e-Adapter Keeps AS/400 Lifeblood Flowing

If the AS/400 was a living thing, with OS/400 serving as its nervous system and DB2/400 as its heart, then the systems' very lifeblood would be data. Buying into this paradigm, it would make sense that for the entire system to survive, data has to flow freely regardless of type or format.

MessageQuest, a Tampa, Fla.-based provider of enterprise application integration solutions, injects its e-Adapter into the midrange market, providing an information integration engine for the AS/400. E-Adapter is designed to allow users to exchange data throughout the enterprise and with trading partners through the use of customizable software portals and integration with messaging middleware technology such as IBM's MQSeries.

"We’re using MQSeries as the transport protocol, and we're enabling the carriage of any data -- whether it's native MQ-enabled applications coming through an MQ format, or any other form of data which we carry via our e-Adapter product," says Colin Osborne, CEO of MessageQuest and formerly an IBM worldwide MQSeries business executive with IBM Transaction Systems Software.

"We're allowing people to use what they already have, in terms of either their communications links or the standards they use, such as EDI," Osborne explains. "Whether or not customers move to newer technology like messaging, the fact is they still have a mass of important data that is not yet message-enabled. We can carry that data which is not yet in a messaging format by using e-Adapter and MQSeries as a transport to take any sort of data -- whether it's out of the database record, flat files or transactional in the MQSeries sense. Because we're using MQ as the data transport, we can then add the transactionality to any of their other data, in terms of monitoring and managing the effectiveness of the delivery."

E-Adapter actually serves as the newest incarnation of MessageQuest's File Transfer Facility (FTF)/MQ product, according to Paul Roth, CTO of MessageQuest. Through e-Adapter, MessageQuest is able to integrate the manufacturing processing and financial systems of their customers' businesses.

"One way MessageQuest is proving the concepts introduced with its new e-Adapter is enabling [for example] one oil company client to move from fax-based e-commerce to Internet-based e-commerce," Roth points out. "We have an extremely powerful solution on the AS/400 platform in terms of integrating with the native database structure of the AS/400."

The AS/400 has an excellent history as a stand-alone device, Osborne adds. "The AS/400 is now much more integrated within the rest of the enterprise, rather than just being a departmental solution," he says.

Since MessageQuest's background is in database and messaging tools, this expertise serves as the company's "credibility badge for understanding this market," Osborne says, emphasizing the importance of taking database and messaging technology to a higher level of universality.

"E-Adapter is expected to appeal to IS shops that do not have in-house knowledge of MQ, or who simply do not wish to get into this type of activity because it is not their core business," Osborne says. "They can just take a service with us to do purely the data exchange and to provide all of the management capability -- whether it's authentication or logging, whether it's queue management, whether it's management of the technology as well as of the data. We can just do that piece, or we can also move into a corporation and help them and their trading partners become enabled. We can do either the e-Adapter integration or the MQSeries integration."

Specific features of e-Adapter include: customizable software portals that integrate e-Adapter to specific systems, databases and applications; dynamically load balanced channels and multi-channel transfer mode; automatic recovery from network or system failure through the use of checkpoint restart technology; and integration with IBM's MQSeries to deliver a range of platform and protocol support to heterogeneous IT environments.

The very renaming of e-Adapter, from File Transfer Facility (FTF), indicates MessageQuest is broadening the capability of its product to manage the flow of more than simple file data, in a way enhancing the AS/400's circulatory system.