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First Look

Krissi Danielson

JustSystems: Using XML for Better Mashups, SOA and BI

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Listen to the entire 9:53 podcast Download file

    Agenda and Resources

1. What is JustSystems?
     a. Origin of the company
     b. New to U.S. market

2. What is xfy?
     a. Grown from XMetaL
     b. Integrating XML with back-end databases
    c. Appeal across multiple enterprise sectors

3. Case Studies
      a. Nippon Chemi-Con
      b. Excellus, a Blue Cross/ Blue Shield company

4. JustSystems' plans for the future

Read a complete transcript of the podcast here

Read a Product Spotlight on  xfy

Learn more at JustSystems' Web Site

Paul Wlodarczyk will regularly respond to any comments posted below.

What do you do when you have eight different production facilities using eight different ERP systems and you need to process 180,000 transactions a day? One major electronics equipment manufacturer solved the wasteful network imbalance by turning to JustSystems.

JustSystems is quickly gaining recognition for its xfy software that allows businesses to deploy effective enterprise mashups. And although the company is new to the U.S. market, it has actually been around since 1979, when it got its start in Japan.

"We cut our teeth in the word processing market," says Paul Wlodarczyk, VP of Solutions Consulting at JustSystems. "Over time, as word processing and office applications and personal productivity applications could benefit from XML, we shifted our technology base to XML-based technologies."

What is xfy?

If you've heard of XmetaL, a creation by SoftQuad (who also brought us HoTMetaL), then you probably have an inkling of what we're talking about. JustSystems acquired XMetaL in March 2006. JustSystems has moved XMetaL from being a personal productivity package to being a platform for XML-based enterprise applications.

A key strength of xfy has been its ability to integrate with back-end databases, being made of XML. "With that capability, one of the things that became really apparent in xfy's development was that it's a great framework for mashing up content that's made available with XML from multiple sources. So in that sense, it becomes a mash-up framework," explains Wlodarczyk.

With that on top of an enterprise database like Oracle or IBM DB2 9, you get powerful abilities to pull XML from enterprise applications and integrate it with XML content anywhere.

Where XML Solutions Work

Multiple sectors are starting to show interest in these sorts of XML solutions. The pharmaceutical and life sciences industry are a good example, as they frequently face issues with data document convergence and need to meet reporting requirements of the FDA and other agencies. XML standards are also commonly used for machine control, such as BatchML, which is used in the control of quality control devices and process manufacturing. In xfy, companies can read and write languages like BatchML and also create the documents that you need for communication between research and development and manufacturing.

xfy creates applications for business users that can hide the complexity of the underlying document structure, giving users experiences that are as simple as using forms. Because xfy separates formatting of information from the underlying data structure, companies can better allow IT resources to focus on exposing enterprise content through Web services, moving the development of solutions closer to the end user and into the line of business, creating mash-ups with user interfaces that map characteristics like forms, drop-down boxes and charts to data sources made available by IT -- and end users can even tailor that interface to meet their own needs.

Case Studies: Nippon Chemi-Com and Blue Cross Blue Shield

One customer that realized drastic benefits from xfy was Nippon Chemi-Con, which had close to 200,000 orders coming in to eight different ERP systems in its multiple offices each day. Nippon Chemi-Con faced great challenges with inventory and production management that were solved with an XML-based dashboard system that could allow orders to best be mapped to the facility that had the best production and inventory capacity to meet them.

Another customer that they're working with is Excellus, a Blue Cross Blue Shield company in New York that provides health care products. Excellus is working on a project to describe any of its health insurance products using an XML schema, explains Wlodarczyk, so that insurance products for particular groups could be configured based on an employer's needs and put in place with predefined XML definitions of each product.

"Once you've configured the product, all of the language that needs to go in all of the documents with that can be mapped back to that particular configuration," says Wlodarczyk.

With xfy, Excellus hopes to have an end-to-end XML-based approach to defining products and the documents that go with them, building solutions to face different people throughout the process who are responsible for tasks like creating contract language and offering solutions to the call center.

Using a classic example, Wlodarczyk points out that if you get a claim denied, you might be able to look up the issue in your member handbook and show why you believe you are entitled to a particular health benefit -- but the person at the call center might have only a database record on the screen and might not be able to pull up the reference you're looking at. But if all the information sources were pulled together and based on XML, that view could be created. If you call about a dispute regarding a visit to the chiropractor, the call center representative can immediately find which policies relate to the diagnostic code.

"We're able to pull all of this information together from multiple systems and document sources and displayed in an interface that tailored to the needs of the person doing their job, in this case, answering the phone," he says. "Or in other cases, processing the claim at the claims center."

This creates a document-based interface rather than a dashboard-based interface, which might be friendlier to end users who are used to looking things up in books.

What Happens When Documents Change?

So how do client-side document changes reverberate through xfy's solution? Wlodarczyk says a change happens by pushing the change down to the client machine from an enterprise server, but that doesn't always ensure that everyone who is required to view an updated document actually views it. With JustSystems technologies and that of business partners, companies can work on creating the notification and recording process and the audit trail around information delivery that may, at times, be as important as the information itself -- such as with product recalls.

The Future for JustSystems

Wlodarczyk says JustSystems will follow the XML, watching for adoption trends and logical applications upon which to build. One possible area is in complementary technologies to xfy and XMetaL, such as xfy applications for technical publications, and another is in tools for use with XBRL, which may become the standardized approach for submitting content to the SEC in the United States in the very near future.

"We're seeing XML being used not only for data interchange but document interchange, and those are the areas where we think we're going to have the most interest," he says. "Because xfy really brings value to companies that have XML lying around, that they need to visualize or analyze or bring together into work process. And that's where xfy really shines."

To learn more about JustSystems, listen to the full 22:16 podcast.

Executive Summary edited by Krissi Danielsson

Join ebizQ producer Krissi Danielson for interviews with the innovators, movers and shakers behind emerging enterprise software solutions.Have a solution that qualifies? E-mail Krissi at krissi (at)ebizq.net

Krissi Danielson

Krissi Danielsson is a podcast producer with ebizQ and contributor to ebizQ's SaaSWeek site. View more

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