OS/400 Edition
Volume 2, Number 46 -- December 10, 2002

Attachmate Smart Connectors Link Legacy Apps to Java, .NET

by Alex Woodie

Attachmate, a prominent provider of midrange and mainframe emulators, recently updated its line of adapters designed to help companies extend data and applications residing on OS/400 servers and mainframes from IBM and Unisys to newer Web-based systems using emerging Web services standards. Attachmate says its myEXTRA! Smart Connectors eliminate custom coding by automatically mapping host data, such as the 5250 datastream, to output as objects that are compatible with Enterprise Java and Microsoft's .NET framework.

The version 1.0 release of the myEXTRA! Smart Connectors were rolled out to customers earlier this year. It wasn't until the company started shipping version 2.0 in late November that it decided to announce the products the world. Eventually, the myEXTRA! Smart Connectors will replace Attachmate's existing e-Vantage HostPublishing System software, sources at the company say.

Attachmate's four myEXTRA! Smart Connectors includes the myEXTRA! Smart Connector for 3270 & 5250, the myEXTRA! Smart Connector for CICS, the myEXTRA! Smart Connector for IMS, and the myEXTRA! Smart Connector for UTS and T27. (UTS and T27 refer to two types of Unisys mainframe environments.)

Application developers interact with myEXTRA! Smart Connectors through a Java-based drag-and-drop program builder that allows them to navigate through the host application screens and select which business processes they want to expose. As the developer goes from screen to screen, the myEXTRA! Smart Connector runs in the background and "learns" how to access the screens. Attachmate says this process of decoupling application logic from presentation logic benefits companies by allowing them to repeatedly deploy the business logic housed in the legacy system without making changes to the host system.

While the software taps datastreams using the same techniques as a screen scraper, the software goes beyond traditional screen-scraping techniques offered by Attachmate, and scores of other Web-to-host software providers, by effectively eliminating the host screen session from the equation. The software can be used to generate composite applications created from business processes running on several disparate systems. Specific fields on the host screen can be skipped in the new application, or developers can use the software to go out and grab fields from several systems and present the information in one new screen.

Markus Nitschke, Attachmate's vice president of marketing, says customers are looking for ways to reduce the costs associated with integration, which typically accounts for 40 percent of the total cost of new ebusiness projects, he says. And while many IT shops' budgets are still frozen, he says they are managing to fit in less expensive EAI solutions, as long as they provide a quick return on investment. "No IT group is rolling out a project with an ROI of longer than 8 months, and they want the project to be rolled out in less than 6 months," he says.

The myEXTRA! Smart Connectors support a number of different output formats, including Enterprise JavaBeans and Microsoft .NET Common Runtime Language (CLR) objects. Alternatively, the connectors can be generated to output COM+ objects, XML documents transmitted over HTTP, or transmit using message queue technology (through Microsoft's MSMQ and IBM's WebSphere MQ products).

The myEXTRA! Smart Connector for 3270 & 5250 utilize native OS/390 and OS/400 security features. Additional security, monitoring, diagnostics, and logging capabilities can be added through the optional Management and Control Services (MCS) module. The connector includes performance-tuning capabilities through features such as session pooling and session parking, which allows users to jump to a particular screen in a composite application.

The myEXTRA! Smart Connector designer runs on a Microsoft Windows workstation, while the server component of the software runs on Windows, Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, and Linux servers. In both cases, a Java virtual machine that supports the Java Developer Kit 1.3 or 1.4 is required. The software also requires a Web server, such as IBM's WebSphere, BEA's WebLogic, Oracle's Oracle9i, or the Apache Web server, and is compatible with Microsoft's Biztalk Server. Attachmate charges a flat $65,000-per CPU fee for each myEXTRA! Smart Connector, and does have any additional charges for development environment or number of users. For more information, please go to Attachmate's Web site at

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News Briefs and Product Shorts

Alex Woodie

Managing Editor
Shannon Pastore

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Shannon O'Donnell
Timothy Prickett Morgan

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Last Updated: 12/09/02
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