ArchiTech Simplifies Metadirectories

OSLO (08/07/2000) - If there is one given about metadirectories - the software used to wire multiple network directories together - it is that they are complex and almost always require professional services to get them up and running.

But a small Norwegian company has developed software designed to let firms easily make a logical whole from information stored in disparate systems.

Last month, ArchiTech AS began shipping its Java-based ArchiTech Server, a script-driven server for near real-time integration, synchronization and aggregation of data stored in directories and applications. The server's core component is called AssemblyLine, a mechanism that collects data from multiple sources and moves it between systems.

The server features a range of connectors that sit on participating directories and applications, and support many transfer protocols, including SNMP, HTTP, FTP, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, Open Database Connectivity and Java Database Connectivity. It also supports applications such as Office and Lotus Domino R5. The server has customizable event triggers to capture events on systems such as databases and a parser that transforms data from one system into a useable format accessible by another system.

"What we like is we don't have to get professional services to install and configure some huge metadirectory," says Keith Hazelton, IT architect at the University of Wisconsin and an early adopter of ArchiTech's software. "It's a tool kit approach. It's small, and you can see all the moving parts."

Hazelton is using ArchiTech in a project to integrate 14 systems distributed across his Madison, Wis., campus. ArchiTech is seeding the higher education market with free software, but a California utility company is running the software in production and some major Fortune 500 manufacturers are testing it.

Companies such as Microsoft and Novell gobbled up the first wave of metadirectory technologies to include in their own product lines, but ArchiTech is an example of what could be a slew of new options from smaller players, says Jamie Lewis, CEO of consulting firm The Burton Group in Midvale, Utah.

ArchiTech's AssemblyLine can push or pull data from directories and applications or perform lookups. For example, if a request to the server calls for data from three directories, AssemblyLine will go to each directory and collect the data, translate it for the target directory based on scripted commands, combine it into an object and send it to the target system. All the work happens on the fly. ArchiTech supports any scripting language, including Perl, VBScript and JavaScript.

"ArchiTech doesn't completely eliminate all the complexities of a metadirectory, but it allows me to deal with them the way I want to. It's very flexible," says Ed Owens, chief technology officer for Creative Networks, a consulting and systems integration firm in Palo Alto.

"A metadirectory has fairly extensive files to collect in order to join data," says Mike Knagenhjelm, CEO of ArchiTech. "We only collect the needed attributes of files and join those."

ArchiTech also supports unified messaging applications, event-based Web publishing and transaction-based integration. In addition, it supports XML.

ArchiTech runs on Windows NT, Unix and Linux.

Pricing for ArchiTech Server varies based on the number of connected systems and users, but a 1,000-user system is priced at approximately US$10,000.


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