Recently in IONA Category

IONA Advances SOA

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It's been an exciting month at IONA. First IONA acquired C24 and therefore strengthened both its technology in terms of data services including transformation, but also it's penetration in the financial services industry. Then this week IONA announced availability of a new product Artix™ Registry/Repository which I believe will have a major impact on how companies will view SOA governance.

The C24 acquisition improves IONA's position in the financial services (FS) sector. Artix has been doing quite will in FS because of it's ability to help large FS organizations reuse and interoperate their many IT infrastructure investments. So it's not unusual to see Artix being used to bridge between different technology gaps in trading systems etc. What C24 brings is support for so many of the standard types of message formats that move across these various infrastructure technologies, power transformation engines to support these formats, and of course some customers that have invested in C24 products. Artix Data Services will be a very powerful tool in IONA's SOA story.

Artix™ Registry/Repository is a very powerful innovation for SOAs. I was fortunate to get an early preview of this in Dublin in January and was very impressed with the vision and capabilities. The idea here is that in a distributed SOA infrastructure organizations need a much better handle on design-time, deploy-time and run-time governance. Whereas SOA management technologies, such as Amberpoint, help monitor and manage the flow of messages and data across your SOA, Artix™ Registry/Repository helps insure that the policies on those endpoints are up-to-date and valid. Artix™ Registry/Repository helps designers pull together the policies and configuration of endpoints, and then insure that those policies are maintained. New versions of policies can be pushed to appropriate endpoints and endpoint groupings. Endpoints can notify the repository of policy changes and so central governance can be maintained. So the repository is not just a static collection of metadata but is really the control center for your distributed SOA infrastructure.

Fairwell Steve

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Today Steve Vinoski announced he is moving on from IONA to a start up and "opportunity of a lifetime". He will be missed at IONA for his engineering excellence, his willingness to teach others, and his great humor .... oh an his shorts and crazy shirts.

After I came on board with IONA I was sent to Dublin to work on a major refactoring effort of the old Orbix 3 (BOA based) product line. While I was there I remember thinking that perhaps I'm missing out on all the cool new stuff, including Orbix 2000 that Steve was spearheading and that IONA was just bringing to market. I felt that I needed to be at the bleeding edge and perhaps the refactoring project, as fun and challenging as it was, was not whatI should be working on. However that project was a really important project for IONA and for me as it turned out. I began to understand how important it was when Steve continued to point out how it was the most successful engineering project at IONA. I had never thought of it to that extent. Steve had a different perspective that I learned to appreciate and it was and is a wonderful endorsement from such a brilliant and successful engineer such as Steve. Steve is not only a good leader from an engineering perspective but he's always great at giving credit, encouraging others, and willing to learn from others.

I remember talking to Steve about a year ago about a small home project I was working on. My neighbor Ron does a lot of really cool embedded solutions. From design of the boards to the building of the OS to the applications and user interface design. He set me up with a small demo board for a FreeScale MC9S08GB60 microcontroller. All I managed to get time to do was to get the LEDs to count up in binary. But I loved the project of playing with hardware again, especially the process of writing the code, downloading to the board, setting the right hardware switches, and testing. I look forward to getting back to it some time. I talked about the fun I had doing it with Steve and he said he missed working with the hardware too. And now he's off to a hardware/software start up! Hmmmmm ..... it's not my fault I swear!

Yes Steve will be missed at IONA, but, as Steve says in his blog, there are great people at IONA and I'm sure he'll appreciate that the room he's made will allow someone else to lead as he did, both in engineering and in the external community on standards bodies and industry working groups.

I don't expect I'll see the port of Artix's C++ stack to OS X anytime soon but I'm sure I'll read about some really cool work that Steve is producing at his opportunity of a lifetime.

Best wishes Steve and thanks for all the encouragement and fun. I'm sure we'll keep in touch.

Now where is that FreeScale microcontroller again?

IONA and Microsoft

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Recently I've been working on IONA's partnership with Microsoft. That has been keeping me very busy. Trips to Redmond, Nashville and Copenhagen for various events, and lots of other activities.

IONA and Microsoft have a history. IONA has always recognized the value of Microsoft in the IT organizations of the worlds most successful corporations. Back when people were talking about COM Vs CORBA in the 90s, IONA recognized the opportunity to bridge both technologies. IONA understood that Microsoft dominated the desktop in large enterprises (OS/2 was still around but declining). IONA built COMet as a very successful COM/CORBA bridging technology. In my opinion that product helped both companies considerably. Today, as both companies roll out more SOA technologies and products, it is important for us to partner.

IONA continues to help bridge Microsoft based applicaitons and services with non-Microsoft based applications and services today with Artix and Artix Connect. IONA has been working to help integrate with Microsoft products such as Connected Services Framework (CSF) and Customer Care Framework (CCF) - see our Microsoft partner page for more details.

Of course there is also a lot of cooperative activity with Microsoft in the various WS-* standards bodies and working groups. And IONA has participated in interoperability events and plugfests to help ensure that our products interoperate. As new products from IONA and Microsoft come to market, IONA is making sure that we continue to interoperate and integrate with Microsoft.

Many of you know me as a Mac guy. Well I just got a new Dell to help me focus on some of my Microsoft activities. More on that later.

I thought it would be useful for some people if I gave a brief overview on what my take is on JBI, WCF and SCA. Remember this is my take. Research it for yourself using the links provided.

WS-Policy WG

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I've had the privilege of working with the WS-Policy Working Group (WG) at W3C over the last few months. I know, it may seem hard to believe that working on a standards body working group is a privilege, and often it does seem like a chore, but there are several reasons for why I feel this way.

Firstly, I'm gaining new experience; experience of standards body processes. It's always a privilege to learn something new. And secondly, these are a smart bunch of people. At times some of the debate seems trivial but very smart people are putting their minds together in order develop some standards that will make Web services more interoperable with more advanced and rich features in the future.

Companies like Microsoft, BEA, Sun Microsystems, IONA, SAP, Sonic Software, Nokia, IBM, Nortel, Adobe, webMethods, etc. invest lots of resources to these standards bodies (WS-Policy Participants) Some of the people are in several working groups and basically have built a career just working on standards,. And it is certainly not a cushy number. These people work hard on some very tedious material! It can do you head in!

I am an infant in this world. Though I have lots of enterprise computing experience and interoperability experience I feel like a complete novice. I'm fortunate to have landed with a very civil bunch who are gracious at bringing me up to speed.

Now there are many times that this sort of working group activity will do my head in. Bickering over the semantics of a word or the usage of a word or the absence of a word is not how I'd like to spend my day. But I've come to appreciate what can happen when ideas and standards are ambiguous. Chaos can ensue and perfectly good initiatives can die.

I'm hoping to pull post an article giving an overview of WS-Policy. Stay posted.

This week the WG had a face-to-face in Bellevue, Washington. I finally got to meet the people I've been talking to on conference calls every week for the last few months. We got to find out a little more about each other - not just our views on WS-Policy. Bellevue/Seattle was beautiful when I arrived but turned ugly from Wednesday. It was wet like Ireland. We did have a wonderful meal at the Seastar restaurant. I'd recommend it.

Recently I have been involved in some projects that introduce SOA as a means to reduce testing efforts in large organizations. Taking two or three weeks out of the testing phase of a project and lowering the overall software development lifecycle (SDLC) can save millions of dollars for large organizations.

IONA's Professional Services organization has been researching and implementing methods and practices that can leverage the benefits of SOA for integration testing. Many of IONA's larger customers have a plethora of middleware and platforms. Having a consistent and automated approach to testing across these various technologies has been very difficult until now.

Leveraging best practices, testing tools and the unique capabilities of Artix, IONA PS has developed Certification Kits that allow for independent testing of integration end-points by disparate or remote groups. And this can be achieved no matter what the underlying middleware: CORBA, MQ Series, Tuxedo, Tibco, J2EE, Web services, CICS etc. This is achieved by harnessing the unique capabilities of Artix as an Extensible ESB. Artix employees WSDL as the common underlying interface definition or contract between the endpoints. WSDL is employed no matter what the underlying technology.

At one customer, IONA PS were able to take three weeks out of the testing phase. Consider how many lifecycles each application or team has per year and how many teams there are. You can then imagine how the savings add up. And then consider the time to market advantages.

I was a skeptic myself until recently. I saw an impressive demonstration of the capabilities performed by my old buddy Ashwin Karpe. Really great stuff!

IONA recently announced how Artix z/OS can extend BEA's WebLogic and Aqua Logic product offerings. I was fortunate enough to be part of the certification process for Artix z/OS on Aqua Logic Service Bus (ALSB) several weeks ago. I was impressed with both products.

I traveled to BEA's San Jose offices in California. The configuration was a z/OS mainframe running CICS and Artix z/OS in Dublin Ireland, ALSB running with WebLogic on a Linux machine in Waltham, Mass., and both the Artix z/OS Designer (tool) and the ALSB Console running on my Apple OS X Powerbook in San Jose.

Taking an existing loan approval application written in COBOL and residing in the CICS region in Dublin, we demonstrated how we could generate WSDL from the COBOL copybook. ALSB was running on an IONA Linux box in Waltham. We deployed this service as a SOAP/HTTP based Web service with Artix z/OS. Then we took ALSB and read in the WSDL and made it part of a simple routing decision - routing to an existing loan approval bean in the J2EE container for certain loan requests and to the CICS COBOL loan approval for other loan requests (based on the interest rate request). There was some transformation mapping required because the message schemas were a little different. This transformation was configured in the ALSB console.

We then ran a simple Java client that invoked on the Web service exposed by ALSB and watched as different requests were routed to different loan approval applications. Cool! We were all impressed.

The real value was demonstrated next. We decided to turn on some security on the mainframe. So we required SSL and RACF authentication. We set this up using Artix z/OS and transferred the SSL certification to ALSB (Artix would manage the RACF problem - propagating the security credentials from the SOAP headers into something that RACF would understand and then authenticate against!) Again it worked wonderfully. ALSB successfully added the security credentials to the SOAP message on the mainframe bound messages and encrypted. Artix z/OS then decrypted and authenticated against RACF and forwarded the loan approval request to the COBOL program. This really was slick.

I was on site doing going through the process but the real preparation work was performed by Alan Brown on the z/OS machine and Stan Lewis with the ALSB work. A big thanks to them!

If your a doing lots of Weblogic J2EE based development but need to reuse assets on IBM z/OS machines (CICS or IMS btw) then this is a great solution. (You should also look at Artix for other non-J2EE end-points too).

Here is the Artix z/OS documentation. For some reason the technical white paper requires a logon but this is freely available.

Who is IPBabble

William Henry IPBabble is the personal blog of William Henry.

William has over 20 years experience in software development and distributed computing and holds a M.Sc from Dublin City University. He is currently working in the office of CTO at Red Hat, in the Emerging Technologies team. This weblog is not funded by Red Hat.

Posts are intended to express independent points of view, but understand that there is probably a bias based on the influence of working with standards based middleware for over a decade. (See disclaimer below)

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The views expressed in this blog are solely the personal views of the author and DO NOT represent the views of his employer or any third party.

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