JDJ: Can you give us a little background on Blue Lobster and then jump into Stingray and Mako?
Henning: Blue Lobster was started to help people access and leverage data that is resident on their mainframes in the Web world. Where did we get that name? Blue Lobsteršs founders were from IBM, Big Bluethe Lobster is a visual metaphor for the mainframeboth the mainframe and the lobster have a forbidding outer shell yet there is tasty data in the middle. Blue Lobster is different from traditional Web and host solutions in that we are really concentrated on helping people build e-commerce and online customer support applications.
Stingray handles terminal-based applications on the mainframe that you can get only through the 32/70 presentation layer. Stingray produces Java objects that encapsulate screen navigation, and getting and setting of data with the mainframe applications, and so you get reusable objects that can be hosted on the server side. And they effectively separate the business logic from the presentation logic for use in applications in e-commerce.
Mako handles different types of applications on the mainframe. Some applications actually allow you to go directly to the transaction rather than through the presentation layer of the application. If you look at a typical CICS application on the mainframe, it has a 32/70 presentation layer, but itšs integrated with a number of underlying CICS transactions that can be accessed directly through an API like EXCI or ECI. These applications are really hard to Web-enable because traditionally the applications themselves, the transactions, and the data input and output format are written in COBOL.
What Mako does is give developers a COBOL expert system that automatically maps transactions and the associated input and output data, which is typically stored in COBOL paper books, directly to a Java representation. We also have a server component that can be used at runtime that will allow the mapping to take place between COBOL and Java. All our products are built as 100% Pure Java and produce JavaBeans that make it really quick to get your applications out on the Web.
JDJ: Do Mako and Stingray work together?
Henning: &127;&127;You can use the objects that come from Mako and Stingray together. Typically, if you look at an e-commerce application, youšre going to have people who want to cull from many mainframe data sources so you might have a couple of Stingray objects that are encapsulating transactions with a terminal base application and then you might also use the Mako product to encapsulate some direct access to CICS transactions. You write some new business logic on the server to build the commerce application that uses this data. You might even incorporate some middle-tier data sources like an SQL server database. So they work very well together.
JDJ: Can you give us a real-time example of how it is being used and maybe tell us who is using it?
Henning: Davis Vision built an online e-commerce application for their subscribers and member doctors to purchase glasses, contact lenses, etc. They wanted to streamline that process and put it on the Web so they could give better service. They incorporated Stingray to record transactions with the CICS applications on their mainframe. When they did that they got Java Legacy business objects that would represent these transactions and put them through a Java registration process to create COM objects. When their members access this application, they are given an active server page through a Microsoft Web server that allows them to get to the main business logic of the application. Requests for services and orders for glasses are stored and forwarded to the Stingray-generated Legacy business objects and then they interact with the mainframe application directly, storing the data onto the mainframe databases and the results are passed back through Stingray and served up as straight HTML to the consumers of the services. It has been a really successful architecture for them, and it could only have been built with a product like Stingray that supports server-side applications.