Legacy data on tap

Companies with deep roots in extracting data from host and legacy systems for Web applications are moving to expose data from this “last mile of connectivity” as Web services.

WRQ Inc. this week will unveil support for Web services designed to combine existing business logic from a wide variety of enterprise systems, including host and legacy, without duplicating or rewriting code.

Meanwhile, Attachmate has begun a controlled release to existing customers of its smart connectors designed to make legacy data and logic available as XML-based Web services with support for SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol). Attachmate has integrated this technology to extend the reach of Microsoft Corp.’s BizTalk and BEA Systems Inc.’s WebLogic servers by providing a link to information and applications on the mainframe.

“Web services in theory says, ‘I’m just going to ask you to do something for me, [and] I don’t care whether you have a mainframe, or a PC, or a monkey with an abacus,'” said analyst Phil Murphy, a director at Giga Information Group Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. “Web services will bolster the value of host computers for the foreseeable future.”

WRQ’s Verastream product will now allow customers to turn any legacy business function into a Web service in less than an hour, said Mike New, director of integration for Seattle-based WRQ.

“We can literally drag and drop those different business functions together to create processes,” New said. “You don’t have to write code.”

Attachmate’s technology features business rules inside the smart connectors as opposed to tapping the “hub and spoke” messaging-based system of some other vendors, said Markus Nitschke, senior director of marketing at Bellevue, Wash.-based Attachmate. “In our case, we say we want the rules and the intelligence as close as possible to the source,” Nitschke said. “You only transmit relevant data across the network.”

However, legacy data was never meant to be manipulation by Web services, argues Giga’s Murphy. “Once you add the overhead of Web services [to a green screen interface], does the whole package weigh too much to fly?”