No More Coding for EAI? DAM Right, Says Magic
November 9, 2004 Alex Woodie
Magic Software recently launched a new release of its iBOLT enterprise application integration (EAI) suite that, the company claims, virtually eliminates the need for people to write code to connect applications. The secret to the elimination of programming in iBOLT 2.0 is something called Directly Accessible Methods (DAM), which, Magic says, allows integration architects to plug components together from the comfort of a graphical interface. The company also announced its most recent financial results and a new partnership with SAP.
Getting enterprise applications on different platforms to talk to each other has never been easy. Lots of money has been spent on proprietary message brokering middleware systems and $100-an-hour consultants to invasively code integration into source and target platforms. With the advent of XML and Web services standards, traditional EAI is making way for a new class of plug-and-play integration techniques and integration products.
Magic Software’s iBOLT can be considered as a bridge between old world EAI and the new world of integration through Web services. Since it launched, in early 2003, the software has worked by basically implementing a new integration architecture that links existing systems. The iBOLT Studio suite’s graphical design tools are intended to allow non-technical “integration architects” to map existing business processes running on iSeries, Unix, Linux, and Windows systems, and then define how those business processes will flow together under the new architecture. Then, at runtime, the software creates the executables (iBOLT Server) needed to link these processes into a new composite application, and watches (iBOLT Monitor) how well they’re working on the different platforms.
With the new Version 2.0 release of iBOLT, Magic says it has eliminated almost all of the drudgery and programming needed to build these composite applications. (The key word here is “almost.” There is still a need for code slingers.) Magic has been able to reduce the need for coding by introducing what it calls Directly Accessible Methods (DAMs), which let integration architects access the different capabilities of each component. Magic says the DAMs result in simpler, quicker iBOLT integration projects, and allow the integration architect to play a more central role in the development stage, not just the design stage.
“This iBOLT version sets new standards in usability and empowers everyone across the enterprise, enabling full participation and collaboration at every stage of the integration process, and minimizing training requirements,” says Avigdor Luttinger, head of the iBOLT program at Magic.
This release also features new “data mapper service,” which enables the manipulation and mapping of objects; a new XML interface that lets developers dynamically control and configure the iBOLT components, and which abstracts the technicalities related to their underlying technology; the capability to create iBOLT components in native Java; enhanced Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) support; and various other security, recovery, and flow management enhancements.
Testing of new integration architectures has also been a focus for Magic, and the company has made improvements with iBOLT 2.0 in that regard. With this release, Magic claims that it has introduced a “total separation between business and technology layers.” This is significant because it makes it much easier to test and simulate the system when changes have been made to business processes or business process flow, the company says. By allowing integration specialists to thoroughly test the integration workflow before implementation, it also provides greater investment protection and “future proofing.”
Magic also announced a new partnership with SAP’s North American subsidiary last week, which will see Magic develop a version of iBOLT specifically tailored to work with SAP’s Business One software. Business One is a Windows-based ERP suite designed for small and midsized businesses.
The companies said the special Business One version of iBOLT will help enable Business One users to expand their ERP system with features like extended workflows, composite applications, multi-channel access, unlimited interoperability and integration with other systems and platforms, and business activity and performance monitoring. No timetable was given for when we might see the specialized iBOLT version.
The agreement also brings Business One to Magic’s network of developers and resellers, which will be encouraged to build connections between their systems and Business One. “iBOLT fits very well with SAP Business One, enabling our mutual partners to bring together a wide range of solutions for small and midsize businesses,” says Dan Kraus, vice president for SAP Business One for SAP America.
Magic Software Enterprises, based in Or Yehuda, Israel, also announced financial results for its third quarter, which ended September 30. Compared with its third quarter in fiscal year 2003, the company’s total revenue dropped 4 percent, from $15.7 million to $15.0 million. Software license sales were essentially flat, dropping 1 percent from a year ago, to about $4.7 million. A closer look, however, reveals that new application sales dropped significantly, by 22 percent, from about $1.7 to about $1.3 million, while maintenance and support revenue basically made up the difference, increasing by 16 percent, from about $2.8 million to about $3.2 million. Consulting and services revenue dropped by 11 percent, from about $6.5 million to about $5.8 million. While net income declined 8 percent for the quarter, Magic was still in the black, with $746,000 in profit.
For the first three quarters of its fiscal year 2004, Magic software’s total revenue was up 4 percent, to about $48.1 million. For the first nine months, software license sales were up 17 percent, application revenue reached was down 5 percent, maintenance and support revenue was up 14 percent, and consulting and services revenue was down 5 percent. Magic also announced that its board has authorized the repurchase of up to $2 million of its ordinary shares, because its board of directors believes the stock is significantly undervalued. Following the announcement, Magic’s stock, which is traded on the Nasdaq, dropped more than 11 percent in value, to $3.23, before it picked up Friday. It was trading around $7.50 in February.