Briefing: Grand Central
Grand Central Business Services Network
priced by traffic
San Francisco, California
I first wrote about Grand Central back in May. Recently they've gone
through an upgrade cycle, and I took advantage of this to have another
chat with them. As you might recall, Grand Central's basic goal
is to be the phone company of SOA exchanges between different
corporations. They provide a centrally hosted switchboard and a set of
services designed to make it easy to tie your business into their
Grand Central's "Business Services Network '05" includes a lot of
pieces, but one of the ones of interest to developers will be their new
Process Designer tool for business process management. This is a
Web-hosted drag-and-drop tool for hooking up various services into a
single business process. Grand Central also supplies secure messaging,
interfaces to a variety of protocols from FTP to EDI to Web Services,
and their own directory of available services.
Advances in the latest rollout of the platform include abstracting
authentication and error handling to be consistent across a wide variety
of services. This lets developers hook up more stuff to their own needs
without needing to learn every nuance of every competing way to provide
software as a service.
It appears to be working. I saw a nice demo that involved wrapping
functionality from SalesForce.com into a custom application, and it was
all pretty seamless. Rather than learning all about the API for a
particular service, the developer can leverage the Grand Central tools
to get up and running faster, and to expose more functionality for the
same amount of development effort.
One interesting thing about Grand Central is the pricing: as long as you
keep your usage below 25MB of traffic per month, it remains free. After
that, you can expect to pay $1000 per month and up. Of course, the
company is hoping you get hooked at the free level and see enough
payback that you'll sign up immediately after testing. Visit their Web
site for more details.
Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.