e-Vantage for BEA Tuxedo Takes Flight

In the mad scramble to Webify just about every business operation found in most enterprises today, one truth may well have been forgotten: Even humdrum host-bound airline applications need Web-based front-ends, too.

The potential market for a solution that can integrate the backroom mainframe systems that still host most airline applications with the accessibility and ubiquity of the Internet hasn’t been lost upon Attachmate Corp. (Bellevue, Wash.), however.

The company recently announced e-Vantage for BEA Tuxedo, a Web-to-host connectivity solution that can facilitate two-way, real-time communications between Web hosts and S/390 mainframe and AS/400 environments from IBM, as well as between mainframes from Unisys Corp. (Blue Bell, Pa.) and other vendors.

While IBM S/390 or Unisys mainframes control most airline reservation systems, many such systems are hosted on AS/400 systems, as well.

According to Attachmate, e-Vantage for BEA Tuxedo works by providing a platform for which developers can create Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) that can access mainframe-based applications. e-Vantage for BEA Tuxedo actually consists of a set of SDK objects on a Tuxedo transaction server that serve as object-oriented “conduits.” In practice, these conduits can transparently access and manipulate information from legacy systems.

The way it all works is that when an application requires host information, it passes its request along to the Tuxedo server, which in turn establishes a connection with the mainframe, minicomputer or Unix host using an Attachmate SDK object. The data is subsequently passed to the client application through either EJBs or through the Tuxedo Service itself.

Attachmate officials say that Attachmate SDK objects—which collectively form the heart-and-soul of the e-Vantage for BEA Tuxedo solution—are highly scalable, and have been verified to support over 2,000 concurrent sessions. Moreover, the Attachmate SDK objects can interoperate with host applications written in almost any language, while client applications can be developed in Java, C or C++.

Most importantly, Attachmate sources claim, e-Vantage for BEA Tuxedo doesn’t necessarily require changes to existing host-based applications. Moreover, it supports a variety of hosts right out-of-the-box, as Attachmate provides SDK objects for S/390, AS/400 and other hosts by default.

Attachmate is pulling out all of the stops in promoting e-Vantage for BEA Tuxedo. In early April, for example, the company staged a demonstration of an integrated solution based on Unisys mainframes, BEA’s Tuxedo transaction processing middleware and Attachmate’s own e-Vantage for BEA Tuxedo product. The demonstration took place at the Unisys Airline Users Association in Sydney, Australia.

"Legacy systems have traditionally been the keystone of the Airlines industry because of their reliability, scalability and transaction processing capability,” says Dennis Christ, VP and GM of Unisys’ global transportation division. “As the airlines migrate to the Web, access to the information residing on these robust central servers is crucial. The Attachmate solution with BEA Tuxedo is an ideal partnership to address this need."

According to Rob Enderle, a senior analyst with consultancy Giga Information Group(Cambridge, Mass.), there’s a definite market for a solution such as Attachmate’s e-Vantage for BEA Tuxedo. “Companies are looking to open up their old transactional systems to the Web, and certainly this is compelling for the airlines, in particular.”

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