Cysive follows the user

Cysive Inc. on Monday unveiled a new version of its "interaction server" that is designed to direct and manage long-running application transactions to users across myriad channels, notably wireless.

Built entirely on Web services, Cysive's Cymbio Interaction Server 3.0 feeds off the concept of pervasive computing, tailoring responses to an application request to whatever channel the user is on, be it voice, wireless PDA, e-mail, or other systems, said Nelson Carbonell, CEO of the Reston, Va.-based company.

"We allow enterprises and their applications to interact with users, which sounds simple," said Carbonell. "But the reality is that all users aren't on the Net. Instead, we see a fabric of communications channels that we address as one entity."

At its core, Cymbio Version 3.0 leverages Web services to direct transactions that are more complex than purchasing a single item from an e-commerce site, Carbonell said.

Instead, he cited the mortgage process, during which users interact with applications in long-running transactions over weeks or months, from applying for a loan to shopping for rates to soliciting a property appraisal. To do so, they might use a browser one day and a cell phone the next, he said.

"We are not geared toward internal application integration, but [are] about using Web services to communicate back to the applications and then provide the interfaces for the application directly out to the users," Carbonell said.

One component of Cymbio Version 3.0 is called "follow-on" technology, which allows a user to switch channels midstream in an application interaction without losing context. For example, an online shopper who finds his PDA too cumbersome for typing would be able to switch over to his PC and pick up exactly where he left off in the purchasing fields.

Analysts said the follow-on technology takes the concept of application sessions to another level.

"Application servers have sessions that track the larger user interaction, but they are limited to a single type of device," said Nate Root, an industry analyst with Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass. "What follow-on does is abstract the session to a level higher so that you can push the application off to a cell phone. But if the user decides they want to use PDA, you can forward the session."

Root said that Cysive's barrier to adoption right now is the acceptance of wireless as an application-delivery medium.

"Companies don't yet understand the power of what you can do with wireless, including the portal and app server vendors," said Root. "They are testing the waters, but right now it's only used by a niche specialty market."

Cymbio Version 3.0 also features broader Web services optimization for systems such as WebSphere MQ, JCA (Java Connector Architecture) and JMS (Java Message Service), including a toolkit so that developers can tie Cymbio into legacy systems via Web services.

The new version also adds a visual environment for easier development, as well as additional management and monitoring capabilities.

Cymbio Version 3.0 is priced at US$75,000 per production CPU, $10,000 per development/test CPU, and $2,500 per developer seat, officials said.

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