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COBOL apps moving to SOA: Rip-and-replace meets the recession

As an antidote to service-oriented approaches that discard applications developed over the years in COBOL and Java, an OpenSpan executive advocates viewing SOA as a journey. OpenSpan forged a deal with Software AG announced at the latter company's Innovation World conference, to bring legacy executive desktops into the SOA sphere.

At Innovation World, Software AG and OpenSpan disclosed a partnership to extend Software AG's webMethods Product Suite to corporate desktop environments.

With a sour economy and tightening IT budgets, this is not the time to re-write legacy applications for service-oriented architecture (SOA) projects, argues Francis Carden, CEO, OpenSpan Inc.

"Rip-and-replace is over," Carden says, speaking from Innovation World, Software AG's conference in Miami showcasing its SOA products, including integration of its webMethods Product Suite with OpenSpan's desktop SOA software.

More than a year ago, he was arguing that replacing legacy applications was too expensive and it was better to integrate them into SOA.

"If you think it was costly then," Carden said, "you can imagine how much more costly it would be today."

As an antidote for the idea that the service-oriented approach means discarding applications developed over the last 30 years in COBOL and Java, the OpenSpan executive advocates viewing SOA as a journey rather than a destination.

"Two years ago," he recalled, "people were seeing SOA as a silver bullet that was going to solve everything. But so much legacy stuff is not going away. You're not going to rip and replace and it's suddenly all going to be SOA. It's a journey. It might not even be a five-year journey as people thought. It might be a 10 or 15-year journey."

Organizations will continue to develop new desktop applications and buy off-the-shelf software, Carden noted. But services written for the SOA implementation may not be readily accessible to those new applications. The OpenSpan technology is designed to provide the integration so both new and existing desktop applications can consume Web services built for the large SOA implementation.

Based on the 75,000 seats OpenSpan has sold, he said the legacy applications his customers rely on include "a lot of COBOL" as well as Java applications that may date back to its introduction in the mid 1990s.

For more information
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Moving legacy into the SOA mainstream is one of the themes of Innovation World where Software AG announced a new version of its webMethods Application Modernization Suite designed specifically for integrating COBOL apps into SOA.

At Innovation World, Software AG and OpenSpan disclosed a partnership to extend Software AG's webMethods Product Suite to corporate desktop environments.

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.

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