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Iona Embraces Mainframes, Eclipse in New ESB

Iona Technologies enhanced its flagship enterprise service bus (ESB) by adding support for mainframe systems and integration with the popular Eclipse development platform.

Designed to help enterprises exchange and integrate data written in disparate languages, Artix 3.0 helps facilitate Web services messages across service-oriented architectures (SOA) .

While previous ESBs limit integration points to limited transports and payloads, Artix 3.0 extends endpoints within systems with custom plug-ins. It also supports more protocols, data models, security standards and development platforms than ever, said Iona CTO Eric Newcomer.

Specifically, Newcomer said Artix 3.0 features platform support for the popular Eclipse and Visual Studio development platforms, as well as for mainframes. For example, users can use Artix to integrate Microsoft .NET with an IBM mainframe to serve a customer call center application with several thousand users.

Expanded application platform support for WSDL , J2EE, Java servlets and native C++ containers is also part of the mix. Other improvements include integration with IBM Tivoli and Computer Associates WSDM and support for WS-Atomic Transaction WS-Addressing and UDDI . Support for WS-ReliableMessaging will be included this year, Newcomer said.

Artix 3.0 will be available by the end of the first quarter this year, with a typical deployment starting at $10,000 per CPU.

"We see the ESB market as segmenting between lower end, middle and high end," Newcomer said. "At the high end, we see a strong requirement for these extensibility features, broad platform support and quality of service."

Iona has its roots as a company providing CORBA-based integration software for the likes of Lockheed Martin, AT&T, Credit Suisse and Boeing.

For example, Newcomer said that Credit Suisse has used Iona's CORBA software to power its SOA since 2000. In a modern-day, real example of how an SOA is meant to operate, the bank runs roughly one billion transactions on it per year, he said.

But as computing demands are changing, Iona has begun to drill down into offering an ESB for new-age distributed computing systems that use Web services and adhere to SOA principles. Artix grew from that banking and telecommunications customer base.

Noting that Artix has always been a high-performance tool, ZapThink analyst Jason Bloomberg said Iona's mainframe integration sets it apart from many of the other ESB vendors, and puts it into competition with Seagull Software, NetManage, HostBridge and others.

"The challenge IONA faces, however, is in differentiating the rest of its ESB message from other vendors like Sonic Software," Bloomberg said.

"Extensibility is not really a strong differentiator, as competitors' products are also quite extensible. We'd like to see them emphasize their performance more, as that's always been their strong suit."

Newcomer said that while Iona certainly bumps up against rivals like Sonic Software and Cape Clear in corporate accounts, those run-ins are largely relegated to smaller deployments.

"At the high end of the market, we don't see anyone with the same type of technology that we have," Newcomer said. "Gartner is predicting similar technology to be delivered by BEA, IBM and Microsoft over the next couple of years."