Adopt and adapt better than rip and replace...

Developing with Legacy Systems – Part 1

HP is also a contributor to another move to shift existing legacy applications into the service-based world. Together with HP and Intel, Oracle used OracleWorld last year to launch the Application Modernisation Initiative, which sets out to analyse and assess an existing portfolio of mainframe applications and then propose a standards-based solution. This will run on a reference architecture built on HP/Intel hardware and management software together with Oracle’s database and applications, plus its Fusion Middleware and Grid Controller. In practice, this approach is only likely to appeal to existing Oracle-on-HP users and is as close as any to solving the legacy issue via the "rip and replace" approach.

A classic mainframe application environment is the 40-year-old Information Management System (IMS). This is still going strong, and still attracting specialist vendors such as Legacy Migration Solutions and Seagull Software, who are coming up with ways of integrating existing applications into web-based environments. Seagull already has an IMS integration offering, but its latest development, the LegaSuite IMS Gateway, bypasses the normal requirement of using IMS Connect to integrate IMS transactions. This means that it is now possible to integrate directly with interfaces such as XML, WSDL, Java Command Beans and .NET assemblies without requiring any additional IMS code.

Beyond technology

It is, perhaps, worth restating that one of the key reasons that any developer should be considering legacy integration options is in order to build the most appropriate and cost-effective solution to meeting new requirements in terms of doing business. This is why the integration of legacy applications is already moving on to a level beyond technical integration with the latest interface protocols and standards. There is, for example, now a growing requirement to ensure that the legacy functionality at the heart of past and current business processes can be fully integrated with future business processes, particularly as they develop to encompass more complex and diverse service requirements.

An example of this is a partnership deal struck last August between DataDirect and webMethods. The former is the data connectivity arm of Progress Software, which bought NEON Systems and its Shadow mainframe integration technology a year ago, while the latter specialises in business process integration. The objective is to provide an environment in which business processes that encompass both legacy mainframe and distributed web-based applications can be managed and monitored from a single point. The Shadow system is deployed directly onto the mainframe to provide not only web service integration but interoperability between multiple mainframe environments. As this mimics the capabilities of the increasingly common Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) technologies now forming the backbone of many SOA installations, the company has decided to dub it a `Mainframe Services Bus’.

And everyone wants to get on a bus these days…®

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