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Java and Web Enabling java and web enabling

There a large number of packaged solutions available in the market which promise a complete and scalable solution to the problem of Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) of existing legacy systems and Enterprise Information Systems (EISs) with e-business applications.

I will be examining, for you, one of the tools, which seems to substantiate such claims to a relatively larger extent than the rest i.e. Java.

Or to be more specific, the Java2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE), the connector Architecture which, seems to be ideal for coming up with scalable, secure, and transactional resource adapters for a wide range of EISs providing options for ERP integration. E-business applications are moving to open and standards-based technologies. A growing number of Web applications package vendors are going for the J2EE specification as a result of an industry partnership and open community process led by Sun Microsystems. Whether this will lead to the chaos of another open source-like community or a monopoly, only time will tell, but the fact is that standards are evolving.

So now that we know what to use, let's have a look at how to use it. J2EE applications require a J2EE-compliant application server, such as IBM's WebSphere, BEA Systems' WebLogic, or IPlanet from the Sun/Netscape Alliance. The application servers come with an HTTP server, a database, and deployment tools. Because the servers comply with J2EE, they also provide support for additional services, including naming and access, resource pooling, transactions, and security. Because developers do not have to bother with low-level service details, it is easy to develop multi-tiered, distributed, scalable Java applications. J2EE services also help in customizing applications at deployment. The typical architecture for such a solution can be broken up into:

  • The data level
    Comprising of the legacy system and the database
  • The Business level
    A middle tier really comprising of maybe (depending on the ERP system) CORBA interfaces, the JDBC connectors and the EJB that provide a platform for the final level
  • The front end or presentation level
    The actual interface for the user which can take the form of servlets and JSPs for HTTP, Java applications or applets or even Corba clients

Some ideas on actual development

The next few lines may sound like a load of Greek to those of you who think Java stands for those relics on wheels but there are three approaches to development with J2EE connectors.

  • The application component could rely on an EAI framework for transactional access to SAP and an RDBMS or
  • The application component accesses a CICS transaction by programming directly to the CCI, the adapter provided or
  • The application component uses a J2EE connector specification-compliant JDBC driver to write JDBC SQL statements against an RDBMS. Of these, the second, developing directly with CCI can be the most complex.

The connector architecture specification is the result of a joint effort of representatives from BEA, Fujitsu, IBM, Inline, Inprise, IPlanet, Motorola, Oracle, SAP, Sun, Sybase, Tibco, and Unisys. A strong industry representation in the development of this specification suggests that a variety of application-development tools and EAI frameworks will soon become available.

IBM's VisualAge for Java includes an EAI framework called Common Connector Framework (CCF), which will form IBM's implementation of the J2EE Connector Architecture specification. VisualAge for Java provides a CCF-based tool called Enterprise Access Builder (EAB) that assists in developing record definitions and ultimately exposing an EIS function in the form of a JavaBean. The EAB can also be used to develop EJB-based access to various EISs. In short, the architecture, although just out, holds great promise for those interested in a dependable, economical, future-proof EAI solution.


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