Reviews

Briefing: Grand Central

Grand Central Business Services Network
priced by traffic
Grand Central
San Francisco, California
(415) 344-3200
www.grandcentral.com

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 network.

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.

About the Author

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.

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