How do you create new applications that reuse information locked away in your legacy systems? A cost-effective, reliable, and quick solution is to leverage the existing legacy data and logic in the form of composite services.


An increasing need for timely information, propelled by Web technology, is driving a range of new initiatives in IT departments. Customers and partners experienced with the convenience of Web transactions increasingly look for this Web capability from all the companies they do business with. Businesses benefit from providing their employees with an integrated view of the customer, often through a Web portal. Meeting these imperatives is a challenge for organizations that have critical data and logic on legacy systems.

Legacy data frequently needs to be presented and updated online. For example, when customers access a Web self-service order processing application, they require information on availability, order status, and shipping options. An online purchasing application must also be able to update the host with information on purchases and new customers. Each of these data stores potentially resides on a legacy system, and it’s unlikely that the legacy systems have application programming interfaces (APIs) capable of supplying data directly to a Web application.

Web portals, through which employees access information about customers, face nearly the same issues as Web self-service applications. A key strength of portals is their potential for increasing employee productivity by presenting multiple sources of customer information in a single view. These sources may include technical support records, account activity, and contact information, and some of this information can reside on legacy systems.

The presence of critical data and logic in legacy systems increases the challenge IT departments face when they pursue new Web-driven initiatives. Yet, replacing the legacy systems isn’t their only option and often isn’t the best one.


As shown in Figure 1, the challenge presented by legacy systems can be overcome in several ways:

  • Replace the legacy system with a packaged application
  • Replicate legacy data and logic in a new system
  • Reuse legacy data and logic by Web-enabling the legacy host.


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