The Information Management System (IMS) database was developed in 1966 for the Apollo program—originally to inventory a sizable bill of materials for the Apollo space vehicle and the Saturn V Moon rocket. This may have accounted for its early reputation: that only a rocket scientist could operate it.
Today, more than 40 years later, the reality is the opposite. Many of the largest financial institutions and credit card processing institutions worldwide, along with the U.S. Federal Reserve, rely on IMS for efficiency in handling extremely high-speed, high-load transaction volumes. Over the years, IBM and third-party software vendors have continued to modernize IMS, with improvements such as DB2-like query capabilities and better management tools.
From Outer Space to Terrestrial Commerce
Like the space program that spawned it, IMS has delivered technical advancements benefiting commercial applications and businesses worldwide. With database partitioning support, IMS handles some of the world’s largest databases. It efficiently supports some of the most demanding, business-critical transaction workloads, all while maintaining the highest level of data integrity. IMS connects with Service-Oriented Architectures (SOAs) for better availability and integration with off-mainframe platform applications.
Large companies will continue supporting IMS far into the future, particularly given the efficiency of IMS databases for high-volume transaction applications, the mainframe’s efficiency in running these applications, and the cost of moving them off IMS. Larger IT shops, in particular, continue to increase their commitment to IMS.
The newest version of IMS, v12, adds to its legacy of technical superiority and improved ease-of-use. IMS v12 includes dynamic buffering for full-function databases, significantly improving the already full-function database performance. It also includes enhanced Java and XML support, opening IMS data for access by a larger audience and supporting business growth requirements.
Even with IMS v12, however, IT staffs continue to face challenges related to:
A variety of available best practices, along with technology, can help IT manage, optimize, and support IMS environments while reducing operating costs and improving business service delivery. This article examines these practices and technologies.