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5 billion-plus manufacturing giant center around generating better information and ensuring better processes.
and chances are better than one in three that the can you’re holding was produced by Alcan. Inc. Web Services and other standard interface solution. specialty packaging products who serves as Alcan’s director of Global Applications and THE CHALLENGE: To devise a low-cost. This relentless drive towards innovation and efficiency also typifies Alcan’s Information Technology (IT) department. SNAPSHOT “We have four key goals: to meet customer expectaORGANIZATION: Alcan. and fabricated products.. sharing and exchange. advanced technologies and a customer-focused culture.” P mechanisms to link users to information THE RESULTS: Sixteen million dollars in annual savings INFORMATION BUILDERS SOLUTION: iWay Software. pharmaceutical and personal-care industries worldwide. Whether it’s contributing to the design of a more fuel-efficient automobile. primary metals. op open a soda or a can of beer.BY DAVID BAUM PHOTOGRAPHS BY KEITH BERRY i W a y ACCELERATING BUSINESS INTEGRATION Connecting the Enterprise IWAY INTEGRATES MULTINATIONAL BUSINESS OPERATIONS FOR ALCAN. We are budgeted to deliver $16 million worth of around Alcan’s core information systems so developers annual savings. Alcan has proven itself to be a market leader. innovative products. engineering a sophisticated industrial component or devising a clever packaging concept for food products. develop a low-cost development strategy. INC. iWay tools are an important part of that can use XML. a world-leader in the protions. eliminate duction of primary aluminum. With annual revenues FA L L 2 0 0 3 39 . and position Alcan for the future. fabricated aluminum and specialty packaging—including aluminum sheet metal for beverage cans—Alcan has significant interests in raw materials. as well as flexible and specialty packaging for the food. Inc. all-purpose E-Commerce. Consulting The Road to EAI Alcan succeeds through a remarkable combination of talented people. fabricated aluminum and waste. where employees such as Bo Foster are setting new standards for information delivery. As a world leader in the production of primary aluminum. “Integration technology from iWay integration strategy to streamline multiple e-business Software plays an important role in creating better edevelopment objectives business processes and delivering timely information to THE STRATEGY: Wraps a ring of common services our users.” explains Foster.
the manufacturing giant employs 53. logistics. For a company with mature information systems supporting manufacturing. particularly with the consultants on-board to assist us. functionality. On the buy side. and ERP applications. Selecting the Right Software Successful e-business integration involves tying unique front-end applications designed for Web-based self-service into multiple back-end databases. We can use XML. we are delivering $12 million in annual savings … iWay lets us broker transactions among legacy manufacturing. Foster’s team is “closing the e-commerce capability gap” by building self-service applications for employees.” Putting iWay to Work Alcan purchased the iWay software along with two weeks of iWay professional services. and load-tendering solutions to dramatically simplify the architecture. Inc. developers can build Integration Hubs composed of all the information sources that need to be accessed to service a business application or business transaction. Alcan conducted a balanced scorecard evaluation. Alcan was drawn to iWay for its comprehensive. It’s all part of a comprehensive e-business strategy designed to increase trading partner intimacy while streamlining collaborative commerce and logistics. data from mul- Figure 1: Procurement Program iWay serves as the pivotal integration point for the Alcan e-Marketplace.” By using iWay’s integration framework. portal integration. “Realizing our e-business objectives requires an integration strategy that wraps a set of common services around our diverse core systems—and delivers cost-effective Web Services as well. and even then we were never 100 percent satisfied with their results. 40 I N F O R M AT I O N B U I L D ER S M A G A Z I NE . service-oriented architecture and overall ease of use. transactions systems. which revealed iWay as the best fit for its application-integration needs. Figure 2: Logistics Projects iWay works with Microsoft BizTalk Server to underpin a global logistics system. customers. human resources. then went on to define and implement a service-oriented architecture that pertains to many of our business requirements. Web Services and other standard interface mechanisms to link users to information. with online links to the company’s freight database and electronic catalogs. it entails enhanced business processes for online ordering.000 IT investment. and vendors. iWay allows us to put a ring of common services around our core information systems. “The key challenge is diversity. Alcan. Foster says his primary business and IT tasks center around generating better information and ensuring better processes. Alcan compared iWay against several other applicationintegration solutions. “They helped us install the software. this includes lowering the cost of procurement. financial.” Foster recalls. with an eye toward cost.5 billion. Director of Global Applications and E-Commerce.” Foster notes.” “For a $600. “The learning curve was fairly short.” he says. and logistics operations around the globe. supply chain. “Some of the other vendors struggled to demonstrate similar capabilities in days. meeting IT goals often comes down to a simple premise: staying connected. and an easy fit with their existing technology infrastructure.ALCAN CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE exceeding $12.” – Bo Foster. “Self-service is our mantra. and access to self-service applications. with an emphasis on business intelligence to boost productivity. To meet these objectives.000 people and has operating facilities in 41 countries. For example. “One of the things that we were most impressed with was iWay’s ability to execute a proof of concept in literally just a few hours. by plugging in the appropriate iWay adapters and connectors. On the sell side.” Foster explains. financial. Then.
“No programming knowledge is necessary to generate services that reuse functionality from ERP or CRM systems.” Foster explains. and diverse data sources. “We accomplished this by using iWay as part of an EAI hub based on Microsoft BizTalk Server. payroll and HR systems. and unique business applications with users throughout the organization.” (See Figure 1. For example. “iWay simplifies the interchange of information and transactions that originate in half a dozen legacy systems. enabling the reuse of enterprise IT assets across multiple business sysMoving to Web Services Looking ahead.” Foster states. as shown in Figure 3. “iWay fits in very closely with our Microsoft . logistics. “For example. “iWay’s use of Web Services as a way to integrate applications is unique. Foster sees iWay as a fundamental component of Alcan’s Web Services strategy.” tiple sources can be accessed and retrieved without having to hardwire all the separate interactions between the data sources and the applications.NET architecture. We have also enabled partners. “Our corporate group in Montreal uses an IBM solution. “Our Web Services strategy creates common serviceability for many different applications. particularly in the case of our large-scale systems. and several other point solutions and integrate it with our eMarketplace.” Foster adds.” Alcan’s emerging portal architecture uses this Web Services infrastructure to connect a Lotus Notes backbone. “We needed a loosely-coupled infrastructure to deliver information to manufacturers and transportation firms about loads and shipments. information from data warehouses.tems. “iWay fits very well with our Web Services integration initiatives. “iWay has enabled us to obtain significant value by addressing business problems that we thought would be too expensive to tackle. “It has allowed us to address some business problems that we didn’t think were economically feasible. iWay provides a consistent and reliable integration platform. employees and customers to leverage information that they could not easily access in the past. “Some of our business units use Microsoft solutions. and it simplifies the integration and transformation of data from mainframe systems. w w w.” says Foster. system-to-system interfaces to check pension balances and predict future earnings within the retirement portal. legacy applications.” For these and other e-business initiatives. we are moving toward booking orders online using Microsoft Commerce Server and the Microsoft SharePoint portal server. “As part of our procurement program.” Built-in connectors and adapters make the entire integration process a turnkey operation. i n f o r m a t i o n b u i l d e r s .” he continues. Alcan employees depend on iWay’s standard. VAX midrange systems. while our European offices use SAP solutions. By creating Web Services around each of these IT environments.) Alcan went on to apply the same integration logic to its logistics. as shown in Figure 2. we had to pull information from legacy purchasing and maintenance systems. Developers can use the iWay graphical workbench to automatically generate iWay Business Services—Web Services that incorporate data or functionality from existing systems. iWay quickly demonstrated superior alignment with Alcan’s overall EAI strategy.” says Foster. order entry and proFA L L 2 0 0 3 Figure 3: Emerging Portal Architecture iWay works with common industry standards to enable a new architecture for Web Services. iWay will enable a Web Services engine for Sales & Marketing functions as well as the integration software that helps connect the AccessAlcan Web site to backoffice systems for finance. developers throughout our organization can mix and match information and present it in the correct cultural format for each group. An employee in Sao Paulo doesn’t necessarily want to see information in the same way as a user in Cleveland. “We have created data warehouses using iWay tools. Being able to start small gave us lots of opportunities.” Ultimately.” says Foster. iWay helps by simplifying the connections to numerous back-end systems. third-party content.” says Foster. iWay also works hand in hand with Microsoft BizTalk Server to underpin a global logistics system. c o m / m a g a z i n e 41 . Oracle Financials. and other legacy assets.
org/cefact) – The United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business facilitates global business processes through its international EDI standard and other protocols. financial. a consortium of manufacturing companies in Ohio.omg.” Foster explains.org) – This standards body oversees electronic data exchange standards based on X12 EDI. -By Ralph Stout and Moshe Silverstein For further details.org) – eBusinessReady provides an industry-neutral testing program to evaluate eBusiness software in supply-chain and distribution channels.” These exceptional achievements were recognized by CAMP. OASIS (www. visit iWay’s online standards center at www. XML. UDDI (www. (www. That’s changing now thanks to economically viable. and track invoices online.org is a Web portal for technical XML information.” David Baum is a freelance business and technology writer residing in Santa Barbara.ebusinessready.swift.” Foster sums up. confirm deliveries. SWIFT (www.openapplications.wedi. “For a $600. IETF (www.org) – Universal Description.” Counting the Savings Alcan has made significant headway toward achieving its overall e-business vision.org) – The Electronic Business Extensible Markup Language (ebXML) is an XML vernacular sponsored by UN/CEFACT and OASIS.000 came in at $15.XML. “The iWay Web Service Engine is an important part of this middleware framework. Calif. an international consortium.ws-i.com) – The Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development facilitates standards for insurance and related financial services industries.AIAG.” Foster says. is the main force behind XML specifications.000 to develop.000 IT investment. 42 I N F O R M AT I O N B U I L D ER S . and is the gateway to other value-added services. ebXML (http://www. Inc.com.org) – The Object Management Group produces specifications for interoperable enterprise applications. is a widely accepted supply-chain standard for passing data in and out of applications in an XML format.jcp.com/ products/standards.uddi.org) – The Internet Engineering Task Force is an international community of technologists guiding the Internet’s evolution. XML. and load tendering solutions to dramatically simplify the architecture.ORG (www. from the Open Applications Group.org) – Created by OASIS. invoices. Its flagship specifications are the multi-platform Model Driven Architecture (MDA) and the CORBA middleware platform.iwaysoftware.html – or contact iWay's Chief Scientist Ralph Stout at Ralph_Stout@iwaysoftware. According to Foster.acord. M A G A Z I NE ALCAN CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE curement.com) – DGI conducts interoperability and conformance testing for standards in a variety of vertical industries. OAGIS (www. one e-commerce site that combines user-managed content with an AS/400-based ERP system was expected to cost $500.org) – The Data Interchange Standards Association focuses on the development of cross-industry electronic business interchange standards. OMG (www. managing. and programming languages.iWay Supports 20 E-Business Initiatives EAI Opportunities of the Highest Standard Integration standards have always held out great promise.oasis-open. and UN/EDIFACT formats.unece.hl7. when they awarded Alcan with their prestigious eVolution in Manufacturing Award. eBusinessReady (www.uccnet. XML.x12.org) – The Automotive Industry Action Group is a global organization founded by carmakers for improving business processes with trading partners throughout the automotive supply chain. including: ACORD (www. Discovery and Integration (UDDI) is a protocol for companies and applications to quickly and dynamically find Web services over the Internet. thanks to the reusable iWay infrastructure. And a customer portal that uses SAP data was created for just $50.DISA.000. we are delivering $12 million in annual savings. WS-I (www. WEDISNIP (www.org) – The Web Services Interoperability Organization promotes Web Services interoperability across platforms. ASC X12 (www. An employee benefits site that was quoted at $180. thanks in part to the iWay infrastructure. It was delivered for only $160. But by far the biggest savings have resulted from using iWay in the context of a massive freight initiative connecting business units across North America.org) – The Organization for Structured Information Standards.. applications. JCP (http://www. HL7 (www.org) – The Open Applications Group Interface Specification (OAGIS). and integrating healthcare data. DISA (www. but until recently standardsbased enterprise computing presented formidable economic barriers.org) – Workgroup Electronic Data Interchange/Strategic National Implementation Process is a key coordinator of implementation of the healthcare industry’s HIPAA standards.org) – The Uniform Code Council’s UCCnet item-identification standard facilitates collaborative relationships through electronic trading within the manufacturing supply-chain.ietf.org) – Health Level Seven(7) produces standards for exchanging. much less than expected.org) – The Java Community Process is an organization of international Java developers and licensees that develop and revise Java technology specifications. and the savings have been dramatic. Drummond Group Inc.000. For example. pricing information and account balances—as well as to view the status of pertinent manufacturing operations. supply-chain partners use the AccessAlcan report center via extranet connections to check the status of outstanding shipments.000— once again. UCCnet (www. Its modular suite of specifications enables enterprises anywhere in the world to conduct business over the Internet. Shipping and logistics companies depend on the Alcan Logistics Portal to review load summaries. UN/CEFACT (www.ebxml. logistics. Internetbased e-Business standards. “iWay allows us to broker transactions among legacy manufacturing. SNIP represents the process of collaboratively developing and implementing industry-wide healthcare standards. “I believe that any company can benefit from the integration strategies that iWay makes a reality. “AccessAlcan supplies customer access to the ERP system. “Our goal is to meet customer expectations and devise a low-cost integration strategy.drummondgroup.com) – The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) provides secure messaging services and interface software for financial institutions throughout the world. AIAG (www. iWay Software currently supports 20 of these key eBusiness initiatives.
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