DataMirror, Lakeview, Vision Expand, Converge

Lakeview Technology and Vision Solutions have traditionally been known for their AS/400 high availability solutions. DataMirror has made a name for itself in data transformation and cleansing for both the AS/400 and other platforms. All three companies have recently taken steps to ensure that they can’t be so easily pigeonholed in the future.

The sea of change started in August of last year when Irvine, Calif.-based Vision Solutions announced the acquisition of ExecuSoft (Wayzata, Minn.). That brought ExecuSoft’s Symbiator bi-directional data transformation product into the Vision suite of high availability solutions. Last month, Vision released version 2.6 of Symbiator, its first release of the product since last year’s acquisition.

Symbiator 2.6 supports bi-directional data replication between any combination of ODBC-compatible databases, including DB2/400; Microsoft SQL Server and Access; Oracle; Sybase SQL Server, Adaptive Server and SQL Anywhere; and Progress Software 8.2b. It leverages optimized ODBC drivers that support native TCP/IP or SNA Server connections for faster movement of data.

Symbiator provides high-speed batch transfer, but also can be configured to send only net changed data on a real-time basis, reducing network traffic and costs.

“They may not be glamorous enhancements, but they’re changes to the technology and architecture that make the product perform better and make it easier for customers to use,” says Scott Staniar, product marketing director for Symbiator.

Vision will now look to the revitalized Symbiator to continue to drive revenue growth. Chris Turner, Vision CEO, says Symbiator only accounts for about 10 percent of Vision’s revenue now, but the company expects that share to increase to at least 25 percent next year. “We’ve invested in the technology and brought it up to par with Vision standards. Now we expect it to really take off for us,” he notes.

Turner can afford to sound so bullish. IBM estimates that up to 98 percent of AS/400s are in multi-platform environments, where shared, integrated data between disparate systems and databases is a necessity.

Not about to be left behind, Lakeview Technology is also tying its future fortunes to cross-platform data replication. The Oak Brook, Ill.-based AS/400 high-availability solutions vendor matched arch-rival Vision with last month’s announcement that it had acquired Praxis International Inc. (Waltham, Mass.), developer of the OmniEnterprise enterprise-wide data movement solution for Unix, Windows NT and MVS environments.

Lakeview plans to extend the OmniEnterprise technology to the AS/400 and leverage Praxis’ expertise on other platforms to make Lakeview’s Mimix AS/400 high availability suite a cross-platform product.

“This will give us the ability to provide data movement and transformation capabilities to our account base and sell our high availability solution into [Praxis’] account base,” says David Wegman, VP of marketing at Lakeview.

Wegman says this combined Lakeview/Praxis solution will support DB2/400 as a target database before the end of this year and as a source database by the first quarter of next year. Though Vision Solutions and DataMirror have an obvious head start in bi-directional, multi-platform data transformation, Wegman says that Lakeview isn’t necessarily playing catch-up.

“It’s an execution issue more than a catch-up issue. We feel Omni is more robust and goes much deeper as a product than anybody else’s products. So we don’t see this as playing catch-up. We feel we’re well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunities in the transformation market,” Wegman says.

Just to show it hasn’t abandoned high availability, Lakeview also announced an agreement with IBM Global Services, whose Business Recovery Services unit will remarket Mimix as part of its Rapid Recovery/400 program. Wegman cites a Gartner Group study that pegged the use of high availability solutions as growing at 50 percent annually through 2001. And Lakeview will be able to compete in that market cross-platform.

“This positions the company to grow exponentially,” Wegman says. “We’ve broken out of the single-product, single-platform mold.”

But turnabout is fair play. With all the opportunities in high availability and with Vision and Lakeview making a serious push into data movement, it’s only natural that DataMirror, whose strong point has always been data transformation and replication, would bolster its high-availability solution.

The Markham, Ontario-based company has done just that with the release of a new, more tightly-integrated version of its High Availability Suite for the AS/400.

This version of High Availability Suite, due out by the end of this month, includes dbMirror, for data mirroring; ObjectMirror, for mirroring of AS/400 objects, SwitchOver System, for high speed operational switching in the event of system failure, and StatusMonitor, for full process monitoring.

“It’s a fully integrated suite that’s easy to install, easy to maintain and doesn’t require consultants to keep it going,” says Bill Hartwick, director of marketing at DataMirror.

Wayne Nathanson, DataMirror’s VP of business development, says that with the advent of e-business and the online transactions it brings, there is a greater demand for high availability solutions. Amazon.com, for example, would do well to buy into high availability. The well-known Internet bookstore that’s supposed to always be open was recently offline for 10 hours because of planned maintenance that took twice as long as anticipated.

“We’re acknowledging the growth of e-business,” says Nathanson. “Companies want high-availability solutions that are more reliable and more available with low maintenance so they have less interruption to their business.”

“Our customers are driven by their customers to be highly available,” adds Hartwick.

Though better known for data transformation and replication, DataMirror isn’t exactly new to the high availability space. Nathanson says its existing high availability products account for about 25 percent of its revenues. However, this release is a more complete, integrated high availability solution. The dbMirror product is new to the suite [previous versions transformed data rather than mirrored it] and the Status Monitor now shows an integrated single view of the data and objects.

“There’s one installation process, one administration process and the data mirroring and object mirroring, though separate processes, are integrated to act as one so you look at a single view of latency and see the entire machine status,” says Nathanson. “You run faster, have less overhead and a single install, administration and view. And the data portion is focused exclusively on high availability and fault tolerance, not on transformation. It shows that the data is synchronized.”

DataMirror’s new high availability suite will be available Nov. 30. Licensees of DataMirror’s existing high availability suite who have a service contract will be able to upgrade to the new suite free of charge. Licensees of individual modules will get a price break on the new suite.