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The ability of applications to communicate with resources that are outside of the application server process and to use those resources efficiently has always been an important requirement for application developers. Equally important is the ability for vendors to plug in their own solutions for connecting to and using their resources. These capabilities have evolved over time in the IBM WebSphere Application Server, from the JDBC™ application programming interface to the Common Connector Framework and later to the J2EE™ Connector Architecture, the latter providing functions such as application server inbound communications, life cycle management, and work management. In this paper, the evolution of the WebSphere Application Server implementation of these architectures, their benefits, and their trade-offs are discussed. A preview of an important new architecture, the WebSphere Channel Framework Architecture (a logical extension to the J2EE Connector Architecture) is also presented.
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