Unikix Technologies Inc, the CICS transaction emulator for Unix, and middleware company, is hoping to expand and build on its already significant European customer base with the opening of European headquarters in Southampton, UK. The former Compagnie des Machines Bull SA spin-off was bought by electronic commerce specialist Fisher Technology Group Inc earlier this year (CI No 3,080), because, according to president Aidan Harney, there was a conflict of interest between Bull whose business is to sell its own hardware, and Unikix, which is selling a completely open middleware strategy for any hardware system. Under the terms of the sale to Fisher, Unikix, now based in Phoenix, Arizona, retained Bull as its reseller in France and Italy, where the company already has around 100 customer sites, and it will target the rest of Europe, especially the UK, Germany and Scandinavia, from the new Southampton base, headed by international sales director Jean-Yves Lorre. The company’s mission is to become to the open systems market what IBM Corp with CICS is to the mainframe business. The Unikix transaction engine for Unix can stand alone as a transaction monitor for applications written for example in C, but it is more commonly used as an interface to or replacement of CICS on the mainframe. The company says around half its revenue comes from more than 30 independent software vendors, which resell Unikix alongside their vertical market applications for Unix, such as banking and finance. The rest of its business is largely from companies migrating their applications off the mainframe and onto open, Unix-based systems. Unikix supports the IBM CICS application programming interface, or API, and enables mainframe applications to be migrated to Unix systems with no code changes. The company also offers Extended Batch Manager, capable of running enterprise scale batch jobs. The batch manager also automatically translates mainframe MVS/JCL batch commands to Unix. The Parallel Processing Facility product enables a single batch job to be processed in parallel on up to 64 processors, and Harney says the company has seen mainframe batch timings reduced by more than 25:1, down from 5 hours to twelve minutes in one case. Unikix launched an internet interface, Webkix, to its product back in October 1995, and it is about to launch Web Client, a Java-enabled product that enables direct internet access to CICS transaction applications from a Java applet. As long as the mainframe has web server software and TCP/IP, Web Client will enable direct access to the internet.
Totally intuitive visual interface
It has a totally intuitive visual interface that enables developers to create graphical interfaces to 3270 legacy applications without any programming, Harney says. Sun Microsystems Inc has begun promoting Web Client with its JavaStation Network Computers. Web Client will be available free from Unikix’s Web site. The rationale behind this is to raise awareness of the company and its products among mainframe users. Harney believes the company’s main competition comes from companies that chose to stay on the mainframe or software companies like Oracle Corp or SAP AG, that encourage users to ditch legacy applications and take completely new, packaged applications. As far as staying on the mainframe is concerned, he believes the price erosion in commodity, Intel Corp-based hardware will mean that most mainstream users will eventually be compelled to migrate from the mainframe onto Unix systems. Industry analyst the Gartner Group reckons this migration will pick up steam after 2000, and will be more or less completed by 2010. As far as ditching legacy applications for the package approach, Unikix is confident that evolution, rather than revolution is the preferred and safer approach for many large organizations. Future developments from Unikix include object wrapping of CICS transactions, and further down the line, object transaction management, which the company predicts will be a very big requirement for new applications after the year 2000. Unikix is also ‘working on an NT project’ suggesting it will be ready for NT transactions when NT is ready for enterprise scale applications.