This article originally published in the Architects Corner section of our LANSA Review customer magazine Issue 34, 2007.
While there are many middleware and Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) tools that address Business Process Integration (BPI) and Business Process Automation (BPA), most require heavy technical skills or have the integration control logic hard-coded into server-side programs or adapters. This makes them unsuitable for already over-burdened development teams to use for quick and simple solutions to meet urgent business requests.
LANSA Composer brings the power of BPI technology to enterprises that want to automate and integrate business processes with external trading partners or between internal applications. LANSA Composer is a highly visual environment for designers and business analysts rather than developers, which provides a simple way for non-programmers to make use of core LANSA Integrator services.
What is LANSA Composer?
LANSA Composer is a design and execution platform for integrating business activities involving transport and transformation of data and custom business processing. It satisfies the four key requirements of a business process integration solution:
- Transport – moving data between source and target.
- Transformation – mapping data between different formats.
- Process Orchestration – sequential and conditional execution of process flow.
- Administration – auditing, error-handling, logging, security and system operations.
A simple interface lets you wrap business logic as Activities and combine them with industry standard transformation and transport services in a single business process.
Who should use it?
LANSA Composer is intended to be used by business analysts to design and implement solutions to integration problems. It is not necessary to write program code to use Composer for solutions that involve standard transport and transformation activities.
The implementation of the transport and transformation activities and orchestrating them in business processes is all accomplished using highly visual graphical interfaces.
LANSA Composer can also be extended to encompass your custom business processing. Activity processes can be defined that encapsulate the custom processing built by your developers. These custom Activities are orchestrated in the same way as the LANSA-supplied transport activities and transformations.
LANSA Composer lends itself well to an environment in which the building of the custom business processing can be delegated to a services development group, while the combination and orchestration of the Activities is performed by business analysts.
What can LANSA Composer do?
In a graphical, drag-and-drop environment (without having to write program code), business analysts can do the following:
- Exchange business information and transactions in common and agreed formats with trading partners, internal business units and other business applications on the same or different computing platforms.
- Transform business information between XML, text and database formats.
- Invoke Web services, whether publicly available, published by trading partners or internal to your organization.
- Orchestrate the transport, transformation and other activities, pass variable data between them and apply conditional and structural directives to create multi-step business processes that can be executed and managed as a single unit.
A sample scenario
Let's look at how LANSA Composer lets you handle a sample scenario where your organization is required to periodically retrieve orders in an agreed XML format from your trading partner using FTP. More than one order document may be retrieved and must be processed to transform it from XML to your in-house Orders database.
This scenario can be easily implemented in LANSA Composer in three steps:
- Create an FTP Configuration that specifies the addressing details and security credentials necessary to communicate with the trading partner via FTP.
- Create a Transformation Map that specifies how to map from the orders in XML format to the internal database.
- Create a Processing Sequence that combines the supplied FTP Activity with a loop that executes the Transformation Map for each received order document.
This Processing Sequence may then be invoked from your own applications or be scheduled to run periodically through your job scheduler of choice.
Extend the scenario
You can extend this scenario in many ways, including:
- Add custom business processing to validate and accept the incoming orders.
- Generate acknowledgement documents in XML and FTP them to your partners.
- Implement processes for other types of business information, such as inventory and price enquiries, purchasing and invoicing.
- Use other transport protocols such as HTTP or e-mail and different FTP configurations for different trading partners.
- Design business processes to perform repetitive processing for other partners.
How is LANSA Composer different from LANSA Integrator?
LANSA Integrator is a developer toolkit that enables integration of application-to-application (A2A) and business-to-business (B2B) transactions through XML and Java services. LANSA Integrator hides the technical aspects of integration tasks and provides the ultimate flexibility to incorporate those tasks into your LANSA, C, RPG and COBOL applications, in whatever way is required.
LANSA Integrator also offers wizard-based Web service development to consume external or internal Web services or expose existing LANSA or 3GL code as a Web service.
Because LANSA Integrator is designed to build highly-customized applications that include business integration tasks, it requires a developer to write program code to access LANSA-supplied or custom built services.
In contrast, LANSA Composer is designed to be used by business analysts without coding skills. It is very suitable for composing business processes consisting of combinations of standard transport, transformations and other Activities, including custom built services.
While much of the functionality supplied with LANSA Composer (including industry standard transport activities and the run-time execution of Transformation Maps) are implemented using LANSA Integrator, you do not have to write program code to take advantage of LANSA-supplied or custom services with LANSA Composer.
LANSA Composer delivers the power of BPI without coding by letting non-programmers make use of LANSA Integrator services in a drag and drop environment. If you can click you can connect.