CA updates tool for modifying business applications –

Computer Associates International Inc. yesterday released an upgraded version of a software tool that lets business managers modify applications as corporate needs change, adding a Web-based user interface and other new features to the package.

The Aion 9.0 tool, which grew out of CA's 1999 acquisition of Platinum Technology Inc., can also be integrated with the Islandia, N.Y.-based vendor's Neugents predictive-analysis technology and its Jasmine ii application development and e-business software.

Neugents, a neural-network-based technology that uses advanced pattern-recognition and neural network techniques to find patterns within large amounts of data, can be called from within Aion applications to supply business-related predictions, CA said. In turn, the predictions can be used to determine how to change existing applications.

The Aion software is aimed not at IT workers but at business managers who want to change the business rules built into their corporate applications. For example, Carpenter Technology Corp., an alloy manufacturer in Reading, Pa., is using the tool to develop a consistent approach for updating business rules related to order entry and other internal processes.

When that work was done manually, Carpenter "had people trying to remember all the different steps needed to manufacture a particular product," said Kathleen Nevel, manager of technical services systems at the company. With Aion, she added, business rules are kept in a database and can be reused or updated whenever changes have to be made in functions such as the way products are routed through Carpenter's manufacturing plants.

CPI Corp., a portrait studio chain based in St. Louis that operates more than 1,000 retail outlets, has bought the Aion technology to help interpret sales data and other business information sent in by its stores on a daily basis. The tool is expected to help CPI's business managers "to see what products we have that are actually being used in the stores and how they're used," said Steve Skinner, a technology specialist at the company.

The software also should help "make sure all the basic business rules we have are enforced," Skinner added. In addition, CPI expects to use Aion to monitor the rules built into its systems to measure whether the Internet could be better utilized in gathering the business data from the stores, he said.

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