Seagull Boosts SOA Story with LegaSuite 5.0
Published: August 15, 2006
by Alex Woodie
At the SHARE enterprise computing conference in Baltimore, Maryland, yesterday, host integration software vendor Seagull Software unveiled the latest release of its flagship product, LegaSuite. Last week, Seagull announced it has joined the Integration Consortium, a non-profit organization dedicated to establishing standards, guidelines, and best practices for solving integration problems.
LegaSuite is a sprawling collection of software products designed to help IT shops modernize their legacy applications. Depending on the type of platform the legacy applications are running on--such as IBM iSeries, DEC VMS and Unix machines, Windows systems, or various mainframe operating systems, including VME, z/VSE, IMS, CICS, Ideal, and IDMS--Seagull offers a version of LegaSuite that includes all the components necessary to liberate those applications.
Over the years, Seagull has rebranded practically all of its core products under the LegaSuite umbrella, including the J Walk "screen-scraper," which is used by thousands of OS/400 shops and is now called LegaSuite GUI, and the Transidiom solution, which wraps legacy host datastreams like 5250 into XML, Java, or Microsoft .NET components, and is now called LegaSuite Integration.
At the top of the LegaSuite solution is a previously acquired business process management product called Transidiom BPM that includes a workflow modeler and an execution engine. Seagull's customers are still warming up to LegaSuite BPM and its capabilities to string together various predefined business processes with human elements, such as an approval mechanism, into a more complex workflow, or a "super service," as Seagull's executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Kim Addington, describes it. Customers that are more interested in stand-alone services, or "microflows" that reengineer one or several business process from a host system into a Web service, JavaBean, or .NET assembly can do so using the LegaSuite Workbench and the various "services builder" products sold with the platform-specific LegaSuite bundles.
With LegaSuite version 5.0, Seagull has added several new capabilities that will further its customers' service oriented architecture (SOA) plans. At the top of the list is a new integrated development environment that's based on IBM's Eclipse development framework. Seagull says the new Eclipse-based workbench provides a single IDE for designing all "service builder" connections, regardless of the platform or architecture.
Addington says the new Eclipse-based tooling allows LegaSuite customers to work in a familiar environment. "Our market maker is IBM with the mainframe and the iSeries, and a lot of customers have moved to Eclipse-based toolkits," she says.
The new version also brings support for bi-directional Web services. Not only can applications that have been modernized with LegaSuite generate Web services, but they can now be a consumer of Web services, too. This is significant because it is typically easier to create an application that can publish Web services than to create one that can correctly consume a Web service.
Seagull has also bolstered the LegaSuite runtime, and offers more flexibility in how customers can use it. The company says it now offers a "hybrid" runtime architecture that allows the LegaSuite server to run on native CICS, or a combination of native CICS and other systems (most likely Java-based Web application servers, although Seagull couldn't confirm this by press time). The company says the capability to offload XML parsing from host platforms is one of the benefits of its hybrid runtime environment.
The new CICS runtime benefits Seagull's mainframe customers, but iSeries customers do not have as much flexibility in the runtime. It's either running on the iSeries or off the iSeries (on some other Java-based server), Addington says.
Security has also been bolstered in this release through the addition of support for Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS). Support for the JAAS API should enable LegaSuite applications to access authentication services without being tied to those services. JAAS is important because it allows customers much more flexibility in how users are authenticated. For example, the technology can allow a given customer access to a certain business process, such as updating a policy in a policy management system, but deny access to related processes.
Addington says it's fitting that the company introduce the new version of Legasuite at SHARE. "LegaSuite is designed for mainframe shops that have valuable legacy applications in production and need non-invasive SOA interfaces, and SHARE is one of the premier gatherings of the mainframe pros who run those shops." While the company has a large base of iSeries customers, Seagull will not be exhibiting at the upcoming fall COMMON conference, scheduled for September 17-22 in Miami, Florida.
While Seagull is focusing on mainframes this week, the company has been enjoying much success among iSeries users, Addington says, particularly as it relates to sales of LegaSuite BPM, which is still in the first stages of the sales cycle.
"iSeries shops, compared to mainframe and VT [virtual terminal] users, are the most receptive of all of the platforms," she says. "iSeries users are used to black box thinking, whereas the mainframers have to look under the hood and understand exactly how it works. The iSeries market is more trusting of complete end-to-end solutions so we have a lot of traction and interest, but it's still in its infancy in terms of the sales cycle."
Part of the difficulty in selling BPM solutions--which Addington says represents the third-wave of the SOA cycle--is that BPM projects touch so many aspects and departments of a business, and not just the IT department. "The software is the easy part. Once you enable them to re-engineer their applications, then it's 'What do you want to change it to.' There are so many stakeholders . . . ," she says.
LegaSuite 5.0 is currently in limited release, and should be generally available by October. Development tool licenses start at $10,000 per seat, and runtime licenses are priced based on the number of CPUs.
In other news, Seagull announced it has joined the Integration Consortium, a group out of Vienna, Virginia, that is dedicated to the furtherance of integration knowledge. Seagull says being a member will help the company in several ways, including joint marketing opportunities and speaking opportunities at conferences and other events. Seagull will also be called on to help with the consortium's "knowledge repository" of integration articles, whitepapers, and case studies.
"As a major integration solution provider," says Integration Consortium chairman John Schmidt, "Seagull Software's expertise and vision in transforming legacy applications into SOA-compliant Web services will help guide consortium initiatives and ensure that enterprise integration solutions and activities address the full spectrum of integration requirements."
Seagull joins 74 other members of the Integration Consortium, including Above All Software, EAI Technologies, Fiorano Software, GT Software, Informatica, iWay Software, Software AG, and webMethods.