Integrator Covers Range of Legacy Systems

As information systems within enterprises grow – and staffing subsequently remains relatively static – it becomes increasingly important to consolidate data stored in a variety of back-end locations. To this end, Intelligent Environments Inc. has developed Amazon Integrator, a Web application server used to build and run applications that connect to multiple environments and platforms.

"We saw the need for a product that could handle the range of systems that we found in large organizations," says Laurence Shafe, CTO and founder of the Intelligent Environments, a London-based firm with U.S. offices in Massachusetts and Illinois.

An integration server is an application server with a wide range of connectivity, distributed object support and high volume transaction processing capabilities, according to Shafe. Available since the first week of December, Amazon Integrator consists of development studio, integration server and management console components.

Shafe explains that the three key objectives of Amazon Integrator are: linking multiple, disparate platforms – such as relational databases through to corporate messaging systems; making that information better integrated and easier to access; and making it available to Web users through object services – including Microsoft’s D-Com, CORBA, Java beans, etc.

"In other words, you can use Amazon Integrator to sort of wrap legacy systems and make them available as objects, which can then be available to a Visual Basic application [client/server] or a Java application [the Web]," Shafe says.

Amazon Integrator includes the Intelligent Connectivity Engine (ICE). Further, connectivity is divided into four major areas: database access – including Oracle, Sybase, IBM and SQL server; terminal emulation – 5250 and 3270; transaction handling or message-base connectivity – via CICS, MQSeries or APPC to get back to AS/400; and distributed objects – where applications can be called to be integrators.

"We see each one of these categories as logically separate," Shafe points out. "And for each of them, we have a separate builder, a point and click facility in the development environment that enables you to access data using that technique."

Timm Vonu, president of Intelligent Environments NA, offers the Chicago-based Aon Warranty Group as a customer that has implemented Amazon Integrator. "Aon services warranties through a series of call centers [which run on a combination of AS/400, IBM mainframe, Unix and PC platforms]," Vonu says. "We have been working with the Aon Warranty Group over the course of the past several months to re-engineer one of their existing applications specifically for the PC warranty business, to handle in-bound claims against these warranties. Basically it’s a call-center application that helps the customer service representatives address these issues for warranty claims."

Aon has historically grown through "massive numbers" of mergers and acquisitions, according to Vonu. "They have grown by acquiring various call center vendors," he says. "With the acquisition of these vendors, they are also acquiring numerous legacy database systems and applications. They need at some point to integrate all this information across these databases into a centralized view of their customers."

Amazon Integrator will serve as Aon’s primary platform for data integration across these various entities, Web-enabling these applications for customer self-service and facilitating Y2K compliance, according to Vonu.