Iona woos big SIs

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US-based middleware vendor Iona Technologies has begun talking with large Australian system integrators about distributing its new web services suite.

Peter Cousins, the US-based technical director at Iona, said the company was talking with “some of the big system integrators” here about deals to shift Artix, the company's just-launched web services middleware. Cousins has been touring Australia promoting Artix to major carriers including Telstra, Vodafone and Optus.

“We have, with Artix, a much more business-level message than we have had in the past,” he said. “A lot of system integrators that have substantial Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) presence have noticed that EAI ship is taking in water.”

Cousins said industry was experiencing “unprecedented levels of discontent” with EAI. Companies had spent a lot of money on EAI to find that their application integration problems had not gone away. Yet web services-based architecture would eventually reap rewards, he said. “Previous services architectures were an all or nothing proposition, but now, with web services ... you don't need to rip and replace,” Cousins said.

Artix's Encompass aims to help users re-use and extend existing applications built on disparate middleware platforms. The Relay version targets users linking middleware platforms such as Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA), MQSeries, Tuxedo and Tibco, Cousins said.

“Companies have got thousands of man-hours of effort built into their CRM applications. They don't want to rip those things out and re-write them in a new language,” he said.

The Artix Mainframe product could help businesses evoke certain mainframe transactions as web services, without altering the mainframe applications involved, he said.

“Web Services Definition Language (WSDL) is by far the most important standard,” Cousins said. “What a lot of people want is to start modelling using WSDL -– but many of their mainframes use MQSeries [for instance].”

Artix would help raise interest in CORBA platforms, he added, which were “technically quite excellent” for enterprise services but not broadly adopted.

“A package can pay for itself in terms of server consolidation [for example],” Cousins said.

Artix was “a partner technology” for Microsoft's .NET platform. Artix could link a .NET front end to Unix or mainframe applications. Artix also provided “less vendor lock-in” and a “more whole solution” than J2EE Connector Architecture (JCA), he claimed.

“People look at a structure like J2EE and they think 'if I just use this one kind of architecture it will make my life easier'. And then it turns out that J2EE has 62,000 APIs and if you want to move away from it, forget it,” Cousins said.

Iona was backing an Artix-assisted return to profitability by increasing product sales and customer numbers across the board, he said. The US-based firm reported second quarter ended 30 June revenues of US$16.4 million and a net loss of US 77 cents a share.

Iona has so far launched its Artix suite in mature IT markets such as the US, UK, Switzerland, Germany, Australia and Ireland.

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