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XAwareData Integration 30 Nov 2007 10:01 AM
The Big Three Questions by billm

"How is this software different?"
"How many people are really using it?"
"What for?"

How is it different? I have not seen any other data integration software that takes the approach that XAware does. XAware uses the idea of a normalized, or common information model (CIM), which gets implemented as what XAware calls a Business View, or BizView for short. The idea here is to make it easy for applications to interact with any number of external data sources to consume or produce views of data that probably look nothing like - in structure, format, or location - the actual data stored and managed by some number of other applications. XAware provides a uniquely elegant runtime method of dynamically constructing and processing these BizViews of existing data. The project's founders adopted XML as the natural way of defining a BizView of data and created a set of XML tags to control the dynamic construction and processing of BizViews at runtime. The BizViews are nicely defined by metadata. This concept translated very nicely into a designer and runtime that makes building applications that interact with multiple external data sources a much easier problem. Thank you Kirstan. (Their idea is different enough to be granted a couple of patents, with several more likely to follow. Of course, compliant users of the GPL licensed open source get to use this patented method.) This elegant method is useful for doing many kinds of integrations that otherwise required a bunch of different tools; sort of a one size fits all way of getting the data. You will see what I mean below where I discuss some of the kinds of things that XAware has been used for. What users consistently find is that XAware is an easier, more intuitive method to learn, faster to implement solutions, and simpler to maintain, share across multiple developers and projects, and reuse.

How many people are really using it? Since we made it available under a free use license about one year ago, and under a GPLv2 license about one month ago, we can now only guess. There have been thousands of downloads of the software already. The GPL version is currently being downloaded about 100 times every day. We do know that more than 70 users have paid XAware, Inc. for support and/or commercial licenses. We are in touch with many users that we know have large mission critical deployments, some of which have kindly allowed us to publish their names. These include big companies like AXA, ING, and Synovus.

What are they using it for? Here is partial list of some of the things users have done that I know of:

Exposing data as a service (SOAP, REST, POX) - XAware is especially valuable when XML formats are complex and you have many data sources to connect with

XML messaging to replace EDI in B2B environments (e.g. ACORD, HL7 XML, NIEM, etc.)

Passing data between applications or between services, either directly using APIs or using a message bus or ESB.

Data mashups - enriching data with data from other external sources, which might be external sources available on the web.

Migrating legacy data to new IT systems while creating reusable data services.

Dynamically loading a data warehouse.

Creating a virtual real-time data warehouse for BI.

Processing XML messages into and from a relational database.

Database federation - i.e. virtual database views.

Adding an integration capability to an application. ISVs who need to deploy their application to multiple sites have used XAware as their integration layer, shielding the complexity of customer data environments from the application.

Integrating legacy applications with industry portal applications. A number of company's needing to integrate with industry-driven portals have benefited from XAware's data transformation and normalization features to quickly expose existing systems to these portals.

File exchange between partners, especially when files are formatted in XML (although XAware nicely handles text-based files equally as well).

Exposing mainframe data access as services.

I will expand on these use cases in future posts. If you are in a big hurry to hear more about one or more of these, post a question in the forums . If we're lucky maybe someone who knows a lot more about it than me will answer it for us.

If you know of other use cases that have been implemented using XAware, please share with the community by posting in the forums - or create your own blog on this site. The community would love to hear from you.


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