looksoftware Developing Cloud Connector for i OS
February 17, 2009 Alex Woodie
looksoftware last week announced the forthcoming release of a new product called Snap for the Cloud that will provide a cloud computing interface for System i and System z developers. The first release of Snap for the Cloud, which is slated for GA in June, will work with Google‘s Internet-based applications, with support for cloud offerings from Microsoft, Amazon, and others arriving later.
For the last few years, Australia-based looksoftware has rolled out new interfaces that allow enterprise AS/400 and mainframe shops to use some of the latest technology and gadgets. For example, last summer, look released a Snap front-end that allows users to access i OS apps from the new generation of smartphones, including Apple‘s iPhone, RIM‘s Blackberry, and Microsoft‘s Windows Mobile devices. Other Snap interfaces have been developed that streamline i OS and z OS application integration with Microsoft’s Office and SharePoint Server, IBM‘s Notes and WebSphere, and others.
Now, looksoftware is taking Snap to the next logical level: the cloud. With Snap for the Cloud, looksoftware promises to deliver a series of connectors that join 5250 and 3270 applications with the growing array of Web-based applications, including Web services, Web 2.0 “mashups,” and software as a service (SaaS) applications, such as Salesforce.com.
The initial Snap for the Cloud release will target Google cloud computing offerings, such as Google Apps and GDrive. This will enable System i users easy access to Web-based document management solutions, looksoftware says. Future releases of snap for the cloud will support Web services and cloud offerings from other vendors, including Microsoft and its Windows Azure platform; Amazon’s bundle of cloud offerings, including Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2), Simple Storage Service (S3), and CloudFront; Adobe‘s Acrobat.com; and Yahoo Cloud Computing.
By serving as the “last mile” that connects AS/400 applications with the major emerging cloud platforms, look’s Snap will eliminate the specific coding requirements brought by those cloud platforms. For example, Google’s App Engine cloud only lets you code applications in Python. Microsoft’s Azure is an ASP.NET animal. Ruby and Ruby on Rails are commonly used with Amazon’s large and growing cloud presence.
The goal of the product is speeding cloud development and cutting costs. Instead of learning new languages, AS/400 and mainframe developers proficient in RPG or COBOL or PL/1 only have to learn how to use looksoftware’s Dynamic Environment (of which Snap for the Cloud is just a part), to get onto the cloud.
Looksoftware already has several users. One of these is Arkona, owner of the i OS-based Dealer Management System (DMS) that’s used by major carmakers like GM and BMW. Arkona considers its Internet capabilities, delivered by looksoftware, to be a strength.
Another early Snap for the Cloud user is ECi2, which used looksoftware products to SaaS-enable the Bridge ERP application suite. ECi2 considers its SaaS capability to be a major reason why the product has been adopted by half a million users.
Snap for the Cloud holds a lot of potential for ISVs, says Eamon Musallam, looksoftware’s product manager (and former LANSA employee). “As our ISV partners have already discovered, the cloud and SaaS offer a tremendous growth opportunity by enabling easy, global access to their rock solid solutions,” he says in a press release. “It’s heartening to see our ISV partners continuing to experience growth, even in these tough economic times.”