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Rearden Commerce launches SOA-based procurement platform

Rearden Commerce has unveiled a new Web services and SOA-based eProcurement stack, which aims to improve how companies procure services over the Web.

Rearden Commerce has spent the last five years waging a cold war in the services procurement space. It has emerged from hibernation and aims to redefine how companies procure services over the Web.

The company, formerly known as Talaris, today unveiled the Rearden Commerce Technology Stack, a Web services-based, online services procurement platform.

Part of our kernel is services business language -- the XML documents that semantically describe the services and all of the ontologies. It's Web services and SOA throughout.
Patrick Grady
CEORearden Commerce

Built from the ground up using a service-oriented architecture (SOA), the platform allows for disparate applications to interoperate asynchronously on behalf of corporations, their employees and suppliers. The Employee Business Services (EBS) application leverages the platform to provide employees with a single Web-based interface to book travel, ship packages, conduct Web conferencing and leverage a slew of other horizontal services.

The platform is comprised of three major components: the Services Assistant, which provides the user interface; the Services Console, which managers and IT staff use to manage suppliers and enforce business policy; and the Services Grid, which provides the integration platform for suppliers to "plug-in" to.

The workflow layer renders all the disparate applications as services, said Patrick Grady, CEO of San Mateo, Calif.-based Rearden. "These horizontal services can be invoked directly to rapidly build new applications, or invoked by third-party developers, through a software development kit, to create new business process outsourcing applications. Part of our kernel is services business language --the XML documents that semantically describe the services and all of the ontologies. It's Web services and SOA throughout."

At the moment, Rearden isn't focusing on using the platform for anything outside of highly horizontal services, according to Grady. Although he admitted that there is everything in the stack to do more vertically focused, business-to-business style integration, such as outsourced manufacturing or call center services.

Hewlett-Packard Co. is currently working on Rearden's SOA stack to use it for business process outsourcing services, Grady said.

Identity management

The Liberty Alliance recently announced ID-WSF 2.0 (Web services framework) with support for SAML 2.0. ID-WSF defines an architecture for federated identity management across Web services-based applications. However, Rearden Commerce, which is leveraging Lightweight Directory Access Protocol and other private directories, hasn't run into anybody that's Liberty-based yet, according to Grady.

"Everyone talks about Liberty, but nobody has adopted Liberty inside the firewall. Increasingly, we're seeing the adoption of directories, but to be honest, there's more shelfware out there than anything else. But we have to remain above the fray and not come out with our own proprietary implementation. We do, however, support federated identity," Grady said.

Open sourcing Rearden

The Rearden Commerce platform may see exponential growth in its network of buyers and sellers, in the event that the company decides to open source the stack. Additionally, an open source Rearden platform would serve the developer community by providing an SOA reference architecture that could serve as a model for best practices.

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"One of the pieces of our strategic road map is to work with IT infrastructure companies, to leverage their developer community to invoke our platform and to create new applications. Over time, I would love to open up the plumbing layers of our stack, to be able to rapidly add more suppliers and more developers," Grady said.

The EBS console, which is for chief information officers and procurement teams, carries a $1 million list price for a one-year subscription for enterprises and $200,000 for midmarket customers, according to Grady.

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