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OSI Software's new portal speaks Web services

OSI Software's new PI ICE portal software includes support for Web services, allowing manufacturing and utility companies to present real-time data from multiple applications to decision makers, suppliers and business partners.

OSI Software Inc. says that ignoring Web services is like ignoring writing on the wall, and that's why the company's debut portal product, PI Interactive Configurable Environment (ICE), is able to gather and present information using Web services.

Officially released last week, PI ICE is designed for manufacturing and utility companies seeking to provide real-time data, relational data and process information to decision makers, suppliers and business partners across a corporate intranet.

Without utilizing Web services, customers can use PI ICE to collect factory-floor or process information from the infrastructure applications, such as its historical database, calculation engine and graphical visualization offerings, in what OSI Software calls its PI System.

However, Gregg Le Blanc, OSI Software's group leader for project management, said that by adding support for Web services protocols like XML and SOAP, customers can build API extensions into PI ICE that interface with any third-party database or application.

"Right now, customers have to do some development work on the [third-party] system if it isn't Web services-enabled, but now they can do some broader design concepts to extract their data," Le Blanc said. "They can start adding more and more data into their [portal] environment."

One of PI ICE's primary functions is to display trending data and mixed-format reports. Le Blanc said that individual users have the option to customize a "dashboard" to his or her own tastes, so different types of users can focus on the data of greatest importance to them.

Users can configure how data is displayed with no Web programming and can also add other types of maintenance, pricing and financial information to the same portal in a process akin to creating a Web page.

PI ICE is available from San Leandro, Calif.-based OSI Software as a part of several different PI System application bundles. Those bundles typically cost between $5,000 and $50,000, depending on the applications involved and the number of users.


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