Legacy-to-Web tools put your data in place

Legacy-to-Web tools put your data in place<@VM>Find the performance monitoring tool that can help you reach your conversion goals

BY JOHN MCCORMICK | SPECIAL TO GCN

Migrating legacy systems to the Web can be like transplanting a tree. Only when you try it do you find out how deep and in how many directions the roots run.

Most agencies have a variety of legacy data and applications, found on platforms ranging from old IBM 360s to modern minicomputers. It's not possible to convert everything at once, so the first challenge managers often face is deciding which data and applications should go online first. Unlike gardeners, network managers don't have to move the whole thing at once.

The year 2000 triage, which everyone went through to decide which systems and data got upgrade priority, can be used as a starting point in prioritizing this legacy-to-Web conversion effort, with some important exceptions:


  • The way agencies prioritized mission-critical work that had to continue right through midnight Jan. 1, 2000, might not be the approach you want to take in migrating legacy systems to the Web or an intranet.


  • High-priority data destined for enterprisewide accessibility might already have been converted to a modern system during year 2000 work and probably will be the easiest to move onto a TCP/IP network.


  • Pay careful attention to old data that did not get year 2000 priority because it was not deemed mission-critical. It's difficult, if not impossible, to know what legacy data will be important 20 years from now, so don't leave behind data tapes that are unreadable or drives that can't be repaired.



Most familiar legacy-to-Web tools are middleware products that actively manage the conversion of input and output between old applications running on old hardware and new Web-enabled front ends.
In deciding whether to use middleware tools or to rewrite the code in a Web-friendly language, your primary consideration often is how intelligent the legacy apps are.

Time to upgrade

Many have been upgraded frequently during the decades they've been in use; they might be old, but they're much more than mere interfaces between users and databases or raw data. The more auditing and management tools these applications have, the more difficult and less practical it is to recode the software. Legacy-to-Web middleware becomes the best bet.


The Lowdown

  • What is it? Legacy-to-Web tools are middleware that manage the conversion of data and applications between old systems and Web front ends.


  • Why would I need it? Content is the mother lode in any electronic initiative; the trick is gaining Web access to it. Unless you're taking on the job of recoding your legacy systems, using legacy-to-Web tools is the best method.


  • What's the first step? Know your legacy systems. Shopping for a conversion tool before conducting a thorough inventory of your applications and data is a waste of time.


  • What's the price? It varies widely with the extent of the job'publishing fixed, read-only data to the Web is relatively easy, for instance, but moving applications to the Web and building interactive functions is difficult. You can pay several hundred, several thousand or tens of thousands of dollars'and get your money's worth in each case.


    But don't buy an elephant gun to shoot a mouse'even shareware and freeware tools can build Web pages and publish files. Some of them are quite sophisticated.



  • Must-know info? A good tool must preserve the integrity of legacy applications and data, have an easily customizable interface and be highly scalable because there will always be more users and data, not fewer users and less data.



  • You also should consider whether the legacy applications are running on very old, difficult-to-maintain hardware. If they are, you're looking at an eventual rewrite; the only choice is when.

    Some agencies have no resources for a major new effort to convert legacy applications to Web-based applications at the code level. Others might have developed a cadre of hot programmers during the year 2000 frenzy who are looking for a big, new project and could handle a relatively fast conversion with in-house resources.

    Although data is often the first thing that comes to mind when you think of legacy-to-Web migration, applications also are being moved into the enterprise to support agencies' full slate of users, including telecommuters.

    Data conversion and publishing are relatively straightforward, with lots of tools available to access old databases via browsers. Converting legacy applications is far more complex.

    The most common legacy applications operate on IBM 5250 and 3270 terminals, or are OpenVMS or Unix applications running on various terminals.

    User-friendliness is a nebulous term, but in this case it's easy to define: Simplify the process and provide extensive error-handling routines.

    Think twice, though, before you carry your desire for simplicity to the point of outsourcing a conversion.

    Such services are available, and you could be tempted to take advantage of them. But doing it yourself will develop in-house conversion skills and build a knowledge base among your programmers that can be applied to the next conversion project, which will almost certainly come along.

    The Web is evolving, with new features being added to browsers and new languages such as Extensible Markup Language replacing or complementing Hypertext Markup Language, so legacy-to-Web conversion isn't a one-time job. Once XML is in widespread use, you can bet that new metalanguages will come along and be adopted.

    John McCormick is a free-lance writer and computer consultant. E-mail him at poweruser@mail.usa.com.





























































































































































































































    VendorProductPlatformNotesPrice

    Advanced Software

    Development Corp.

    Houma, La.

    504-851-6007

    www.advancedsoftware.com

    Total e-Biz

    Windows

    DBMS middleware

    $2,495

    Allaire Corp.

    Cambridge, Mass.

    617-761-2000

    www.allaire.com

    ColdFusion

    Windows, Linux, Solaris, HP-UX
    DBMS middleware
    $1,295 up

    Allegis Corp.

    San Francisco

    888-638-4866

    www.net-it.com

    Net-It Central

    Windows and any Web server

    Workgroup publishing for Microsoft and Corel suites

    $9,999

    Apple Computer Inc.

    Cupertino, Calif.

    408-996-1010

    www.apple.com

    WebObjects

    NT, Solaris, HP-UX, Mac OS X server

    Application server

    $699 up

    Attachmate Corp.

    Bellevue, Wash.

    425-644-4010

    www.attachmate.com

    e-Vantage Host Access Server

    Windows, AIX, Linux, HP-UX, Solaris, AS/400, OS/390

    Application middleware

    $189 up per client

    Anota Inc.

    Grapevine, Texas

    817-442-8480

    www.anota.com

    WEB-ifier

    NT

    3270, 5250, and VT terminal emulator

    $1,695 up

    BEA Systems Inc.

    San Jose, Calif.

    408-570-8000

    www.beasys.com

    BEA WebLogic Server

    NT, Unix, Linux, Solaris

    Application server

    $10,000

    BCL Computers Inc.

    Santa Clara, Calif.

    408-225-2679

    www.bcl-computers.com

    Magellan

    Acrobat plug in

    PDF to HTML conversion

    $199 up

    Bluestem Technologies Inc.

    Overland Park, Kan.

    913-685-0065

    www.pchelponline.com

    dB Page Builder

    Win95 up

    dBase and FoxPro to HTML file conversion

    $99 shareware

    Bluestone Software Inc.

    Philadelphia

    610-915-5000

    www.bluestone.com

    Total-e-Business

    Windows, Linux, Unix, Solaris

    DBMS middleware

    $95,000 up

    Borland Software Corp.

    Scotts Valley, Calif.

    831-431-1000

    www.borland.com

    AppServer

    NT, Solaris

    Application server

    $12,000 per server

    Computer Associates

    International Inc.

    Islandia, N.Y.

    631-342-6000

    www.ca.com

    Jasmine ii

    Windows, Unix

    DBMS middleware

    $2,000 up

    Ingres II

    Windows, Unix

    DBMS middleware

    $995 up

    EDBC

    Windows, OS/390

    DBMS middleware

    $10,000 up

    Core Technology Corp.

    Lansing, Mich.

    517-627-1521

    www.ctc-core.com

    CTC Application Miner

    Unix, AS/400, OS/390, Unisys mainframes

    Application mining

    Developer kit $10,000; server $5,000

    Crystal Software

    Melbourne, Australia

    61-3-9888-310

    www.crystalsoftware.com.au

    DropConvert

    Win95 up

    Text filters to speed HTML conversion

    $20 shareware

    CyberMatrix Corp.

    Calgary, Alberta, Can.

    888-664-0383

    www.cyber-matrix.com

    Text2HTML

    Windows

    Inserts HTTP, FTP, Telnet, WAIS, NNTP,Gopher and Mailto tags into text files

    Freeware

    Data Access Corp.

    Miami

    305-238-0012

    www.webappdeveloper.com

    WebApp Server

    NT

    DBMS middleware

    $2,495

    Data Junction Corp.

    Austin, Texas

    512-452-6105

    www.datajunction.com

    Data Junction

    Win95 up, Unix

    Data and application conversion

    $1,995 up

    eBT USA

    Providence, R.I.

    401-752-4400

    www.ebt.com

    DynaBase

     

    DBMS middleware

    $60,000 up

    Esker US Inc.

    Stillwater, Okla.

    405-624-8000

    www.esker.com

    Corridor for Active Server

    Win 2000

    Mainframe and AS/400 application middleware

    $12,000 up

    Pulse

    Win 2000

    Application middleware

    $17,500 up

    Persona Insight Server

    Win 2000

    Terminal emulator

    $2,700 up

    Expertelligence Inc.

    Santa Barbara, Calif.

    805-962-2558

    www.expertelligence.com

    WebBase

    NT

    DBMS middleware

    $695 up

    Extensis Products Group

    Portland, Ore.

    800-796-9798

    www.extensis.com

    BeyondPress

    Win95 up

    QuarkXPress to HTML conversion

    $300 up

    Haht Commerce Inc.

    Raleigh, N.C.

    919-786-5100

    www.haht.com

    HAHTsite

    NT, Solaris, Linux, HP-UX, AIX

    Application middleware

    $7,500 for 25 users

    Inline Internet Systems Inc.

    Mississauga, Ontario

    905-813-8800

    www.inline.net

    iHTML Merchant

    Windows, Linux, HP-UX, Solaris

    DBMS middleware

    $795 up

    IBM Corp.

    Armonk, N.Y.

    914-765-1900

    www.ibm.com

    WebSphere

    NT, Solaris, NetWare, AIX, AS/400, OS/390

    Application server

    $6,000 up

    Inzone Software Ltd.

    Glendale, Wis.

    414-961-7077

    www.clicktoconvert.com

    Click to Convert

    Win95 up

    Converts most printable documents, including PowerPoint, to HTML

    $149 shareware

    Jacada Inc.

    Atlanta

    770-352-1300

    www.jacada.com

    Jacada for Java

    Platform independent

    Java client development kit

    $8,000 up

    Jacada for Visual Basic & Windows

    Platform independent

    Builds GUI interface for mainframe and AS/400 applications

    $8,000 up

    Jacada Connects

    Platform independent

    Java or COM API for mainframe and AS/400 applications

    $5,000 up

    JafSoft

    Stockport, Cheshire, UK

    44-161-718-0211

    www.jafsoft.com

    AscToHTM

    Windows

    ASCII txt to HTML conversion

    $40 shareware

    AscToTab

    Win95 up

    Tab delimited text to HTML conversion

    Freeware

    Metagon Technologies LLC

    Matthews, N.C.

    704-847-2390

    www.metagon.com

    Dqbroker

    NT, Unix, Linux, Solaris

    DBMS middleware

    $40,000 per server

    Oracle Corp.

    Redwood Shores, Calif.

    650-506-7000

    www.oracle.com

    Oracle9iAS

    Unix, Solaris, HP-UX

    Application server

    $195 per concurrent user

    Pervasive Software Inc.

    Austin, Texas

    512-231-6000

    www.pervasive.com

    Tango 2000

    NT, Solaris, Linux, Mac OS

    Application server

    $1,295 up

    Relativity Technologies Inc.

    Cary, N.C.

    919-678-1500

    www.relativity.com

    RescueWare

    NT, Win 2000

    Mainframe applications to standalone components conversion for use in distributed computing

    $25,000 up

    Silverstream Inc.

    Billerica, Mass.

    978-262-3000

    www.silverstream.com

    SilverStream App Server

    NT, Unix

    Application server

    $8,500

    SiteSoft LLC

    New York

    212-533-9210

    www.sitesoft.com

    Database2Net

    Win95 up

    DBMS middleware

    $150 up

    Sybase Inc.

    Emeryville, Calif.

    510-922-3500

    www.sybase.com

    Sybase Application Server

    NT, Solaris

    Application server

    $1,995 per server

    Tela Communications

    Montgomery, Texas

    No phone

    telacommunications.com/ant

    ANT_HTML

    NT, Mac OS

    Word to HTML conversion

    $39 shareware

    WRQ Inc.

    McLean, Va.

    703-749-0555

    www.wrq.com

    Apptrieve/Super Nova

    NT, Solaris

    Application mining

    $20,000 up, includes 10 concurrent sessions

    Xbridge Systems Inc.

    Sunnyvale, Calif.

    408-541-8440

    www.xbridgesystems.com

    Xbridge Professional

    OS/390

    DBMS middleware

    $20,000 per year up


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