Lease Plan Fires Salvo for NT-to-AS/400 Integration

These days it seems that everyone wants to build an intranet or extranet solution. But typically, when developing new intranet applications that rely on and integrate with existing tried-and-true applications, the existing applications need to be altered in significant ways.

Lease Plan, a car rental company based in Luxembourg, Belgium, confronted just such a solution when it wanted to build a car booking application for its business car rental division, Keddy, that would enable its customers to reserve car reservations 24x7 via the company's Web site over the Internet.

The problem? The new extranet application, which runs on Windows NT, needed to hook into the company's existing AS/400-based auto booking application -- and Lease Plan engineers had no interest in touching the code of their AS/400 application. "Other suppliers, including IBM, couldn't offer us a solution that didn't mean re-writing our application," explains Paul Van Vlierden, Keddy project leader. "But Simware did with Salvo, and without having to change a single line of code."

Keddy chose Simware's (Ottawa, Canada) Salvo, a three-tier component-based middleware solution that enables corporations to deliver business information to desktops via browser or traditional thick-client applications, to develop the Web-based booking application. According to Keddy, Salvo was chosen because of the tight integration it provides with the AS/400. "It was the only available product that enabled us to retain our legacy system in its entirety," notes Keddy's Van Vlierden.

Using Salvo over a nine month period, the Keddy development team built an interactive and transactional auto booking application that runs on a Windows NT server running Microsoft IIS and connects to an AS/400 over a LAN.

The application enables car rental customers to connect to the Keddy Web site via a standard Web browser to book their rentals. All customer requests are securely forwarded from the Web browser to a Salvo Server running on a Windows NT machine for processing. The Salvo Server connects to the AS/400, which runs the customer database server and the original car rental application.

By using Salvo, Keddy estimates that the auto reservation process will progress about 15 percent faster, enabling the company to optimize its resources. "By offering our clients the opportunity to book their vehicles directly using the Web as their interface, our operators are able to spend more time taking extra bookings," explains Johan Meyssen, Keddy managing director.