Red Oak Rides Eclipse to Application Integration Party
September 20, 2005 Dan Burger
Two things can be said about integrating legacy applications: a majority of companies have projects to accomplish integration and few can boast about achieving it. Legacy application integration can be executed in several ways. The most common is terminal emulation for the desktop or the Internet. Red Oak Software takes a different tactic. It creates its Web-to-host connectivity environment through a process referred to as programmatic integration. The company’s latest tool, built on the Eclipse framework, is called the Legacy Composer–Eclipse Edition.
Tools based on programmatic integration rely on data streams for their input, but they distinguish themselves from what many people know as screen scraper tools by allowing a greater degree of development. Most notably, they incorporate the capability to link multiple legacy screens and create new composite applications. In the case of Legacy Composer, users can develop, deploy and maintain access to legacy systems and data by automatically transforming host application functionality into legacy business objects–Java beans and web services–that can then be used in the integration process. That process includes legacy application transactions and data, but that is not to be confused with data integration, which is another technology. Legacy Composer concerns itself with production transactions.
Development within Eclipse and deployment via server-based implementations would have to be considered an evolutionary step forward from the Windows or Web browser GUI method, but in several important ways it seems more revolutionary than evolutionary.
Perhaps the greatest advantage is the opportunity for developers to use a workbench that includes a recorder and various visual editors that efficiently capture host application functionality and data. The Legacy Composer Workbench is implemented as an Eclipse feature plug-in and allows the developer full access to all the capabilities (editors, debuggers, and compilers, for instance) of the Eclipse development environment. It also provides users with access to the Eclipse Web Tools Platform, which provides automated deployment wizards for Web Services, J2EE projects, Java projects, and servlets.
At the end of the day, this provides faster, more efficient methods of converting legacy application functionality and data into reusable components and services.
Using a server-based runtime also led to the development of a higher-performing legacy-integration engine with the scalability to match large integration demands.
Red Oak has a long list of notable organizations in its installed base. Company president and chief executive officer, George Cummings, describes that base as “some of the most sophisticated IT organizations in the world.” The legacy system integrations that Red Oak has been involved with feature large and complex applications that are “strategically important components of the overall technology structure” of those companies.
Cummings has learned from these customers that 85 percent or more of the total cost of implementing a legacy solution is for system integration professional services. He says Legacy Composer was designed and developed with the idea of reducing the time, expense, and risk traditionally associated with integration projects.
These benefits are the direct result of being built on Eclipse. In terms of functionality, Legacy Composer is very similar to Red Oak’s Legacy Navigator product, which was introduced before Red Oak made the decision to back Eclipse based the belief that Eclipse would become the dominant development environment of the future.
Legacy Composer outperforms Legacy Navigator in terms of rapid prototyping of legacy transactions, testing of all integrations prior to production, and shorter deployment time when integrating to any service oriented architecture.
Because it is hooked into the Java-based Eclipse framework, it provides an integrated environment for the development of Java applications. In addition to editors, wizards, builders and debuggers, it features code-merging and re-factoring tools. The capabilities, along with a skillful developer, allow the conversion of existing legacy applications to J2EE applications or Web services. It also permits the direct deployment to any J2EE app server, the incorporation of composite applications, and the integration into a portal.
Legacy Composer directly supports the team versioning and control functions provided by Eclipse, enabling a team of developers to share projects and work collaboratively from within the same environment. Developers can also utilize the dynamic update capabilities provided by Eclipse to receive future updates without downloading and installing separate components.
In addition to Eclipse, Legacy Composer also supports IBM Rational Studio, Borland JBuilder, and Sun Microsystems NetBeans IDEs, as well as the major enterprise application systems and major EAI messaging systems.
Red Oak has priced the development server bundles beginning at $30,000. Production Server bundles start at $45,000. The prices provided are suggested retail prices for the United States. Dealer prices and prices outside the U.S. may vary and are subject to change without notice. All components of Legacy Composer are available immediately.