The iPod of Integration?

Looking to further exploit what it sees as a gap in traditional data and application integration solutions, Cast Iron Systems plans to release the next generation of its integration appliance May 2.

The Cast Iron iA3000 and iA3000HA (High Availability) features up to five times the performance over previous models, support for complex data validation scenarios and advanced XML, Web services and HTTP connectors, the company said. Also new, support for any language with Unicode compliance and additional remote management and diagnostics.

The appliances are essentially boxes stacked with software that help companies integrate disparate applications. Cast Iron says its appliance addresses a different market or need than integration software from companies such as Tibco and WebMethods.

“There are two types of problems, the rocket science level of integration with billions of transactions in a data warehouse that is merged and purged over hours and that’s wonderful for a Tibco or WebMethods,” Simon Peel, vice president of marketing at San Francisco, Calif.-based Cast Iron, told Peel also says the aforementioned companies products are well-suited to business process management and business activity management.

“But the majority of integration problems are less complex, where companies are looking to connect together systems or information that are in different formats,” said Peel. “Like moving flat files into a database, or moving one database to another, that’s our sweet spot.”

Peel says the value of Cast Iron’s appliance isn’t that it provides a new application, but the speed, integration and features it brings to the table. He compares Cast Iron’s value to IT departments, to the simplicity Apple’s iPod brought to consumers looking to acquire and play music off the Internet.

“We’ve pre-configured and defined the integration,” says Peel. “When you want to route and manage files it’s all point-and-click. It’s configuration, not coding.” The Cast Iron appliance has no moving parts and doesn’t require coding or administration.

The iA3000HA is designed for fast deployment of mission critical projects. Cast Iron claims an edge over competitive solutions that can take weeks to assemble, code and test and specialists to install and maintain. By contrast, the iA3000HA can be installed in less than an hour, according to Cast Iron. Persistent transactions across both units in the system is designed to ensure no data loss.

Despite the additional features and improved performance, pricing for the base iA3000 hasn’t changed from earlier models at $125,000. A new wrinkle, Cast Iron now offers a $4,000 /month lease option.

Motorola, an early user of the iA3000, said it’s helped the company dramatically reduce the total cost of ownership for integration projects. Charles Soto, Motorola director, global integration services & solutions, said in a statement that “the Cast Iron iA3000 is one of the easiest and most cost-effective integration solutions we have seen.”

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