Attachmate adds tools for integrating legacy applications

Attachmate is launching software for integrating legacy mainframe and minicomputer applications with newer systems, the first of...

Attachmate is launching software for integrating legacy mainframe and minicomputer applications with newer systems, the first of two steps it's taking to expand beyond the shrinking terminal-emulation market.

The myExtra Smart Connector tools are due to be followed next quarter by a set of products that can be used to design new user interfaces for green-screen applications, said Markus Nitschke, vice-president of marketing at Attachmate.

The company began limited shipments of Smart Connector last year, and Nitschke said that about 15 users have built applications with the technology so far. The tools convert legacy application data into formats such as XML and are aimed at short-term integration projects as a lower-cost alternative to full-blown enterprise application integration (EAI) software, he said.

For example, The Stanley Works, a US maker of hand tools, plans to use Smart Connector to tie applications on its back-end IBM mainframe and AS/400 (now called the iSeries) to a new online order-entry system based on Microsoft's .net technology and BizTalk Server software.

KC Jones, .net architect at Stanley, said other integration technologies "were cost-prohibitive" compared with Smart Connector. The Attachmate software also provides an automated way to map how legacy applications work, Jones added. "We have a lot of legacy code that was written before the dawn of time, and nobody knows what kind of logic is built into it," he said.

The Smart Connector line includes a drag-and-drop design tool, a security and user authentication component, and runtime code that can be distributed across multiple Windows, Unix and Linux servers. Pricing starts at $65,000 (£42,000) per runtime server CPU and can go over $500,000 (£320,000) on big projects, Nitschke said.

Mark Vanston, an analyst at Meta Group, said Smart Connector is "a quick-and-dirty way" to hook new applications to legacy systems, a capability many EAI vendors have ignored.

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