The WebSphere DataPower SOA Appliances are hardware solutions that provide high-volume, low-latency message delivery and routing services. WebSphere DataPower SOA appliances, which can serve as Enterprise Service Buses (ESBs), provide data format transformation, security, and protocol bridges for messages traveling in SOA environments between mainframe and distributed platforms. With these appliances, you can access IMS application programs as a back-end server or in proxy mode. To facilitate access to IMS, the appliances can interface directly with IMS Connect, the IMS integrated TCP/IP server and message router.

WebSphere Message Broker

WebSphere Message Broker provides an IMS node that uses the IMS TM Resource Adapter to access IMS application programs through IMS Connect. WebSphere Message Broker can also   provide message transformation, routing, and data integration. WebSphere Message Broker can also serve as an SOA ESB.

IMS Web 2.0 Solutions

You can integrate IMS application programs with your Web 2.0 applications or with solutions such as Atom Syndication Format (Atom) or RSS feeds by using IBM Mashup Center or IBM WebSphere sMash.

IBM Mashup Center, a browser-based visual tool for creating, storing, transforming, and remixing feeds to be used in mashup and situational applications, can make IMS assets in IMS Version 10 and Version 11 available as feeds. You can integrate IMS transactions written in COBOL into Web 2.0 mashups and application solutions. These mashups or applications can consume and be consumed by other services such as XML, Atom, or RSS feeds. With IBM Mashup Center Version 2 and IMS Version 11, you can create a feed and issue SQL queries through a TCP/IP connection to an IMS database.

With IBM WebSphere sMash, which supports dynamic scripting languages and provides an integrated run-time environment, developers can build and execute Web 2.0-based widgets or applications that access IMS Version 11 application programs. WebSphere sMash helps developers build Web 2.0 widgets or applications. You can also expose IMS assets as Representational State Transfer (REST) services through WebSphere sMash by using the IMS Enterprise Suite Connect API for Java.

IMS Enterprise Suite Connect APIs

The two IMS Enterprise Suite Connect APIs provide simple interfaces for developing custom IMS Connect TCP/IP client applications written in the Java, C, and C++ languages.

Both the Connect API for Java and the Connect API for C manage the communication between the client application and IMS Connect, allowing programmers to create custom IMS Connect clients, without worrying about the complexities associated with opening socket connections with IMS Connect, assembling input messages with the unique IMS Request Message (IRM) headers, and managing the IMS Connect protocol for communication.

Lowering the Cost of Modernization

Any application integration or modernization project must start with an awareness of how the programs being integrated into the modern world work. Without this awareness, unanticipated dependencies between the programs and the components they interact with can drive project costs upward. Various software tools can help.

To understand existing IMS application programs, you can use the IBM Rational Asset Analyzer, which supports IMS systems, COBOL and PL/I IMS application programs, and both mainframe and distributed environments. It can help you understand IMS application programs and interdependencies between the programs and components they use such as IMS transactions, Program Specification Blocks (PSBs), Database Definitions (DBDs), and so forth.

The IBM Rational Asset Analyzer can be combined with the Rational Developer for System z to speed the development of COBOL and PL/I IMS application programs. Rational Developer for System z provides an Eclipse-based integrated development environment.

For the IMS Enterprise Suite SOAP Gateway, you can download a free, limited version of Rational Developer for System z that supports the generation of the artifacts required to enable existing IMS applications as Web service providers. The artifacts include the Web Services Description Language (WSDL) files and the converters and correlator files required to transform XML data structures into COBOL and PL/I data structures. The free, limited version of Rational Developer for System z, as well as SOAP Gateway and the other IMS Enterprise Suite components, are available from the Downloads page of the IMS Enterprise Suite Website at www.ibm.com/software/data/ims/soa-integration-suite/enterprise-suite/.

For the IMS TM Resource Adapter, Rational Developer for System z provides automatic code generation to rapidly develop application programs that access IMS. Other tools that provide similar support include Rational Application Developer for WebSphere Software, WebSphere Integration Developer, and Rational Software Architect.  

Conclusion

IMS has been a strategic asset of enterprises for more than 40 years. Despite its age, IMS remains unsurpassed in speed and availability. With the recent callout enhancements to IMS, and the options for integrating existing IMS application programs into SOA environments and Web service solutions, IMS can continue to provide value and a competitive edge to your company’s technology strategy for another 40 years.

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