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Contivo Integration Modeling Streamlines Management of HP's Global Operations Supply Chain

  • April 01 2004, 1:00am EST

When it comes to staying ahead of the technology curve, Hewlett-Packard (HP) has always been a pioneer. With this same spirit of innovation, the KeyChain project approached the integration of HP's direct materials procurement system. KeyChain, HP's private trading exchange or e-marketplace for procuring direct manufacturing materials across all business units, was designed to streamline procurement with three goals: decrease the cost of supply, increase assurance that manufacturing material needs are met and create better trading partner relationships.

The strategic intent behind KeyChain is to optimize internal and external systems and to improve process automation in a consistent way across multiple business units. Because the KeyChain initiative centers on connecting business units systematically via the Web, it required normalizing business processes across all of the separate business units. HP's four vertical business units (Imaging and Printing, Personal Systems, Enterprise Solutions, and Services) are responsible for interacting with HP customers. HP Global Operations is responsible for managing processes such as supply chain and product data management across these different business units in a uniform manner.

HP KeyChain's architecture connects back-end legacy and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to a RosettaNet-based marketplace that runs on webMethods middleware and i2 supply chain software. Critical differences in document structure, data format and data labeling required extensive data mapping of any two equivalent documents in different systems.

Traditionally, mapping is a manual task accomplished through the expertise of business analysts. Programmers write code based on a completed analysis of data and structure meaning. Faced with multiple systems and varying interpretations of business documents, HP programmers realized that the creation of maps between all business document representations would be a scalability nightmare.

To address the scalability issue, HP decided to normalize KeyChain data utilizing a canonical approach with RosettaNet as the base format. This involved transforming data from back-end and legacy systems into a common RosettaNet interpretation of the meaning of the data, which could communicate with the i2 format for executing supply chain transactions. While this approach resolved the scalability issue at a conceptual level, implementation still required that KeyChain create the transformation logic between back-end systems and RosettaNet and again between the RosettaNet and the i2 format.

Contivo's technology, which focuses first on the meaning of the data, rather than its structure, was used to support the canonical data architecture. By focusing on the semantics, the components of a business document could be abstracted to a data model, resulting in the ability to design a map without hard-coding the relationships between specific fields. Contivo enabled KeyChain to automatically associate models of corresponding business documents, such as a RosettaNet purchase order and an i2 purchase order, without having to repeatedly discern the meaning of data within each field.

Contivo's solution provided the HP KeyChain project an overall reduction in costs. HP also experienced a reduction of maintenance costs and increased efficiency because Contivo's modeling approach enabled changes to flow from the models through all affected maps, eliminating the need to reanalyze and recode.

One of the most powerful benefits of modeling data in Contivo is the decoupling of the modeling and mapping environment from the execution environment. The modeling and mapping logic and rules are stored outside of messaging middleware tools and can be reused and leveraged when execution environments change, thus eliminating the need for complex migration projects.

Contivo's solution requires planning and management of change (MOC) as this solution represents a paradigm shift in the integration space. Modeling reusable interfaces and automatically generating maps through a centralized solution and approach was significantly different from developers selecting their own tools. Also, training and availability of skilled business analysts was a prerequisite for effectively pushing activities to those with the business and data knowledge.

HP has worked with Contivo over the past two years. Contivo was selected for KeyChain following a successful pilot of Contivo within HP's corporate IT department. Contivo is the only vendor offering a semantic-based approach. In addition to the technology fitting HP's needs, there was an opportunity to work with Contivo in further developing the technology.

Contivo brought to KeyChain prebuilt models of its RosettaNet requirements, while professional service personnel from Contivo created models of the equivalent i2 documents. In the first stage, Contivo helped KeyChain create nine maps between RosettaNet and i2 within three weeks, compared to the usual period, nine weeks.

One of the key benefits of the Contivo solution for HP was the standardization of messaging it brought across all business units. The Contivo Server provided the pre-modeled definitions for the standards, which combined with the tools for modeling legacy, provides all the requisite documentation needed to accelerate the implementation process.

Contivo provides solutions that enable reuse, automation and collaboration for integration, helping enterprises to quickly and dramatically reduce the implementation and maintenance time, costs and complexity of their application integration projects. Contivo's integration meta data modeling tools and repository work with existing integration and middleware technologies, including emerging Web services technologies, to create custom data and document models and generate the runtime code for the specific integration platform.

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