Competitive case studies

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Content Copyright © 2007 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

It’s always cool when you can make a sale to a competitor. However, it is by no means easy to publicise that fact. For example, I know of one ETL (extract, transform and load) vendor that deploys an ETL tool from a competitor within its own development shop. And no, I won’t tell you who.

Hats off to InterSystems then for having an IBM case study on its site that describes how IBM has implemented InterSystems Caché instead of any of its own databases for a system called FocalPoint to be used by the company’s hardware support division. And given that IBM has DB2, Informix, both the U2 databases (UniVerse and Unidata), and various other offerings then this is saying something. And since Caché was also chosen because of its integrated development environment then the fact that Rational was not selected either, says even more.

Actually, what this is all saying is that, for this particular project, IBM needed a different type of approach from a conventional relational paradigm, and while you can read the case study for yourself one of the key features of Caché that decided IBM to opt for InterSystems was the use of a new technology known as Jalapeňo, which is a feature of InterSystems Caché 2007, the latest release of the product that should be shipping by the end of 2006.

What Jalapeňo does is to take “plain old Java objects” (POJO) and allows you (you don’t have to, you can mark classes as required) to automatically persist these without any need for object/relational mapping. You then simply compile and run the results. According to IBM it takes about 15 minutes. There is a plug-in for Eclipse so that you can do this directly from that environment and the developer does not need to know anything about how Caché works. Actually, you can also deploy Jalapeňo against relational databases if you want to (though you will still be licensing Caché), though you will lose the performance benefits you would get with Caché (because you will have to do object/relational mapping).

The other major new feature (there are lots of smaller ones) of Caché 2007 is the introduction of Zen. This is best described as a superset of AJAX (asynchronous JavaScript and XML). Zen offers all that AJAX does: it is asynchronous including providing support for incremental page updates; it uses JavaScript in the browser except that there is no installation required because Caché uses a shared object client/server data model with the page defining both server- and client-side methods, and both the server and browser accessing data via the object model; and it uses XML for page definition.

In addition, Zen extends AJAX in three further ways. First, it is multi-lingual: base language text is automatically extracted by the Zen compiler and the local language is then delivered dynamically at run-time. Secondly, the environment is extensible: InterSystems delivers a number of pre-built components that are themselves classes, each of which can be extended or customised, while you can also customise through sub-classing. Thirdly, there is extended security support with Zen offering declarative access control at both the page and component levels, plus the ability to automatically synchronise with database level security.

To conclude: congratulations to InterSystems for both of these new capabilities and for winning IBM as a client. But congratulations to IBM too, for being big about it.