Stanley Works, a $2.6 billion supplier of tools and hardware, has been testing Attachmate's Smart Connectors for the past six months on a project to connect customer-service representatives with inventory data stored on back-end IBM midrange and mainframe servers. "With Smart Connectors, we created a Soap connection that can query multiple back-end systems," says K.C. Jones, .Net architect for Stanley Works.
While Attachmate's tools aren't a comprehensive application-integration solution, they're a way to quickly automate transaction mapping from the back-end application to the user's desktop, Jones says. Such quick integration will play an increasingly important role at Stanley Works as the company assimilates the IT systems of Best Lock Corp., a provider of security systems it acquired Monday for $310 million in cash.
Attachmate offers a variety of Smart Connectors, including 3270 for IBM mainframes, 5250 for IBM midrange systems, and UTS and T27 for Unisys mainframes. Additional connectors are available for accessing CICS and IBM transactions directly. Each connector is priced at $65,000 per server CPU.
While Smart Connectors are useful tools for companies that have the bulk of their data in legacy applications, "they shouldn't be seen as a replacement for a full application-integration strategy," says Sharyn Leaver, a Forrester Group analyst. Attachmate's product will serve companies looking to quickly connect applications without making changes to legacy systems, but products and services from companies such as BEA Systems, Tibco Software, and webMethods will continue to offer comprehensive application integration. The market will decide which method of application integration is more popular. Leaver says, "Right now, there aren't a lot of companies doing full integration."