webMethods’ product portfolio: an introduction
When organizations are looking for an ESB to support their company processes, Software AG’s webMethods suite almost always finds itself on their shortlist. We understand why: Software AG offers a very extensive product suite. This attracts the attention of large research companies and returning customers.
By: Eling Delleman
For those who are new into the world of webMethods, it could be challenging to figure out which webMethods products exist ánd what they offer. That is why, we made an introduction of the product portfolio, in which we will begin with a listing of 6 products.
6 products from the webMethods suite
As an introduction, in this article we’ll focus on 6 products of the webMethods suite that we use at our customers’ companies. In underneath listing, we won’t focus on the functionalities of the products. In stead, we’ll show you how the products are used from a practical perspective.
1. webMethods Integration Server
The Integration Server is the workhorse of the webMethods suite. With this component, you can connect backend applications to the integration landscape, realize data transformations (mappings) and offer REST or SOAP API’s, whereby the system automatically generates the service definitions and descriptions.
Regarding the connections to backend systems, the Integration Server can be expanded with adapters, such as the SAP adapter or the JDBC adapter. This allows a quick realization of connections with this system, which can easily be maintained.
Lastly, Integration Server is used as runtime for many other webMethods products, such as webMethods BPMS.
2. webMethods Universal Messaging
Universal Messaging is the actual bus in the webMethods landscape. This is where queues are set up, in order to realize asynchronous interfaces. Now, a source system doesn’t have to wait until a target application has processed the information.
Asynchronous interfaces are an essential part of a well designed ESB and therefore, Universal Messaging can’t be absent in a modern ESB.
3. webMethods Trading Networks
For B2B traffic, Trading Networks is an essential component. Trading Networks is responsible for the prospective communication between business partners, regarding both incoming and outgoing traffic. It supports a large number of protocols.
If Trading Networks is used with the AS2 adapter, a very reliable data exchange emerges. Now, messages can be provided with digital signatures (evidence of origin) and for each message, a signed acknowledgement of receipt can be requested. In combination with the EDI adapter, Trading Networks becomes an important component for sending business documents according to international standards, such as GS1.
Another important advantage of Trading Networks is the fact that functional managers can receive access to a graphical user interface (web based), so they can maintain the interfaces for which they are responsible.
4. webMethods BPMS
Increasingly, organizations have to deal with company processes that involve multiple applications or wherein the process logica regularly changes. An excellent product to accomplish these processes, is webMethods BPMS.
For example, let’s take a look at the on-boarding proces of new employees. In this proces, various actions need to be completed, such as delivering a laptop or giving access to certain applications. By combining manual and automated tasks, a process can be set up and automated.
By using the standard (BPMN) which is understood by both engineers and the representatives of the business, the design is simplified and it’s possible to quickly adapt a process, e.g. by replacing a manual step with an automated one.
webMethods BPMS includes a business console that allows users to perform tasks appointed to them (such approving the purchase of a specific kind of laptop for a new employee), and track the status of processes.
5. webMethods Active Transfer
Despite the trend to make integrations based on webservices, file exchange is still important at many companies. And if you have to exchange files, you better do it right.
Active Transfer supports a large number of protocols that allows files to be exchanged between applications, such as SFTP, FTP and WebDAV. It also ensures the availability of file-shares, and the product has a graphical user interface that allows clients to upload or download files.
The number one advantage of Active Transfer over a number of scripts and a SFTP server, is the fact that every file upload and download is captured and automated follow-up actions can be defined, such as relocating a file or sending an e-mail. Also, certain actions can be planned, making it possible to e.g. collect a file share every day at 5pm, encrypting it with a key and setting it up for a business partner.
6. webMethods API Gateway
API Gateway is (summer 2017) the new kid on the block. With API Gateway you can securely expose your webservices to the world. API Gateway has a portal in which customers of webservices find the service definitions. Also, the product offers the end points of these services, whereby these are shielded from unauthorized use and external attacks (such as DDoS-attacks).
In practice, we rarely see our customers use all webMethods products. More often, we see them setting up certain combinations – depending on their use of the products.
Customers with many B2B file-links, often combine the Integration Server, Universal Messaging and Trading Network, possibly extended with Active Transfer. If they focus on strengthening internal company processes, we often see the combination of Integration Server and Universal Messaging being extended with webMethods BPMS.