Grand Central adds non-Internet connectivity

Hosted integration services provider Grand Central Communications Inc. on Monday plans to spruce up its Business Services Network with non-Internet connectivity and improvements in Java functionality.

The network is based on a software-as-a-service model, providing for connectivity and management of business processes within and between organizations, using Web services and other integration methods. With the upgrade, Grand Central is dropping the practice of providing a version number for its service.

"We're really trying to emphasize the point that this is not software. It's a different model," said Susan Dwyer, Grand Central vice president of marketing.

To meet requests for non-Internet-based connectivity, Grand Central is adding support for private-line and frame relay connections. "This is significant in that previously, you needed an Internet connection," said Ron Palmeri, Grand Central executive vice president of products and corporate development. "This is a point-to-point direct connection."

Also being added are Java scripting enhancements to enable Java to work with Business Process Execution Language (BPEL), an industry specification for conducting business processes via Web services. "It allows developers that already know Java to write applications or services that work with BPEL," Palmeri said. The linkage between Java and BPEL is enabled via Grand Central's Process Express tool.

Additionally, Grand Central is adding AS/2 (Application Statement 2) certification, to ensure interoperability between XML and EDI communications. The user interface for Business Services Network, meanwhile, has been enhanced for self-service, according to the company.

"Grand Central's upgrade adds functionality and ease-of-use for their customers," said Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst at ZapThink LLC. "Specifically, the support for private-line connections provides their customers greater flexibility and security when using the network. Private lines offer greater security, reliability, and performance than the public Internet, and there will be certain customers who always require this higher level of service.

"The added support for Java, BPEL and AS/2 also offer various customers greater flexibility in how they use the network. In the case of Java and BPEL, customers have even greater control of the business processes that run on the Grand Central network," Bloomberg said.

With the upgrade, Grand Central also has enlisted DataPower Technology Inc., Forum Systems Inc., and Relativity to provide message-level encryption for customers requesting it. Message encryption, in which messages remain private within an enterprise, can be necessary to comply with requirements such as HIPPA for transmitting patient records, Palmeri noted. Customers would go to one of these three companies for encryption services, he said.

Entry-level pricing for Grand Central's Business Services Network is US$25,000 per year.

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