Level 8's FalconMQ: Just Like MOM

Global professional advisory firm, KPMG LLP, needed a middleware solution that would connect HP’s MPE/iX 5.5 operating system with the Windows NT platform.

After an initial search for a suitable middleware product came up empty, KPMG did what any big-name firm with lots of resources would do: It partnered with a trusted software developer.

"We looked at a number of different products and found that nobody had a strong product or strong solution for our purposes," explains Michael Milton, a senior consultant at KPMG LLP. "We then contacted the folks at Level 8. While they didn’t have anything off the shelf, they were certainly willing to convert one of their existing products [FalconMQ] for the MPE/iX 5.5 operating system."

A MOM solution, such as FalconMQ, is designed to provide dependable, asynchronous communication between disparate platforms. For example, FalconMQ, a message-oriented middleware (MOM) solution, works in conjunction with Microsoft Message Queuing Services (MSMQ) essentially extending the capabilities of MSMQ to non-Windows NT operating systems, such as IBM AIX, Sun Solaris, HP-UX, Linux, IBM MVS and OS/400, SCO UNIX and VMS. And now, MPE/ iX.

It allows a business or organ-ization to integrate with Windows NT any legacy applications that reside on UNIX servers, MVS mainframes, AS/400 and VMS servers, HP3000 servers and Unisys systems.

When the MOM has been implemented properly, an application on one platform can send a message to an application on another platform without being required to wait for an immediate reply. If the receiving application is temporarily unavailable, the message is placed in a queue until it can be delivered.

KPMG initially recognized a need for a MOM solution while in the process of implementing an online storefront for Sunrider International, a multilevel marketing company that manufacturers and distributes cosmetics, health foods and household products.

As the senior consultant for the project, Milton studied the various middleware alternatives available, including IBM’s MQSeries and a plain ODBC connection, searching for a solution that would allow the asynchronous and near-real-time transmission of data between the Windows NT and MPE/iX platforms. FalconMQ is the solution he settled on.

Milton couldn’t be more pleased with the results: "The FalconMQ software allows us to synchronize data from the NT storefront using Microsoft Site Server as the front-end and the cataloging of the store; send the orders and membership data back and forth instantaneously; and receive shipping confirmations. We were able to leverage the existing ERP system that was on the HP3000. And by the use of messaging and message-queuing technology, send this data back and forth between the two platforms."

Milton reports that KPMG has had no serious problems with FalconMQ, other than working out the usual kinks in documentation. He warns, however, that middleware implementation is not a task to be taken lightly. "This is not a technology that should be implemented by just your standard folks. It takes a great deal of planning and knowledge of what you’re trying to do, of what you’re trying to accomplish, in order to be able to set up the architecture properly."

-- Jeff Dodd, Contributing Author