How do you describe an Application Integration tool?

by Ronald Nunan on December 24, 2011

In talking with someone who uses  Attachmate products, but does not have direct experience with a Verastream solution, I was asked what is it that Verastream does. It’s a good question, and one that doesn’t really have a single answer – primarily because Verastream can be used in different ways.

You could describe Verastream by the technology itself. Verastream is a platform and set of tools used to facilitate the unlocking of legacy assets. Once unlocked, information from these systems can be put to use as needed. You could also dive into the technology that makes this happen, but most often that is not how users and IT tend to think of Verastream.

Traditionally, users and IT look at Verastream as an enabling technology that helps them overcome an impediment in projects they are trying to complete – Verastream is a tool that does ‘Project x’ or Verastream is part of ‘Project y’.  It is different things to different people, which is why it is so challenging to define.

Fortunately, there are a few buckets or themes that we can use to describe the majority of Verastream’s uses.  Depending on the goal of the project, one of following might be the appropriate definition from an IT perspective for what Verastream does:

Legacy Modernization: For Verastream  this is actually an umbrella term.  All of the following capabilities that Verastream offers are a form of modernizing a legacy application.

  1. Web Enablement: Verastream can replace your old-style green screens with auto-generated or customized web forms. This graphical user interface (GUI) allows users to interact with electronic devices using images rather than text commands, and creates a nice, modern-looking application user interface.
  1. Application Integration: Verastream allows you to link applications together.  Specifically, it allows you to tap into legacy applications and link them to any application  you may need to talk to. For instance, updating customer account information in a CICS application whenever account activity is recorded in mid-tier database driven web site. Using Verastream to link the web application to CICS allows transparent and real-time updates.
  1. SOA Enablement: Verastream can break old or ‘legacy’ applications into sets of reusable services, allowing these applications to operate as good citizens in your enterprise SOA.  Most likely your CICS or other mainframe applications were not built to participate in an SOA. With Verastream you can wrap an application, say your CICS based GL, and expose parts of it as standard and interactive web services.  This can accomplish the same tasks as application integration, but by doing it through open standards, mid-tier applications will be able to control your newly created accounting services whenever and wherever needed.
  1. Process Control: Verastream can define and handle the governing logic and business process management needed for you to safely and securely allow the use of granular enterprise services, both inside and outside the firewall.  This is of particular importance when exposing services derived from mainframe applications. In the example of creating reusable accounting services from a CICS application, you may want to create the custom processes that correctly invoke them instead of leaving that work to the mid-tier application as there are risks if they don’t do it correctly.

Depending on the user’s or business department’s perspective, the view of Verastream can be different. For instance, application integration is often behind things like a unified desktop or call center system. To a person working in the call center, Verastream may be seen as a unified desktop system. But behind the scenes, Verastream is working to help applications that need quick access to specific information, aggregated from across the various applications so the call center agent can talk to all areas pertinent to the customer’s interest. So Verastream could be pulling catalog information, customer data and payment card information from three unique sources and providing access to the information in a seamless manner.

Ultimately, Verastream is all of these things, but in practice it is singularly defined by the role it plays in a project and isn’t unified across the board.

What do you use Verastream for?

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