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What's in store? Progress buys eXcelon

Sonic Software received an early holiday present from its parent company, Progress Software Corp. Progress' $24 million acquisition of eXcelon Corp., announced in October, is intended to strengthen Sonic's play in the high-end enterprise integration market. The integration of eXcelon's XML technology and products with the SonicXQ Enterprise Service Bus (ESB), which delivers standards-based integration through Web services and JCA, ''will give us better ammunition at the high end'' to compete with the likes of webMethods and Tibco, said Gordon Van Huizen, vice president of product management at Sonic.

''Sonic's strategy was to enter the integration space, which we did earlier with the XQ product,'' he added, ''which was a distributed integration platform that intentionally didn't tackle high-end integration challenges,'' such as business process management and partner integration.

The addition of eXcelon's eXtensible Information Server (XIS), Stylus Studio integrated development environment and Business Process Manager (BPM) for managing dynamic ebXML processes, will give Sonic that high-end capability, Van Huizen said.

Sonic ''represents the growth strategy for Progress' portfolio,'' said Van Huizen, which also includes NuSphere Corp. and PeerDirect Co. ''Sonic has been funded by Progress since '98, entered the messaging market in '99 [with SonicMQ], and we've done well in revenue growth in a down market,'' said Van Huizen. An acquisition like eXcelon is attractive to Progress because ''it can benefit Sonic and shorten our time to market.''

eXcelon's other product line of object database technology, which includes the ObjectStore OODB and Javelin for high-performance Java caching, will be folded into Progress Software, said Van Huizen. Progress, founded in 1981, has its roots in 4GL; eXcelon's OODB comes from its predecessor firm, Object Design (ODI). ''There's a strong synergy in the cultures of the two companies,'' said Van Huizen. ''Progress and ODI have known each other for long time.'' Sonic will add ''the lion's share'' of the eXcelon staff working on the XML products, while Progress will add personnel from the ObjectStore/Javelin staff, although Van Huizen said the exact headcount is still to be determined. Corporate headquarters will remain at Progress' Bedford, Mass., location.

Both Progress and eXcelon are publicly held companies. Progress reported that revenue for the quarter ending August 31, 2002, increased 3% over the same quarter last year, to $69 million. Net income was $5.5 million, up 12% from the same quarter last year. eXcelon reported a drop in revenue for the quarter ending September 30, 2002, to $8 million vs. $11.1 million for the same period of 2001. Net loss was $8.4 million.

About the Author

Colleen Frye is a freelance writer based in Bridgewater, Mass.

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