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11/25/2008
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Making Microsoft Office Apps Into SOA Services

Tibco and OpenSpan are teaming up to combine functions from Office applications into a new composite that helps automate the business process.

Two companies, Tibco and OpenSpan, have teamed up to make parts of Microsoft's Office applications available as services for inclusion in an enterprise service-oriented architecture.

If enterprise users already make use of Office in their business processes, then functions from those applications can be combined into a new composite that helps automate the business process.

OpenSpan is a company that has demonstrated that it's possible to generate mashups of Microsoft Office applications without changing the underlying application code. Its mashup tool, Studio, can monitor how an application interacts with Windows APIs, isolate the objects in the application that are using the APIs, and then construct a call for similar functionality in a new composite application.

In an example given by Robin Bloor of Hurwitz Associates on the OpenSpan Web site, Studio could be used to build a business process that visits overnight delivery service Web sites, such as UPS and FedEx, naming the origin and destination of a parcel, extracting quotes, loading them into an Excel spreadsheet table, applying a formula, and then setting a shipment order in a Word document based on the lower price.

Employees routinely perform these functions today without an SOA composite application or automated business process, by invoking the user interface of the different applications plus their Web browser. But the Tibco and OpenSpan approach could make it possible to execute this and other processes through one user interface.

Building SOA applications that include Office-based processes "enables businesses to more broadly take advantage of the increasing scope and velocity of information available," said Tom Laffey, executive VP, products, at Tibco, in a statement on the partnership.

Tibco wants to add its customers to use its Enterprise Message Service, which can rout messages between various applications and parts of the software infrastructure, and its business process management products with OpenSpan's Platform, which includes Studio and OpenSpan Integrator, a runtime for the object components called by a composite application. Studio can identify and make use of software objects in mainframe legacy systems and other sources as well as Office applications.

Tibco's iProcess Suite or business process management set of products allows the automation of a business process running in the software infrastructure. The OpenSpan Platform now extends iProcess Suite to the desktop environment. Tibco Business Events, for example, can identify and quantify certain events, resulting in responsible parties being notified of something that has happened in a business process. OpenSpan Platform allows events happening on the desktop to be instrumented so that they serve as triggers in Tibco Business Events.

"This is very powerful because it allows any application to become a service endpoint, event source or step in a business process management process," said Tibco's Laffey.

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