Cast Iron puts application integration in a box
Cast Iron iA3000 appliance simplifies EAI -- perhaps too much
Enterprise application integration can quickly take on nightmarish proportions: multiple applications requiring complex workflows, data that must change form from one app to another, and massive management snarls. Consequently, most EAI solutions are themselves fairly large and complicated.
Cast Iron Systems attempts to simplify things by packaging all the production components of an EAI system in one preconfigured server. The Cast Iron iA3000 v3.5 integration appliance concentrates on providing reliable automatic application integration in short-running machine-to-machine scenarios.
[Screencast: See the Cast Iron iA3000 in action in our new screencast demo]
It’s certainly easy to install, and the graphical mapping and workflow design tools are a boon to companies with limited IT resources. But the appliance format has its downside when it comes to scalability, and the focus on simplicity removes some features enterprises may find useful.
Connecting end points
The iA3000 is a 1U Dell PowerEdge 1850 with two 2.8GHz dual-core HT-enabled processors, giving it eight CPU threads; 4GB of RAM; RAID disk arrays; and dual, hot-swap power supplies. It runs Cast Iron’s own EAI application on top of Linux. Installation is a matter of putting the server in a rack, connecting it to the network and a serial console, and plugging in both power supplies. Very easy.
There is a separate Java IDE, Cast Iron Studio, for configuring end points, schemas, orchestrations, and mappings graphically from a Windows workstation. The Appliance also hosts a graphical WMC (Web management console) server, a telnet server, and a serial console, each providing access to a command-line interface.
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The iA3000 has four major functions: connecting to end points, transforming data, doing workflow, and managing the data flow. It does not attempt to provide a dashboard for business users, or a system for implementing long-running orchestrations with human approvals. Micrsoft’s BizTalk does these things, as do some of the other EAI products. CastIron chooses not to, stating that this functionality is for a relatively small market, which they are not trying to address because doing so would make their product more complicated.
Cast Iron Studio can create end points for a host of databases (with MySQL support planned for the next revision of the system), e-mail, FTP servers, Web servers, MQ, SAP, and Web services. Cast Iron supports a large number of line-of-business applications through Web service interfaces, database interfaces, XML file interfaces, or flat file interfaces. SAP’s BAPI/iDocs interface is a special case.