Product Profile: Attunity Connect

Connect is a one-stop shop for data integration with host platforms

If you’re using any of several products from Oracle Corp., SAP America Inc., or Hewlett-Packard Co., chances are that you’re also using software from Attunity Inc., data integration software vendor that—for a variety of different reasons—enjoys a deceptively low profile.

Attunity’s Connect software, for example, powers Oracle’s Transparent Gateways, a data integration product that facilitates access to host data. Connect also provides the underlying data integration technology for ERP giant SAP’s SAP Portals, as well as for HP’s OpenVMS operating environment.

In addition, Attunity boasts partnerships with a variety of other big name players, including BEA Systems Inc., Microsoft Corp., BAE Systems and enterprise application integration specialist Vitria Technology Inc.

The upshot, says Attunity director of product management Itamar Ankorion, is that his company actually does more business through its OEM arrangements or reseller channels than it does directly. “[These vendors] have customers who are looking at business applications. They’re trying to build a new order management system, or web-enable certain environments. Then they realize that they need to integrate with legacy data, so that’s where we come in.”

There’s good reason for this. Connect, Attunity’s flagship product, is a data integration platform that supports most of the legacy data sources still in use in mission critical IT environments. For non-relational data sources, for example, Connect has adapters that support Adabas, CISAM, DISAM, Delimited Text Files, IMS/DB, RMS and VSAM, among others. On the relational side, there are Connect adapters for DB2, DBMS, Informix, Ingres, HP’s NonStop SQL/MP, Oracle, SQL Server and Sybase.

But Connect also has adapters into mainframe transaction managers such as CICS, IMS/TM, Pathway, Tuxedo and Natural. It supports IBM’s AS/400 or iSeries minicomputer environments, along with Big Blue’s S/390 and zSeries mainframe systems. It also runs on Microsoft’s Windows operating system platforms, and supports most major versions of Unix—along with no-so-major Unices, like DG-UX and Tru64 Unix—in addition to HP’s OpenVMS and NonStop platforms.

So much for host access.

On the distributed side, Connect supports ODBC, JDBC, OLEDB and ADO Provider client access. The upshot, Ankorion says, is that most standard BI applications—such as enterprise reporting tools or ETL software—should be able to plug right in to Connect and access host-based data sources.

Connect includes a query processor that Ankorion says supports standard SQL-92 requests, which it can pass along to relational data stores in host environments. For unstructured or non-relational data, Ankorion explains, Connect leverages a metadata repository that “stores the schemas of non-relational data sources”—for example, VSAM or IMS—and which “lets you access them, even using standard SQL” queries.

Among other possible data integration scenarios, Connect can be used in support of new application development projects—leveraging either J2EE or .NET—that require access to host data; enterprise application integration or B2B integration initiatives; to support enterprise reporting using tools—such as Crystal Reports or Brio—that support standard SQL-92; to publish information to corporate or customer portals; or to facilitate real-time, event-driven integration between enterprise systems.

One of the most common Connect data integration scenarios involves customers who need to make host data available to distributed systems as they transition away from host environments, Ankorion says. “Companies moving to J2EE or .NET are actually thinking of migrating or moving more of those applications over time to the new platform. The challenge that they’re dealing with is that they can’t just shut down the legacy system in one day.”

In late April or early May, Attunity plans to release version 4.0 of Connect, which—among other goodies—will feature an integrated GUI component that enables developers to integrate various aspects of the lifecycle.

In addition, Connect 4.0 will feature a wizard-driven environment that allows developers to build XML adapters to facilitate access to legacy data. Speculates Arkorion: “One of the places where this is going to help a lot is in meta data, because one of the key challenges in legacy integration is the fact that although there is meta data, you need to do some work to make that usable. Be it VSAM or IMS, you open the wizard in Attunity Connect, go through a series of steps, point to your legacy files, and it guides you through the step of turning that into an Attunity XML adapter.”

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.