, made public by UCC in July. With the introduction of support for this new UCCnet release, EXTOL customers and partners will be among the first companies in their markets to use the UCCnet DSS release level prescribed by some of the nation's largest hard lines and grocery retailers.
The UCCnet strategy adopted by EXTOL was summarized by EXTOL CEO Anthony Baran "UCCnet is clearly an important compliance initiative, but it's also a moving target for suppliers and retailers. We considered the option of releasing a UCCnet release 2.1-compliant product, in order to gain visibility in the market. But with the introduction of DSS release 2.2 in July, it became evident that this would not serve the best interests of our customers, many of who are hard lines suppliers. This approach lets EXTOL customers achieve compliance faster, and with much less effort, with full support of UCCnet DSS Release 2.2"
Data Synchronization Services Release 2.2
For companies facing compliance mandates from large, influential customers, UCCnet DSS release 2.2 is significant in several important ways:
* Extensible Markup Language (XML) message attributes for hard lines, apparel, and fast moving goods (FMG) are new with this release. These attributes will be used, for example, by Wal-Mart, Lowes, Ace Hardware, and other hard lines retailers when synchronizing trade item data with their suppliers and distributors. This means that UCCnet integration solutions must capture, validate, and transmit extended attributes for companies who trade with retailers in these verticals.More --
* XML schemas will, from this release onward, be used to define standard UCCnet messages. While UCCnet does still support the previous DTD message formats, extended attributes are available only in the XML schema formats. This means that UCCnet integration solutions must send, receive, and validate messages based on the new schemas in order to synchronize extended trade item attributes with hard lines, apparel, and FMCG retailers.
* Intelligent routing of documents between supply- and demand-side partners is introduced with release 2.2. This new feature alters the commands, message content and workflow required for UCCnet synchronization, in order to accommodate changes in the core / non-core attribute boundary and to enable broader support for synchronization of extended attributes. This means that UCCnet integration solutions must implement different UCCnet synchronization commands and orchestration logic than for release 2.1, and that existing UCCnet solutions face significant changes (beyond message content) in order to support extended attributes and other UCCnet features that are not backward-compatible.
Other changes introduced with UCCnet DSS release 2.2, including new tiered distributor/wholesaler processes, support for multi-sourced private label products, and extensions for Canada, Mexico, the UK, and other geographic markets, will exert more focused, and therefore, limited impacts.
EXTOL's Strategy for Supporting UCCnet DSS Release 2.2
EXTOL complies with the new standards introduced with UCCnet DSS release 2.2. EXTOL, implements a complete, platform-independent, "round trip" integration solution, incorporating support for trade item capture from back-end applications, interactive trade item augmentation, maintenance, and management, UCCnet synchronization and workflow support, and secure communications with the UCCnet GLOBALregistry, based on the AS2 EDI-INT standard.
Significantly, EXTOL UCCnet Integrator addresses the critical requirement for integration of customer-unique business processes with UCCnet, through its integration broker foundation, EXTOL's Business Integrator Platform. This enables UCCnet trading partners to extend existing trade item management processes and systems, making them more powerful and effective, rather than implementing UCCnet as an appendage that introduces data conflicts and process redundancies, and consumes additional resources.
Frank Kenney, Research Analyst with Gartner stated, "UCCnet data synchronization is not trivial by any means. Only vendors familiar with the intricacies of data integration and application integration overall, will truly be able to offer their customers and the market, technology that will ultimately scale up to the challenge of synchronizing the large scale needs for product and commercial data between trading partners."
Jim O'Leary, Vice President of Product Management for EXTOL, elaborates "We believe that competitors who have decided to release 2.1-based products are making UCCnet compliance more difficult for their customers, by forcing More -- them to divert time and attention to significant conversion efforts. Implementing UCCnet is not just a matter of sending and receiving trade item data. Customers need to invest time and effort in capturing and preparing the right item attributes, populating item catalogs, defining customers and publications, establishing workflow standards, and integrating UCCnet processes with back-end systems. All of these areas are affected by the UCCnet DSS 2.2 release. At EXTOL, our goal is to simplify integration for our customers by addressing known requirements – like DSS release 2.2 – but also by establishing an architecture that makes it possible to accommodate future changes in industry standards and business processes, without wrenching conversion efforts. That's what we're delivering.
About EXTOL International Inc.
EXTOL is a leading provider of B2B integration application software for the mid sized enterprise. EXTOL enables companies to exchange and integrate transactions and documents, regardless of form or format, between their applications and those of their partners. EXTOL is focused on equipping the enterprise to succeed in the world of e-business.
EXTOL Business Integrator is a B2B integration platform underlying applications for Electronic Commerce. EXTOL is focused on equipping the mid sized enterprise to succeed in the world of e-business with EDI, AS2, XML, UCCnet and the integration required to take full advantage of supply chain functionality.
Unlike the tools, components and traditional technologies available to build EC or B2B capabilities, EXTOL provides a single, comprehensive business integration platform, software solution, featuring automated functions for partner set up and communications, as well as application, business and process integration. For the resource constrained enterprise, EXTOL offers rapid deployment of a comprehensive EC system with a low cost of IT ownership. For more information about EXTOL and its business integration products, go to www.extol.com.