Iona confident of success with Artix


21 Mar 2005

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Iona Technologies is looking to build on the positive performance of its middleware integration engine, Artix, when it launches the latest version of the product today.

According to Sean Baker, CTO and co-founder of Iona, Artix 3.0 incorporates substantial enhancements to its predecessor and should cement the progress made to date in building a product line that is separate from Iona’s traditional Corba-based business line, Orbix.

The company’s encouraging fourth quarter results, announced at the end of January, were partly attributed to the growing web services integration market, which is driving Artix’s revenues. During that quarter, Iona managed to sign up important new customers such as Deutsche Post and Marconi.

Such sales successes can only have a positive impact on the Artix business, felt Baker.
“You’ve got to get some of those high-fliers, some of those guys who are very, very fussy about the technology they use and get them to endorse your product. But there’s no such thing as an instant success. It takes time to build credibility and to get people to actually deploy your product and talk about it. One of the things I’m pleased about with Artix is that it hadn’t been going that long and yet we have quite a number of deployments.”

Baker stressed that Iona’s new focus on Artix did not mean that it would be neglecting its existing Orbix customers. “There’s no doubt that Artix [is different] and that it will make a separate contribution to our business over time. But we have to be very careful. We get up in the morning and say how much we love Corba. We constantly improve it and put it in directions that people want it to go. Nothing should change that.”

Artix is seen as a Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) play. SOA is a way of re-engineering software systems in order to remove a lot of the complexity or at least make it more manageable. Artix is described as ‘middleware for middleware’ – software that integrates the multiple middleware ‘islands’ that exist in many medium and large firms. A product performing this function is known in the web services industry as an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) and is most likely to be used in complex high transaction throughput environments, such as telcos and financial services firms.

As Iona already has many such customers already using Orbix, the company would naturally, said Baker, now be looking to encourage them to consider investing in Artix as well. In addition, the company would target totally new customers that it felt would benefit from deploying a system that could simplify and manage complex internal systems.

Artix 3.0 incorporates a number of important features, the main one being the continued enhancement of the ‘extensibility’ concept, which makes it easier for Artix to integrate or fuse with different middleware types or protocols.

“Not only do we have to be able to cater for the half dozen or ten common types of middleware, we need to allow that to be open so that if there’s some piece of middleware that we don’t support, there’s no reason why a third party or customer themselves can’t do it … [for this] we provide a framework which is populated with a lot of the solution already,” explains Baker, who added that a second important feature is that it provides a more conducive environment for developers.

Baker added that although sales of Artix are higher in the US than in Europe, they are only marginally so and he saw this as a sign that European businesses, traditionally slower to adopt leading edge technology, are starting to become more adventurous in their technology choices.

By Brian Skelly