Combining Apps Made Easy

iSpheres and Acta Technology develop software to speed integration of dissimilar applications

iSpheres Corp. and Acta Technology Inc. have introduced software designed to make integration of disparate applications quicker. iSpheres last week launched itself and its flagship product, MetaApp Framework, a lightweight integration tool that lets developers create business optimization software that draws functions from enterprise applications within and outside a companys IT infrastructure.

Separately, Acta, of Mountain View, Calif., this month began shipping ActaWorks 5.0, the latest version of its data movement and management server, as well as two adapter kits.

iSpheres MetaApp Framework enables the development of so-called meta applications that troll Web and non-Web applications, services and documents for bits of information. It then transforms that information into reusable components that detect, respond to and take action on specified business events, according to officials at the Oakland, Calif., company.

The MetaApp Framework engine drills down and gathers information from an application—say, an enterprise resource planning system—or a suppliers Web site, compartmentalizes the information and dumps it into a central repository, and from that generates actionable events.

MetaApp Framework uses standard Java integrated development environments, and the resulting meta applications are deployed on Java 2 Enterprise Edition-compliant application servers.

The iSpheres software provides four distinct functions. First, it couples applications and abstracts application services from them to generate reusable components. Then a second feature creates reusable components from new or existing application services and connects them to define event-response interactions.

An automatic detection and response system detects events spanning applications and organizations and routes them to the appropriate meta application components. Finally, an adaptive interaction component extracts semistructured content and normalizes it to the component interface model.

The adaptive interactive function was particularly attractive to Mike Milton, senior director of product marketing in the Infinite Content business unit of i2 Technologies Inc.

Dallas-based i2 licensed iSpheres MetaApp Framework to add outside search and punch-out capabilities to an upgrade of its DKM (Discovery Knowledge Manager), which is used by e-marketplace participants to find information on items for sale.

With the MetaApp engine embedded in the DKM upgrade, customers will be able to go to distributed content sources, get item and company information residing at other sites, and bring the information back to a single DKM user interface.

"With iSpheres, [customers] are able to go out and bring information into the fold as if its all local," Milton said.

Meanwhile, ActaWorks 5.0, the core component in the Acta Data Integration Platform, includes a new messaging architecture and adapter framework for enterprisewide extensibility.

A Web-based administration tool allows for monitoring, scheduling and recovery of data movement jobs. The software also includes batch control and real-time performance enhancements for data flows, as well as a multiuser environment that allows developers to share their work across the enterprise.

In addition, Acta released the ActaWorks Adapter software development kit for creating messaging interfaces, as well as the ActaWorks eCache SDK for creating data caches.