looksoftware Building SOA Capabilities
Published: April 4, 2006
by Dan Burger
Service oriented architecture received top billing at the COMMON Spring 2006 IT Education Conference and Expo last week in Minneapolis. The educational sessions were loaded with SOA topics, keynote addresses were flavored with SOA comments, and vendors (IBM in particular) lauded their products for taking the SOA approach. One SOA product that has been introduced since the last COMMON conference is soarchitect from looksoftware, the Australian company with the aversion to using capital letters.
As you may or may not know, the key to service oriented architecture is its emphasis on systems interoperability. As organizations struggle with proprietary servers and databases that prohibit--or at the very least, hinder--the exchange of data internally and externally, the promise of SOA is that it is an avenue to sharing information.
The soarchitect product from looksoftware, which has been generally available for two months, has been designed to help iSeries shops adopt SOA concepts. It takes RPG and COBOL applications and splits them into components taken from the presentation layers, the application layers, and the data layers. These business processes can then be accessed independently using Web services.
The latest enhancement to soarchitect is a feature looksoftware refers to as an intelligent transaction recorder. Its purpose is to simplify the process of exposing Web services from existing applications, and by doing so provide customers (primarily independent software vendors at this point in the evolution of SOA) with an easier path to building new composite, and interoperable, applications.
Because almost any reuse of multiple green-screen applications--especially those that trigger new events--requires code-intensive scripting, the benefit of the intelligent transaction recorder is in reducing and eliminating steps in the scripting process. This is the most labor-intensive aspect of all application modernization projects. Making this easier is the goal of looksoftware, as it is with all the other vendors that are tackling this task.
Marcus Dee, president of looksoftware, says the recorder is being used now "in real projects," but it will not be generally available until June or July when the company plans to also release several product enhancements to its newlook product suite.
soarchitect is designed to work with other looksoftware products, including centric, which is used for application and database integration and Web services consumption; newlook, its GUI design tool and 5250 agent; and lookserver, a new integration run-time environment.
The latest application modernization product from LANSA, a product called RAMP, makes use of soarchitect. LANSA and looksoftware are business partners.
Dee began guiding his company toward Web services three years ago. He believes Web services and SOA will become increasingly important to iSeries shops as they modernize their applications, and he expects IBM to play a big role in increasing the awareness level of SOA.
Although IBM tends to emphasize the role of WebSphere in SOA, there are many non-WebSphere options as well. The architecture relies primarily upon HTTP and XML. Any Web server and any Web development tools can be used.
Looksoftware claims approximately 1,500 companies in 45 countries around the world are using its products.