A Framework for Next Generation Enterprise Application Integration
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In addition to storing 70-75% of their data and business logic in legacy mainframe systems, global corporations have countless custom applications and off-the-shelf ERP products residing within their networks. Increasing competition and shrinking budgets have left managers scouring for innovative, cost-effective methods to maximize the potential of these enormous sunk costs. There is, as a result, an overwhelming need to not only web enable these existing legacy assets in order to quickly and cost-effectively deliver data to both customers and business partners alike, but also to amalgamate these disparate systems into a unified, homogeneous, real-time enterprise. Integration efforts to date, focused predominantly on the development of proprietary point-to-point adapters, have unfortunately proven to be a daunting task with countless failed projects and losses in the millions. The advent of XML web services does, however, have the potential to revolutionize existing integration strategies; the cost savings and ease of implementation associated with wrapping virtually all systems, past, present and future, with standardized, code-independent, data-centric interfaces is truly astounding. As the future success of this platform is, however, strictly dependent upon the interoperability of its endpoints, we have proposed several fundamental amendments to the existing flawed WSDL specification. A generic reference architecture, leveraging both this improved web services model as well as established component middleware technologies, is then proposed for the web enablement of legacy assets on an enterprise scale. In order to ensure the adoption of this methodology, a toolkit designed to automate the transformation has also been devised. This new paradigm will not only allow information to flow freely from deep within the enterprise, but will ultimately serve as the cornerstone of a new generation of enterprise integration solutions.