Attachmate details new Synapta tools

Attachmate is ramping up its product line to help companies use data trapped in legacy systems so developers can more easily tap the information when building host applications delivered as services.

The mainframe connectivity vendor this week detailed its new Synapta presentation and builder tools, which are designed to abstract host information so developers can build composite applications with existing host assets, said Markus Nitschke, vice president of corporate marketing at Attachmate.

"How can you talk about a service-oriented architecture without including your legacy systems in that discussion?" Nitschke said. "The value is service-enabling all existing components. [Synapta tools] provide legacy access and put a layer of abstraction on top so you can create a Web service."

Harbor Federal Savings Bank in the US, has leveraged the Synapta products to access customer account data housed on a Unisys mainframe to build services for online banking transactions and inquiries, said Annetta Smith, the bank's vice president of IT.

"We needed to ... be able to go and hit the host and hit different parts of the host," she said. "Now, I am going to build a Web interface, and I am going to hit my Web service and have it run that task. Synapta allows me to take that same system, and I can allow my end users here to share the tasks that are created and run to the host by my customers."

Vendors such as Attachmate and competitors such as WRQ and NetManage are leveraging enterprise demand to take internally facing applications and expose them to external users without having to touch the mainframe, said Dale Vecchio, an analyst at Gartner.

"Products like Synapta are generally noninvasive," he said. "SOA [service-oriented architecture] is the savior of the mainframe [because] it is going to cause people to use the business logic in place and expose it as services."

Vendors such as Attachmate are often finding success at the departmental level, where users need an immediate system for accessing host data for new applications but want to duck the "religious wars" often waged higher up in an organization around deployment of Microsoft .Net or Java 2 Enterprise Edition platforms, he said.

"If they go into the glass house, they have to take on the architecture question," Vecchio said. "Most organizations have not made a strategic integration decision. In the meantime, the cost and risk and speed with which you can deliver to end users makes these products worthwhile."

The new Synapta tools are expected to be available in November. Pricing for Presentation Builder starts at US$125,000 per runtime; Services Builder starts at US$65,000 per runtime.

First American Default Technologies, has leveraged WRQ's Verastream host integration software to tie its host functionality to its Web and .Net-based loan-tracking application. With Verastream, the mortgage default servicing company has been able to provide bankers and lawyers with Web access to critical loan information, said Glen Banta, First American's director of client technology. Developers also were able to abstract and isolate legacy information to create a series of reusable services assembled with new business logic and used directly in Visual Studio .Net.

"You just go through using their design tools and map out your screens," Banta said. "It is fast because as soon as that data is available, it grabs it and sends it back. Once we have these models to access the host system, it basically turns the mainframe into ... a SQL database ... so you can leverage all types of applications."

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