Back in the old days (by this, I mean the 1990’s), when we wanted to integrate BPM with a legacy mainframe system, it was messy. In the worst cases, we wrote explicit screen-scraping code to interact with green screens; sometimes we were lucky enough to be able to hook a message queue or interact directly with the underlying mainframe database. Much of the development was tedious and time-consuming, as well as requiring a lot of manual maintenance when anything changed on the legacy side: sometimes I used to think that the mainframe developers intentionally changed things just to mess up our code. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for keeping the mainframes in there as super-charged application and database servers, but don’t let the users anywhere near them.
These days, there’s a number of tools around to make integration with legacy mainframe systems easier, and although I don’t write code any more, I have a passing interest since most of my customers are financial services organizations that still have a lot of that legacy stuff lying around.
Strangely enough, the impetus for finally writing about the legacy integration tools that I’ve looked at came because of a conversation that I had recently with Sandra Wade, a senior director of product marketing at Software AG, even though we didn’t talk much about their product’s technical capabilities and I didn’t get a demo. Their announcement back in March was a repackaging of mostly existing applications into their Application Modernization Suite, which has three basic flavors:
- The web edition is webMethods ApplinX, which allows you to web-enable green-screen applications.
- The SQL edition uses the webMethods ConnecX adapters to provide unified, SQL-based access across heterogeneous data sources, including non-relational sources.
- The SOA edition bundles ApplinX, webMethods EntireX, webMethods ESB and CentraSite to provide everything required to service-enable legacy applications, including governance.
Although I saw some of the underlying applications when I attended IntegrationWorld last November, I tend to focus more on briefings and sessions when I’m at a conference, so don’t have a really good feeling for the functionality of ApplinX and EntireX, and how they help to web- and service-enable mainframe applications.
I was going to include all three vendors in a single post, but will follow this one with separate posts about OpenSpan and Metastorm Integration Manager so that it doesn’t get too unwieldy.