Actional Upgrades Integration App

Actional Corp. is looking to make connecting front- and back-end systems easier

Actional Corp. is looking to make connecting front- and back-end systems easier. The Mountain View, Calif., company last week upgraded ACB (Actional Control Broker) with scalability and functional enhancements that enable corporations to integrate front-office, back-office and legacy systems at the data level without inserting centralized Enterprise Application Integration middleware.

ACB 3.0 adds Scalability Manager, which allows for greater scalability and higher transaction loads. A Result Caching feature dynamically retrieves results as needed from back-end applications and caches them on an as-needed basis, and an Adaptive Fault Tolerance mode guarantees replies to customer service processes regardless of the state of an application network.

A Connection Farming addition enables enterprise applications that were originally based on client/server architectures to run in concert with multiple-tier, Web-scale architectures. A new Dynamic Routing function enables ACB end users to determine the routing of messages and requests and to implement them with no coding changes, according to the company.

ACB 3.0s new business-to-business security feature provides a publishing engine that can monitor changes in any ACB-connected system and publish those changes via its routing engine.

Actional bills itself as an integrator that doesnt require IT managers to lock in new middleware infrastructure or rebuild their applications from scratch. That appealed to Andy Morrison, director of strategic architecture for Sabre Inc., which is implementing ACB 2.5 to create data outputs from its proprietary system without writing a lot of new code.

"The problem is the system is Sabre-proprietary, and we had to pass output of functions in a more reasonable manner," Morrison said. "We had to figure out a way to go in without writing a bunch of code. If we went into every legacy system and rewrote it to be CORBA-functional, it would be way too expensive and time- consuming."

While Actional marketing boasts a nine- to 12-week implementation time for most enterprise applications, Morrison has been implementing ACB 2.5 for almost a year and has a planned launch date this month.

Despite the length of the deployment, Morrison said he has shaved some major man-hours from the integration project.

"Once we actually got down to it, its taken us nine months, end to end," said Morrison, in Fort Worth, Texas. "Its not all tied up in Actional; we had to do some plumbing work to make [our code] available to the Actional product—so there was three months of our work. Six months has been definition, construction and testing."

Improvements in scalability, security and response time will be important additions for Inc., which uses ACB 2.5 as middleware between its front-end Web sites and back-end SAP AG modules.

"Any enhancements [to these areas] would be beneficial to us," said Jimmy McCullough, vice president and CIO at eCompany-, of Alpharetta, Ga.