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CA goes after old business

Computer Associates forms a new division and launches a toolset designed to give a face-lift to older business applications.

Computer Associates (CA) today formed a new division and launched a toolset designed to give a face-lift to older business applications.

CA's Infresco unit, a 60-person start-up based in Sarasota, Florida, will develop and market Opal, a tool designed to renew and integrate a variety of so-called legacy applications, such as older client-server, mainframe and Unix-based applications, with what CA calls a next-generation user interface. Opal serves as both the development tool and the graphical interface to the applications.

Version 1.0 of Opal runs on and deploys applications on Microsoft Windows 95 and NT. However, the tool will not integrate Web-based applications. Those capabilities will be delivered in a second release of the tool scheduled to ship later next year, said Marc Sokol, senior vice president of advanced technology at CA.

Sokol said Opal differs from conventional tools, known as "screen scrapers," which are commonly used to give character-based mainframe applications a graphical interface. Opal "lets you build multimedia applications that scrape mainframe applications and invoke any Windows program," he said. The tool also includes database access through support for the Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) application programming interface.

Opal differs from other tools in its appearance. Sokol said developers at Infresco, who also developed CA's consumer software, have given the tool multimedia features that "generate apps that look more like games or free-form multimedia applications."

CA is hoping the jazzy look will appeal to developers seeking a fresh look for their applications. Opal, shipping now, is priced at $995 per developer and at $995 per license.