San Jose-based WebPutty has released version 5.0 of its Flexibility Platform. The software is designed to make it easier and more cost-effective for enterprises to build, manage, integrate and change their applications.
In particular, the company offers a studio that should let non-technical business analysts change a particular component of an application, secure in the knowledge that the change will be propagated to every relevant component of the system.
Context: WebPutty was founded in 1997 and funded by Bain Capital Ventures, SAC Capital and Seneca Capital. The company was helping customers build distributed applications when the founders became concerned about how difficult it was to change, for example, an ERP installation. To make a single change -- to a price, for example -- administrators often had to implement that price change in many places in the application, on many different machines, in many locations and in many languages.
The company came up with a new approach. It built detailed blueprints of running applications in order to map relationships and dependencies between different parts of the system.
"This model is really the crown jewels of how WebPutty works," executive VP of market development Terry Hanold told the451. "Our strength is the detail to which we understand distributed applications."
Technology: WebPutty Flexibility Platform is now in release 5.0, with three main modules -- Server, Development and Interoperability. The Server executes flexible applications, interoperability and Web services. It abstracts plumbing and operating system details away from the applications. It handles XML and SOAP natively. Development Suite adds studios for developers and business analysts to build and modify WebPutty applications.
The Interoperability Suite is the clever part. It comprises WebPutty's Discovery feature, which makes external applications, objects, data sources and services appear as native WebPutty elements. When those elements change, WebPutty rediscovers them and automatically propagates the change.
At the database level, it supports Oracle, DB2 and SQL Server. There are partners in place for mainframe and legacy systems. At the logic level, the system can handle COM objects, EJBs, CORBA ORBs and .NET assembly, and can even understand applications by interrogating UML.
Competition: Systems like Perforce and Collabnet's SourceCast handle change from the point of view of the source code. The new generation of application development companies -- everyone from AltoWeb and Avinon to The Mind Electric, Neuvis, Polarlake, Shinka, Systinet and Wakesoft -- have some overlap in mindshare with WebPutty.
A couple of application management companies, notably Relicore and Troux, are working on the dependency-mapping component. Meanwhile, Bowstreet makes very similar claims for the change propagation capability of its parametric modeling technology.
Hanold argues that Bowstreet equips companies for foreseeable change. "The predictable stuff is not what kills your business," he said. "We let you deal with forecastable and unplanned change."
WebPutty is also useful for building composite applications by tying EJBs to COM objects to Oracle or SQL Server databases. Its plumbing code in C# is rendered into .NET's common language interface (CLI) -- a big difference from most competitors, which have chosen the J2EE route to Web services.
Conclusion: Why .NET? It turns out that Hanold is himself a former Microsoft executive, having been acquired along with pioneering Java company DimensionX in May 1997. WebPutty's ability to lower the total cost of ownership of applications makes it a very attractive partner to Microsoft as the software giant tries to push the claims of .NET against J2EE.
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