Application Integration

Application Integration with nix-based systems, particularly those running HP-UX, have traditionally functioned as backroom servers for the telecommunications industry. But with the convergence of voice and data networks, telecommunications vendors are looking to expand their solution offerings and tie existing information systems together with new technologies. ObjectSwitch, Inc. (Larkspur, Calif.), developer of version 3.0 of the ObjectSwitch Server for HP-UX environments, is one independent software vendor that hopes to give HP-UX administrators the tools to do so.

According to Doug Ehrenreich, director of industry marketing with ObjectSwitch, the ObjectSwitch 3 server environment provides a means for organizations to combine services such as ATM, xDSL and Voice-over-IP with applications such as provisioning, billing and customer care - among others - to create integrated meta-applications running across public networks.

"We provide the ability to incorporate and abstract the computers, the networks and the databases into a common logical view. We can then take all of the disparate interfaces and make it simpler to manipulate them without reuniting developers to understand all of the inherent technology," Ehrenreich explains.

New in ObjectSwitch 3 server is enhanced support for software-based fault tolerance as well as the ability to hot-swap on-line applications. In addition, ObjectSwitch 3's support for UML-based object modeling and other enhancements makes it possible to develop new adapters and application interfaces at a lower cost.

Developers are often forced to create custom interfaces, but ObjectSwitch can abstract the difficulty of this process and allow programmers to code to one single interface standard. That approached has worked well for Chris Thornton, executive IT director with Gabriel Communications, a telecommunications company using ObjectSwitch 3 server to transparently tie a number of disparate applications together on some new N-class boxes running HP-UX 11.x.

Thornton's problem cuts to the core of an emerging trend: Enterprise Application Integration (EAI): "We have several best of breed applications for our back office operations - including billing support, customer service and network inventory and provisioning. And we need to find a way to tie all of those systems together so that they can share information in a sort of near real-time environment."

"The problem with [EAI] is that everyone is saying - Program to my API to integrate all of these business processes and rules," observers Ehrenreich, noting that ObjectSwitch 3's integration services provide one programmable API and abstracts the complexity of oftentimes diverse enterprise environments.

Thornton agrees: "ObjectSwitch provides the tools that allow us to build a solution that integrates all our applications, and it [does so within the context of] a completely programmable engine."