Forte and Jacada Join Forces to Provide AS/400 Integration

As e-business continues to grow, corporations with multiple servers are facing the dilemma of how to leverage their existing applications with new Web-based applications. With the help of Jacada, Inc., (Atlanta) Forte Software, Inc. (Oakland, Calif.) hopes to solve that problem for AS/400 users with the release of SynerJ.

A 100 percent Java 2 Virtual Machine solution, SynerJ is designed to simplify distributed enterprise Java applications. Through SynerJ, corporations will be able to create new Java e-business applications to leverage existing legacy systems without any changes to the original host application.

SynerJ runs on Windows NT and Sun Solaris servers, not the AS/400. Jacada Connects provides the integration between the SynerJ server and any mainframe or AS/400 application through an open face Java API.

"Over the past year, we've seen a real need to rapidly deploy sophisticated e-business solutions that leverage proven business logic," says Rob Morris, director of product marketing for Jacada. "The combination of SynerJ and Jacada Connects facilitates end-to-end business solutions deployed in Internet time."

Forte has experience in leveraging applications from multiple servers, with products such as Forte Classic, but did not have any Java-based products that solved this problem. In the beginning, the original focus of SynerJ was on NT and Solaris platforms. Midway through the development process, however, Forte began to look for a partner who could provide integration with the AS/400. "We use Jacada to get information that resides on the AS/400," says Mark Herring, director of product marketing at Forte. "Jacada is standards-based, written in Java and is a proven solution."

About the same time, Morris says he was looking to partner with someone to provide integration between AS/400 and systems when he came across Forte. "Both products are architected in an open manner, so the integration was pretty easy," he says. "Forte was the logical choice for us to partner with."

For corporations that want to build new applications and leverage all their systems, there are two options. Because the applications for each system are written in different codes, the first option is to re-write the codes from each system to work together. "Companies don't have the time to re-architecture or rewrite applications," says Herring. "It's to costly and takes a lot of time."

The second option is to integrate the systems. Jacada Connects manipulates the AS/400 code, typically RPG, to integrate with SynerJ. "Most AS/400s are built in RPG. The trouble is when you want to integrate it with other Web systems such as an NT server," says Herring. "Jacada allows us to tie everything together without changing the AS/400 code."

According to Herring, the main focus of SynerJ is Fortune 500 companies attempting to build integrated e-commerce sites that tie in from the Web to the back-end server. "There's a front-end and a back-end. We're tying everything up in the middle."

Both Morris and Herring expect big things from SynerJ, which began shipping at the end of September. "We think there's a huge need in the AS/400 marketplace for this type of product," says Morris. "It solves the problem of, 'How do I become more of an e-commerce player without having the time to rewrite applications?'"

Despite the fact that Forte was recently acquired by one of IBM's chief competitors, Herring says Forte will continue to be committed to the AS/400 platform. "Our goal is to eventually have SynerJ running on the AS/400."