Tibco BusinessWorks 5.0: Business Works at Your Service

Tibco product lets you integrate apps in a standards-protected, controlled environment.

December 19, 2003

6 Min Read
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For enterprise use, the product now sports more corporate-class features such as integration with revision control systems. Out-of-the-box support for Visual Source Safe, Perforce and PVCS is provided, with plans to integrate ClearCase and CVS in the near future.

The administrative console has been upgraded to include the ability to deploy projects via the Web GUI as well as via the established MS-Windows console. The deployment model has also been modified since we last looked at Business Works and is now modeled after the J2EE architecture--and I mean modeled: Tibco's EAR (Enterprise ARchive) files can be deployed only to a Business Works server and not within a J2EE container.

The new file-project system is based on XML and is more flexible than previous iterations, especially in regard to organization. I was able to organize and group business processes together and then further organize them by specific functionality--for example, Customer Management could be broken down by Order Management, Profile Management and the like. Access to this function is password-protected. Passwords are stored in the XML files, but are 3DES (Triple Data Encryption Standard)-encrypted to secure them from prying eyes.

The visual editor included with Business Works 5 makes painless the creation of all X* (Xpath, Xquery, XSLT) functions executed during design time. XSLT is easily created via a mapping wizard, replete with easy-to-use interface in which to map input to output. Tibco has expanded the available XSLT functions as well, now providing support for almost all XSLT functions, including conditions/literals (for example, "for each," "if") and numeric conversion and manipulation (for example, "ceiling," "floor," "translate"), rather than the paltry few supported by previous versions.

Database-adapter support is twofold. JDBC (Java Database Connectivity) is provided within Business Works; or, for a more scalable solution, Tibco offers optimized adapters for virtually every RDBMS--for a price. Additional adapters range from $35,000 to $50,000. Although this may sound pricey, the ability to add as you go makes it more feasible to grow your integration framework on a project-by-project basis and spread the cost of acquiring additional adapters across business units.

The feature enhancements to Business Works 5.0, coupled with "Quick Start," a "get started for less" introductory program priced at $200,000 that includes Business Works 5.0, two adapters and 240 hours of professional services, make Tibco's solution an excellent tool for introducing an integration project within your organization.

Integration and Implementation

I spent some time using Business Works 5.0 within NWC Inc. to determine how easy it would be to integrate different technologies into the order-management process. NWC Inc. uses only Web technology for order creation, and it would be a boon to find something to provide support for FTP and Web services as well for all those distributors that are sure to come calling.

Both the ability to create a single JDBC connection to our Oracle 9i database and the update methods of 5.0 were serious time-savers. I created a single XML Schema describing a Purchase Order and mapped that into a JDBC query to the Oracle 9i repository. From there, I was able to use that same XML schema, connection and query in both the FTP and Web services-based processes. Cool!

Creating a business process is as simple as dragging and dropping activities (for example, FTP GET, File Read, SOAP Request/Reply) from the palette onto the business process, and connecting them in order. Each connection can be customized, including the use of conditionals. I was able to conditionally send an e-mail to the appropriate customer-service representative based on the amount of the purchase order. After all, if someone is ordered $2,000 worth of widgets, we want to say "Thank you" personally.

Creating a Web service in Business Works is not as elegant a process as in solutions offered by Sybase or even BEA, but Tibco's ideas are coming along quite nicely. Integrating existing Web services was made even simpler by Business Works support for both UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration) and WSIL (Web Services Introspection Language), which provides UDDI AND WSIL, a mechanism for reporting the services available for use.

After creating the integration processes I built them into an EAR and then moved to the Web administrative console to deploy the project. Once deployed, the options for monitoring and notification of performance of servers at the CPU and memory level are excellent, and further options for monitoring specific applications are provided on a per-application basis. I was also able to set up alerts and notifications via e-mail, as well as configure the server to attempt to restart the application based on responsiveness of the application to the management server.

If you find you're debating buy versus build for integration solutions, serious consideration should be given to Tibco's Business Works 5.0, especially if you represent a midsize-to-large enterprise with a long integration-need laundry list. The low entry price of the Quick Start program will get you going, and the reduction in time to complete an integration project by utilizing the software will definitely be worth the cost.

Lori MacVittie is a Network Computing technology editor working in our Green Bay, Wis., labs. She has been a software developer, a network administrator and a member of the technical architecture team for a global transportation and logistics organization.

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Application developers will be pleased to know that Java extensibility has been enhanced in v5.0 of Business Works. In previous versions of Business Works, you could include only custom code, but now you can utilize a single method (via a patented technology that's similar to the manner in which J2EE Application Servers provide support for Web services). This lets you select a single method from an existing Java class and use it within a business process. For example, it might be advantageous to utilize existing business logic that is core to your business rather than rewrite the code and deal with maintaining it in multiple locations and projects. If you're only interested in using a single method, this mechanism offers you the ability to do so without requiring a huge investment in writing the code to create an instance of the class. You can also take advantage of Java-XML and XML-Java functionality.

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