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You have WebSphere Application Server and want to do something with it. You're not sure where to start with WebSphere because you have scant Java skills in house and your entire portfolio of applications is written procedurally in COBOL and/or RPG. The challenge you face with WebSphere centers around accessing and managing transaction logic that is trapped in a Web-resistant architecture and sharing those business processes with the component-based world of e-business. This challenge associated with WebSphere is called legacy integration.

WebSphere -- How Far Should You Go?

It's great to integrate, and there are a number of ways to go about it with WebSphere. You can try to re-engineer your applications into components or fragments of logic, or you can leverage them as they currently exist. The way that makes sense for you is most likely the way that's fastest and least costly, but also one that utilizes your WebSphere Application Server to its fullest potential. Providing a COM, ActiveX, or even a Java API to your legacy applications is better than rewriting, but WebSphere Application Server is an enterprise architecture built to maximize Enterprise Java Beans. Why not go the distance and package your legacy business processes as EJBs? Jacada Integrator can get you there without rewriting, re-engineering, scripting, or outsourcing. Here's how.

The Multi-tier Approach

The Jacada Integrator method for unlocking transactions that are buried in legacy applications involves a technique called Multi-tier Application Modeling. This approach is non-invasive and works with legacy screen datastreams. The beauty of a screen-based approach is that it requires no rework to the host application, making it a risk-free method for exploiting the transaction integrity you've engineered into the application over time. The multi-tier method extends screen scraping by introducing an intermediate tier between the legacy application and the client process, enabling the legacy screen data streams to be modeled and managed on the application server. By taking this approach, we fully isolate the screen-based processes from the client application, in effect turning them into services available to a client developer.

Jacada Integrator automates the process of capturing and packaging screen-based transactions with a recording device called MapMaker. MapMaker transitions legacy application screens into Java logic by creating a map of the host application that consists of the application screens, the navigational information required to traverse through a sequence of screens, and the tags and fields included on each legacy screen. This information is stored in Java class files produced within MapMaker that are implemented as Java services. Jacada Integrator then provides a means for packaging MapMaker services as Enterprise Java Beans. MapMaker EJBs are stateful session beans conforming to EJB 1.1 specifications as defined in the J2EE standard.

MapMaker-generated services are implemented using WebSphere's deployment tool, which packages additional EJB configuration properties within XML files. Before deploying the EJB in WebSphere, an EJB jar containing several Java classes must be created. Jacada Integrator comes equipped with the Java classes required for populating the jar. Jacada recommends extending these furnished classes to accommodate reuse in varying implementations. The final step is to configure WebSphere with the appropriate classpath and command line information. This is done using the WebSphere Advanced Administrator Console and following step by step instructions detailed in the Jacada Integrator User Guide.

Find out more about Jacada Integration and Automation (JIA).

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