Micro Focus extends Web services to mainframes

Micro Focus International Ltd. on Monday will unveil a version of its EnterpriseLink software that connects business partners to data on legacy IBM S/390 mainframes and AS/400 systems via Web services.

To be formally announced at the Web Services Web Edge West 2002 Conference and Expo in San Jose, Calif., the Web services-enabled version of EnterpriseLink uses SOAP to enable an enterprise to expose legacy data to third parties. In addition to IBM's hardware, the software also will function with data residing on IBM Corp.-compatible mainframes from Unisys Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd.

"What we've done is extended EnterpriseLink to be able to provide a Web services interface for any Web services clients," said Mark Haynie, vice president of enterprise extensons for Micro Focus, in Sunnyvale, Calif.

With the product, users could open up legacy applications to partners, suppliers and customers through a high-speed, programmatic interface, Haynie said.

Functioning with clients developed with either Microsoft .Net- or Java-based tools and deployable in Unix or Windows environments, the product enables companies to forge XML-based connections to "green screen" mainframe data, according to Micro Focus. Mainframe users can deploy Web services technologies in fewer than 30 days, the company said.

The new version of EnterpriseLink enables customers to: capture host screens and relationships without analyzing or modifying source code; construct Web services interfaces to those applications via a drag-and-drop interface, and allow access to the EnterpriseLink project via several client types, including Web browsers, Java applications and PDF files.

Previous releases of EnterpriseLink generated HTML over HTTP. The new version generates SOAP over HTTP, Haynie said. The earlier version required human intervention to enter data fields for Web access to legacy data. This is not a requirement with the Web services product.

A user and reseller of the product concurred on the product's functionality.

"Essentially, what it allows us to do is take legacy applications and turn them into relational views using Web services," said Cory Isaacson, CTO at CompuFlex International Inc., a Woodland Hills, Calif.-based provider of consulting services and a Java Web application architecture. EnterpriseLink enables preservation of decades-old investments in technology, according to Isaacson.

EnterpriseLink for Web Services ships on November 1 and costs approximately US$450 per concurrent user accessing a system. Production workloads can be scaled to as many as 10,000 users, Micro Focus said.

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