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Desktop Integration: The last mile for SOA

Having the latest SOA, Ajax and Web 2.0 applications on your desktop doesn't mean they will be integrated, argues OpenSpan CEO.

Having Web services, service-oriented architecture (SOA), Ajax and Web 2.0 technology doesn't necessarily mean that end users will find all the applications they use integrated on their desktop, says Francis Carden, CEO of OpenSpan Inc., a desktop integration vendor.

We consider ourselves as the last mile for SOA because we are delivering the ability to take an old legacy application...and add a Web service to it.
Francis Carden
CEOOpenSpan Inc.

"Users typically have too many applications on their desktops that are not integrated," he argues. "The same is true today as it was 20 years ago when we had the first GUI applications sitting along side green screen applications."

In Carden's view, each generation of technology has been touted as the solution to all integration problems but buzz words haven't changed the situation that much.

Carden's company used to specialize in achieving such desktop integration with hand coding, but it was a long, expensive process to get all the applications on a corporate Windows desktop to communicate with each other. Now, he is offering a platform that, he says incorporates the lessons learned doing things the hard way into a platform with visual tools designed to make desktop integration easier.

The OpenSpan Platform enables developers to build Web services into their integrations, automations, and composite applications "just as easily as if they were Windows, Java, mainframe, or Web application objects," Carden said. An OpenSpan SOA Module enables Web services to be interrogated and normalized within OpenSpan Studio so that they can be consumed in a repeatable fashion.

"We consider ourselves as the last mile for SOA because we are delivering the ability to take an old legacy application, old being anything written more than five minutes ago, and add a Web service to it," he said.

As an example, he said the tool can be used to integrate a Google search Web service with a legacy database search tool, so the user can comb the Web and the company's internal knowledge base of information from one desktop application.

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The OpenSpan technology auto generates APIs for the applications the developer wants to integrate, Carden said.

"I can take Windows app and a Java Web application and we create an API for them," he explained. "When I say an API, that means I can see the object, but I can also interact with those objects as if I were the original developer. All the proxies, methods and events of those objects I can detect. We're inside the application now, that's our unique piece. So with the visual tool you say if the user clicks this button, let's send the social security number over to this Web service for a credit check. I haven't needed to make any change to my backend integration or my legacy app or the credit checking Web service, which might not even be an application I own."

The company founded in 2005, has gained recognition for their unique approach to application integration, as Gartner Inc. awarded OpenSpan with a 2006 Cool Vendor Award.

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