Cast Iron Systems

Application integration via an appliance

Cast Iron Systems Mountain View, Calif.

Location:Mountain View, Calif.

Company name: Intended to connote simplicity and utility, like the cookware.

How did the company start? Founded in July 2001 by George Scott and Nikhyl Singhal, both formerly of online bartering company WebSwap and application development vendor Borland; and Samir Mitra, formerly of collaboration vendor Zaplet and Sun. The trio's intent was to make the application integration chore less cumbersome.

Funding: $20.3 million, including a $12-million third round that closed in January.

CEO: Fred Meyer, former chief strategy officer at Tibco Software.

Products: Application Router 1000, an application integration appliance.

Application integration via an appliance

The toils of application integration are well documented. Vendors with tools to help solve these integration woes crowd the market, from stalwarts such as IBM, Tibco and webMethods that have message-brokering roots, to relative newcomers like Composite Software, which focuses on data integration, and Grand Central Communications, with its Web services-based delivery model.

Cast Iron differentiates itself with its hardware approach and focus on lightweight integration projects, such as connecting business applications with different protocols and data formats. The Application Router 1000 appliance lets users share data among databases, enterprise applications, XML data sources, legacy systems and flat files.

"We're about getting data from Point A to Point B - orchestrating it, transforming it and keeping track of it," Meyer says. That's all the majority of integration projects require, he says. Typically, the effort involved in configuring a system to run traditional enterprise application integration (EAI) middleware "completely overwhelms the complexity of the actual integration you're trying to do," he adds.

Cast Iron leaves integration projects that require state management to the heavyweight EAI players - vendors with which Cast Iron might someday partner, Meyer says. That distinction amounts to the difference between transforming customer information stored in one database into a data format that target systems can read and process, and orchestrating a complex transaction that requires each step be executed, validated and documented in association with earlier steps.

The Application Router 1000, a rack-mountable appliance featuring two Ethernet data ports and one management port, runs Cast Iron's Linux-based operating system software. With the Application Router's management console, users can identify internal issues such as a fan that needs repair, and trace where in the network a transaction stalled. The appliance became generally available in July 2003.

The Application Router 2000, due in May, is aimed at companies that want to build networks of integration routers. The upgraded model will offer more sophisticated management and monitoring capabilities, and compression features, Meyer says.

Cast Iron has 14 customers, including British American Tobacco and Solectron. The Application Router 1000 ranges in price from $30,000 to $100,000.

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