Connecting Unrelated Organizations
When Visual Software set out to design the first version of its interoperability solution in 2001, we had already been working on its internal core for several years. The core technology could best be described as one that “added services to existing applications without requiring changes to be made to the existing applications.” Originally, we used it to create a document management solution that is still in use today (and is an optional feature of our Veracity product).
In 2001, Visual Software was approached by Microsoft and asked if this technology could be adapted to add “interoperability services” to applications or if, at least, we could apply the same principle to solving the interoperability challenge. As a response to this, the first version of ZIAgent was born. ZIAgent is our product that is able to adapt to existing applications (without changing them) and allow them to exchange data with other applications in real time.
ZIAgent integrates with existing applications to either publish information maintained by that application or give information to that application. For applications that publish information, ZIAgent (and/or Mimic) can find the information to publish from. These come from:
- Direct Database Interface (using database drivers, ODBC) – In the past, we have supported the following database systems: SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase, MySQL, FoxPro, DB2, PostgreSQL, Access, Excel, AWS, and Azure
- CSV files that the application has exported
- Web Services Interface (in many different types of formats)
- Stored Procedures
- Database Change Data Capture
- Database Change Tracking
ZIAgent’s XML side is the standardized interface to other applications. The format of the messages sent is defined by the industry-specific XML specification. This specification would include:
- Fields (mandatory and optional)
- Code value definitions
To exchange these XML messages in real time, we use the Systems Interoperability Framework (SIF) standard definitions plus extensions we’ve added to enhance security and privacy as recommended by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP). These standards define how to send and receive XML messages in general, and they are independent of the as they are only used to establish sessions and to transport the messages securely.