Cross Access Corp. has begun shipping its SeriesFour middleware for natively accessing data and metadata in legacy systems and moving it to relational databases, data marts, and enterprise resource planning systems in near-real time.
SeriesFour is a complete rearchitecture of an earlier product called Cross Access. The new program can support as many as 500 concurrent users, compared with 100 for the older product, according to George Langan, Cross Access president and chief operating officer. "We have the speed up to sub-second response times," he says.
At the product's core is a query processor that translates Open Database Connectivity SQL calls into native calls for VSAM, IMS, and IDMS systems, Langan says. Data can be queried with decision-support tools or migrated from the legacy systems to spreadsheets and relational databases, ERP systems, and -- through tools from vendors such as Sagent Technology Inc. and Informatica Corp. -- into data marts and data warehouses.
SeriesFour eliminates the need to write query programs in Cobol. Cobol programmers are in short supply and earn high salaries because of the year 2000 problem. Another advantage is speed: Links to legacy data can be built in as little as two hours, Langan says.
Kawasaki Motors Corp. USA in Irvine, Calif., has been using the SeriesFour software since October to download parts inventory and distribution data from VSAM files on an IBM 9672 mainframe into a Microsoft Access database for sales analysis applications. Previously, the information had to be retyped into Access.
Kawasaki is also in the process of building a data mart that will pull production and dealer inventory data from VSAM and IMS files on the mainframe. When combined with planning models, the information will be used to make production decisions for specific parts and products. "If demand for a particular product is hot, we can quickly change our production plans," says Roger Peterson, Kawasaki information systems VP. "I'm expecting the biggest business benefit will be to shorten that planning cycle."
Another customer, the Chicago Tribune, is downloading advertisement sales data from a VSAM file system into a database running on a Windows NT-based Web server that can be accessed by 400 sale people using Web browsers, according to Langan.
Areiel Wolanow, a principal with the Data Movement Research market research firm, says the growing number of ERP systems being installed will further increase the demand for products such as SeriesFour as IS discovers the need to link those systems to legacy data sources.
The SeriesFour product is now shipping. Pricing, which is based on the type of legacy system to be accessed, begins at $30,000.