While that has a huge “wow” factor, for IMS sites, it introduces security concerns about who has access to your data and who might see some sensitive information on someone else’s iPhone as they wait at the airport or travel by train. As an aside, there was always a security risk with people reading “sensitive” documents over someone’s shoulder. Some laptops are designed so they can be best seen from the front and anyone looking from the side won’t see very much. But tablets and smartphones are designed for visibility from all directions and this can be an issue.
Broadening IMS’ Multi-Platform Reach
It’s possible to combine IMS data and transactions with DB2 and CICS, and make them accessible from a browser. The next stage to enrich the users’ experience and make that information even more useful is to mash-up the data, combining more than one source of information to provide better information.
The IBM Mashup Center provides a host of IMS resources, letting users customize IMS transactions without modifying the original application. There’s also the opportunity to create more traditional mash-ups with Web-enabled IMS information being combined with information from other sources. Provided there’s an easy-to-use interface, and it provides insights not available elsewhere, people will use it. While mash-ups originated as a hobbyist-type activity, major commercial enterprises have been embracing the technology.
But not all the data in the world is stored in IBM databases. One of the most popular non-IBM choices is Oracle, which has been around since 1978. In terms of connectivity, Oracle has Oracle Access Manager for IMS TM applications, which is based on the IMS External Subsystem Attachment Facility (ESAF), and allows communication to mainframe-based Oracle systems. An alternative is to install and configure the Oracle Connect for IMS Gateway.
Newer versions of Oracle won’t run on native z/OS, but many sites run Oracle systems under Linux for System z. This gives sites the familiarity of an Oracle environment with the power of System z. They could use the Oracle Tuxedo Application Runtime for IMS, which runs IMS applications using Oracle Tuxedo. It’s a way of moving the application off the standard mainframe, if that’s desirable, and into Linux on System z or other environments.
For sites looking for partial rehosting of IMS applications, mainframe connectivity is maintained using Tuxedo Mainframe Adapters (TMA). TMA offers transactional connectivity to IMS TM and CICS. The rehosted components look like a remote IMS region to the mainframe. There’s also the Oracle Java CAPS Adapter for IMS. This IMS adapter enables the Oracle Java CAPS ESB to connect to IMS TM applications using IMS Connect. The adapter provides access to the input and output descriptors of the IMS applications without changing the application.
Using the IMS SOA Integration Suite provides access to SAP and other systems. Third-party products can also help by using the WSDL, discussed earlier, as a way of integrating IMS with non-mainframe systems. Although, again, SAP could be running under Linux on System z.
With so many Windows PCs and data centers using Windows servers to drive computing in those environments, it’s useful for IMS to be able to reach out to the Microsoft platforms, especially SharePoint, Microsoft’s Web application platform for intranet content management and document management. It has a similar look-and-feel to Microsoft Office and provides intranet portals, document and file management, collaboration, social networks, extranets, Websites, enterprise search, and BI. SharePoint provides central management, governance, and security controls; an estimated 78 percent of Fortune 500 companies have it installed.
Third-party suppliers can offer ASP.NET terminal emulation software, which allows the screen views from IMS TM to be available to SharePoint users and for those users to interact with the data. IBM has the Windows SharePoint Services connector, which enables its Content Integrator to connect to and access content from Windows SharePoint. IBM’s Content Integrator integrates images, documents, and workflow processes. It uses a set of Application Program Interfaces (APIs) to create applications.
IBM Content Collector for Microsoft SharePoint (formerly InfoSphere Content Collector for SharePoint) is an IBM Enterprise Content Management system that now includes SharePoint users. It provides collection and archiving of SharePoint content. Microsoft BizTalk Server contains adapters that let data be exchanged between BizTalk Servers and IMS and CICS. Biztalk and SharePoint are separate things, but can be integrated. Using Open Database Connectivity (ODBC), and for ease, third-party software, it’s possible to make IMS data available in Excel spreadsheets, and take data from Excel and integrate it into IMS DB.
For many organizations, using cloud computing is seen as the way forward; the newer large IBM processors, such as the new zEC12, make it easy for the mainframe to effectively run a private cloud for users. With cloud computing, users don’t care where applications are sourced or where their data is stored; they just know it’s somewhere in the cloud. With SOA, IMS applications become available as Web services and users can interact from anywhere. We’ve mentioned techniques using WSDL, SOAP, REST, and JSON you can use to move to cloud-like, everything-as-a-service, computing.
IMS is no longer an island of computing excellence separated from other islands on a mainframe. IMS subsystems can communicate with other IMS subsystems whether on the same mainframe or a connected one. IMS can communicate in both directions with CICS and DB2. Together, they can create a single business unit of work. Using SOA techniques, IMS becomes available from any platform that can run a browser; users don’t need to be on an attached terminal. Using those techniques and others, IMS can share information with Oracle and SAP, and can be integrated with Windows platforms. In fact, you might say, 44-year-old IMS is pretty ubiquitous—it’s a metaphorical high-performing spider in a web that stretches across computing platforms and applications. It’s the essence of modern software.