In the day-to-day grind of business integration, it’s easy to fall into the habit of using the same tools, services, and platforms. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it can lead to efficiency and mastery, but it can make it harder to see the benefits of new approaches, perhaps customized for a specific domain.
To that end, I’d like to share some interesting features of a new (actually fairly old) platform called DXtera. The old DXtera Institute was formed in early 2017 to address the challenges surrounding the integration of digital information, specifically in the realm of postsecondary and higher education. It grew out of the pioneering work done by the Open Knowledge Initiative, led by MIT but supported by many schools and companies.
The DXtera framework provides modular components that provide several kinds of functionality:
- Native Service Implementations
- Legacy Connectors
- Business Logic Adaptors
- Protocol Bridges
The first two components are common to most integration frameworks. They are either implementations of various services (identity management, courseware access, etc.) or connectors to legacy services, for instance in the academic program, program enrollment and degrees awarded.
Business Logic Adaptors are also a familiar integration element, but are usually not called out as reusable components. In the DXtera framework BLAs allow business logic to be modified and enhanced in a lightweight manner that enables them to be layered, providing support for orchestration, federation, and access control.
Protocol Bridges are components that provide access to the DXtera runtime environment and its support services. These are called connectors in the MuleSoft framework and share its flexible approach in support of protocols such as REST and SOAP/WSDL. It also includes unfamiliar protocols (in the Mule world) such as Protocol Buffers and GraphQL.
Benefits to MS3 Customers
MS3 does a lot of work with universities and other education organizations. While some of those institutions have very specific ideas on how they want to implement their business applications, there are some solid advantages to considering up-and-coming frameworks like DXtera.
The first advantage is the depth of existing support for services, protocols, and common business logic adaptors. Although the DXtera name is new, the code has been around for over fifteen years and has been proven in several major enterprise integration and application projects. This is a serious consideration for software critical for the ongoing success of a school or university.
Next is the flexibility to customize the underlying elements. The easiest way to do this is to layer on another Business Logic Adaptor or add a shim between existing components, but since the DXtera platform is completely open source, it’s wide open for extension and customization.
Cost is a consideration for many organizations, who often have a lean budget for platform licenses. DXtera is available under both the commercially friendly MIT License and Educational Community License. DXtera is also a membership organization, so some elements are being released under a community source license, which allowance for members who leave the organization to continue to use.
While MuleSoft development is one of MS3’s strong points, we strive to explore alternatives so that we can provide the best possible solution for our customers. Personally, I think that DXtera is a strong candidate for business integration solutions, especially in the realm of higher education.
Note: I was a personal contributor to the OKI effort in an early version of DXtera components, then known as Open Service Integration Definitions (OSIDs).
About The Author
Mark Norton is a senior integration specialist at MS3 with over 15 years of API design and implementation experience in support of higher education, retail, healthcare, telecommunications, IT, and other vertical markets. As a senior architect, Mark guides the future direction of clients by conducting architect design reviews and consulting on tactical directions. He has experience with MuleSoft, RedHat JBoss, and Java Servlet API Platforms.