Web enabled legacy applications that help streamline business processes

Why is it that not all IT organizations are web-enabling their legacy applications especially when the technology is not so new, or hard or even time consuming to deploy. However, there are tons of benefits in Web enable legacy application, which includes streamlined business processes, improved customer service, reduced cost and better integration with partners.

But what confuses enterprise is when and how to use web-enabling technology especially given the huge number of vendors and solutions that are available online today. Choosing wrong vendor actually led IT organizations to choose wrong and thereby fail to generate the expected returns. Now, the same firms disillusioned with the concept are unsure of going down the same road again. The article here, discusses the top three web-enabling technologies including – web to host, rejuvenation and legacy integration. Once you have clearly understood your end-users and their requirements, making the choice becomes easy.

Web to host- Green Screens in a browser

The web-to-host solutions turns the browser into terminal emulator. There are no changes in the terminal interface or to the flow of the original legacy applications. Users can interact through these green screens, however, the difference is that they can access the legacy applications from their browser which means that there is no need for any installation of terminal emulation software on their desktops.

How does this function?

Unlike the Web enable legacy application, emulation in web to host is performed by a small Java applet that the administrator can publish along with some configuration settings for the different kind of session types, to any of standard web server. In this there is no need for writing of legacy codes or legacy software. The users need to connect with the legacy application, click on the link on intranet or portal to download the applet. Caching saves, the applet on the user’s desktop usually when he or she makes subsequent requests. With every request only the modified files are downloaded.

Once the applet is loaded, it would establish a connection between the existing browser and the existing legacy application. To the legacy application this connection appears as any other emulation session. The users begin to interact with legacy application just as they would do with traditional windows based emulator. The basic standard macro, file transfer, printing features and keyboard mapping remains the same.

Advantages and disadvantages of Web to host

Most of the time, it is the administrators who benefit the maximum from the web-to-host technology. This is because the applet is delivered over the web and therefore there are hardly any kind of deployment or maintenance costs. It is somewhat similar to the Windows based emulators. Moreover, unlike the other Web enable legacy application, even the acquisition costs are lower.

Besides the lower TCO, the web-to-host applets allows the administrator greater management control and improved security options than the existing Windows based emulators. To cite an instance, it is much easier to restrict or expand user access to different hosts and session features. These sessions can also be authenticated and encrypted when secure connections are the most important thing of the day.

However, while the web-to-host applet comes with its benefits, there are still terminal emulators that come with complex green scree interface. This are rendered inappropriate for occasional usage employees, business partners or other stakeholders of the business. However, if one wishes to keep the legacy intensive users productive, at a much cheaper rate than the web to host is the best option.

Rejuvenation: Green screens gets converted to web pages

Like the Web enable legacy application, this too has some special features and benefits. The Rejuvenation technology helps in converting the display of the terminal screen into HTML. To users, this green screen now appears and feels like a web page. Rather than using tabs and PF keys, the users can simply point and click on links or buttons. However, there is still one-to-one correspondence between the original legacy screens and the new web pages. In other words, the process flow of legacy application remains the same.

How does it function?

Each of the web enabled legacy application operates in a different way. Rejuvenation servers operate between the user and the legacy application. The user would initiate a session by connection to the rejuvenation server, which would in turn establish a connection to the legacy application. For each action that the user performs on the rejuvenated screen, in their browser, the server would place an equivalent request to the legacy application. After receiving new screen from the application, it is modified into that of the web page which appears on the user’s browsers. Similar to the web to host, there is no need of change in legacy code. To the legacy application, all requests from the rejuvenation server looks like any other user.

Most of the rejuvenation servers comes with automatic and custom options. Auto-rejuvenation requires no need of programming, and the fields and layout present in the web page are similar to the original legacy screen. On the other hand, custom rejuvenation enables their user to make minor changes in the layout which would include hiding fields, combining single screens, and replacing codes with comprehendable texts. However, because the user is driving all navigation, any sure shot way of changing the application is limited.

Benefits of using Rejuvenation

Just after its launch, IT organizations viewed rejuvenation as a quick fix for extending legacy applications to a broader audience unlike that of web enabled legacy application. However, despite this the technology failed to fulfill the expectations for one reason which was that even the most extensive custom development work could change the flow or functionality of the legacy application. Furthermore, in most cases, the effort required takes more time as building a new web application using legacy integration technology. This is the main reason as to why rejuvenation are best suited in occasional usage among employees or tightly integrated partners. The users have already begun to understand the underlying business processes. Rejuvenation simply gives them an updated interface which allows them to work more effectively.

Legacy integration: True web applications built from host functionality

With the web enabled legacy application users can create custom web applications that are fully integrated with legacy applications. The user is presented with a new kind of web application that comes with a seamless user-interface that is specifically designed to attain the objectives that the application should accomplish. Furthermore, since the legacy application is integrated with the web application, there is no need for the developer to duplicate any kind of legacy business logic, transactions or even data processing. Just as important, the developer is not bound to one-to-one mapping of legacy screens to web pages. The process flow of the application can be radically different from that what exists in the legacy application.

How does web enabled legacy application functions?

Similar to the rejuvenation server, the legacy integration server is a middle-tier solution that operates between the user and the legacy application. However, despite this the legacy integration server does more than just convert the legacy screen into a web page. This encases a combination of legacy screens, data elements and navigational commands into components that perform complete business functions. The web application can use these components without being constrained by original screens or application design. The underlying legacy code remains as it is in its original place and functions.

Pros, cons, and target audience

The legacy integration servers componentize legacy functionality which would allow them to readily use it in new applications. Once these components are created in the web enabled legacy application, the web developers can use it over and over again without having any previous knowledge of the underlying legacy application or system. This level of acknowledgementinfact accelerates new application development.

However, as per the developers the biggest drawback in the web enabled legacy applicationis the time required to create new components. The good news is that most of the integration servers include graphical tools that ease the integration process. However, if effective, the same tools would isolate the component developer from the low-level details of interacting with legacy application. This will also automatically evolve to adapt to the changes in the legacy application, which would removing the need to constantly recreating components.

Web enabled legacy applicationhelps in changing the process flow of the legacy application and present the information according to what the users need making it a perfect application for all the stakeholders of the company.

Real world example of web enabled legacy application

One of the state departments of motor vehicles needed to open its mainframe functionality and provide secure self-service to thousands of drivers and business partners. Using the web enabled legacy application,it has built a self-service web site in just four weeks. With this, now constituents can make the necessary changes in address, renew car tabs, get tax information, and report vehicle sales real time. This actually led the agency to save some millions of dollars in legacy programming costs and cut license processing times by 75 percent.

Staying focused on the end users

Before deciding on the web enabled legacy application, it will greatly depend on the needs of end users. This would again depend on various factors like are they entering small or large amounts of data, or whether they need to access the host application all day, every day or even once a month? Will the users increase productivity by using green screen or a graphical web interface for their services?And lastly, but not the least, are the end users familiar to the legacy applications?

For those employees who are regularly in touch with legacy applications, web to host technology remains the best choice. One can reduce the ownership costs without sacrificing any host or emulator functionality. The rejuvenation technology can extend simple legacy applications to those occasionally usage employees or the tightly integrated business partners who are already familiar with the existing business processes. However, if one’s objective is to reach towards new components, including business partners and customers, one would require to build an easy-to-use web enabled legacy applicationwhich would be powered by legacy functionality. For these users there are no better option than legacy integration.

Conclusion

With the web enabling legacy applications, organizations are greatly benefitted. The vendors of web enabled legacy applicationhelp in converting the existing legacy applications into web based applications that helps improving communication between teams, business partners and even customers. Helping the enterprise streamline workflow and data processes by reducing requirements for multiple channels of deployment.

Most of vendors come with skilled professionals who utilize their comprehensive experience and technical knowhow to develop and deploy the web enabling legacy applications from the existing ones and without disturbing the company operations at any time. Most of these vendors ensure that a smooth transition happens as it is closely followed and ensured that no data is lost in the process.

If wondering what to do with the existing legacy applications that no longer fulfills the business needs and objectives, most vendors would provide several options to consider your approach towards the web enabled legacy application. The developer can choose to use or reuse the existing legacy application. One can always use the existing ones or even replace the current one with a new one. When requested for a consultation, company vendors review the options available to help determine which is best suited to the business and budget.

The professionals will help save time and money when converting to web enabling legacy applications. By using a state-of-the-art web enabling legacy application, you will be able to maintain the competitive edge while efficiently serving your business needs with the latest technology.