CATEGORY: Data Acquisition, Transformation & Replication

REVIEWER: Marc Lennox, manager of strategic technology for Mxi Technologies.

BACKGROUND: Mxi Technologies specializes in software development for aviation maintenance management, bringing together leading-edge information technology expertise with knowledge and experience in the aviation sector. Mxi's Maintenix product suite is used by large-scale aviation and aerospace organizations. Mxi also provides Maintenix installation, systems integration, training, support, customization and other services.

PLATFORMS: The Maintenix engine runs on Microsoft Windows NT and 2000, as well as Solaris-based hardware.

PROBLEM SOLVED: When customers began requesting Web functionality for Mxi's Maintenix product, Mxi began seeking an advanced application server with open architecture that would optimize Maintenix features and accessibility on the Internet. Mxi required quick, easy implementation while sustaining the existing infrastructure. The goal was to embed that system in the Maintenix product, attaining technical competitive advantage in the marketplace and maximizing state-of-the-art Web-based product availability.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Sybase EAServer helped Mxi migrate from its original two- tier product to a more flexible n-tier architecture providing Web functionality. Via EAServer, Maintenix currently integrates enterprise resource planning (ERP), financials, supply chain management, purchasing and inventory, flight planning and dispatch, online technical publications and airline operations control, all in a Web-based environment that allows access to remote locations. Mxi uses EAServer to offer online engineering services and facilitate online setup, installation, configuration and support for clients. Mxi is in the process of implementing a new release, EAServer 4.0. To date, EAServer 4.0 has allowed Mxi to develop a new Web-based Maintenix release using the best-in-class features of Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE). Mxi plans to embed EAServer 4.0 as the hub of its new n-tier Internet architecture, with the application server and databases in the central location or worldwide central locations and client applications viewed primarily as Java server pages. The plan is to implement EAServer 4.0 and use the features in subsequent Maintenix releases.

STRENGTHS: One of the best on the market in terms of scalability and performance, EAServer allows Maintenix development to move forward on the new Java platform. EAServer's open architecture facilitates smooth, quick integration of component-based aircraft maintenance software with customers' legacy and newer third-party systems. EAServer supports a comprehensive list of application programming interfaces (APIs). By integrating disparate data systems with Maintenix, EAServer helps Mxi complete complex installations quickly. EAServer also performs exceptionally well, processing thousands of transactions each day through Web-based Maintenix component-ware. Mxi offers worldwide scalability and flexibility by providing autonomous databases at remote sites through EAServer.

WEAKNESSES: Sybase currently focuses mainly on EAServer integration with the Sybase suite. Mxi would like Sybase to enhance and emphasize EAServer's outstanding technical merits as a standalone product instead so Mxi can be certain its investment will be developed and supported on an ongoing basis.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Mxi required a high-bandwidth server system that minimized downtime and avoided the setbacks involved in building from scratch. A server fully compliant with J2EE, Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) and PowerBuilder development environments was needed. Mxi sought an n-tier architecture with open database support using Java database connectivity to support integration with Maintenix's Oracle database, legacy systems and major vendors.

DELIVERABLES: EAServer provides a flexible, reliable server system for Maintenix product availability and transactions on the Web, as well as a feature-rich development environment for future Maintenix releases.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The ongoing two-way relationship with Sybase has been very positive for Mxi. Mxi did not require pre-implementation support, but did benefit from post-implementation services such as access to the Sybase team for complex issues. The best part of working with Sybase has been the responsiveness and availability of experts working actively on issues raised by Mxi and communicating regularly to keep Mxi aware of new release features and changes.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation improved with EAServer 4.0, and the product could easily be run using this documentation alone.

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