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April 14, 2005

Integration: a cast iron case?

Butler Group recently came across a novel approach to integration offered by a company called Cast Iron Systems. Founded in 2001, many of the senior executives of Cast Iron Systems come from an integration background, but the key difference is in the approach to integration: it offers a combined hardware and software solution in the form of the Application Router.

By CBR Staff Writer

Cast Iron Systems’ Application Router offers a novel integration solution.

What the founders of Cast Iron perceive is that many organizations do not need the large and complicated technology stacks that had been offered by many of the older Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) vendors, but just required simple integration with more basic connection between different applications at the data level, combined with the ability to manage the overall integration. Many organizations are certainly at a stage where point-to-point integration is not enough, but EAI solutions are still far too complex and costly.

What Cast Iron’s Application Router offers is a fast, low-cost method of supporting real-time data integration. Essentially the device examines data as it travels across the network, and then routes it to the required destination, in the right format, connecting a range of end-points. Evidently customers like the router name, which implies reliability and ease – a nice marketing touch. Underneath, it is really a data router, but it connects applications (hence the name) without the need for complex adapters for different application/operating system combinations.

This is likely to be of interest as a part of an integration solution for organizations that have been reliant on Message-Oriented Middleware, with its many different elements that can include a number of different products, adapters, and management software. It also supports the objection of moving towards a more service-oriented approach to integration, but does not cover the more human aspects of integration. Where workflow and business process management form a significant part of an organization’s requirements, this is unlikely to be of use.

The sweet spot for this type of integration approach looks to be in the area of more straightforward data integration such as providing a single picture of stock levels, or for regular data reporting. Because it is easy to configure, even remotely, it is likely to be of interest for end-users that have distributed sites. This is certainly a novel approach to integration, and could make a significant impact on the market in the short term.

Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)

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