CICS / WebSphere

z/Vendor Watch: A New Lease on Life for CICS

There’s no shortage of activity in the mainframe software world right now. Among other things, customers have been coming to grips with the various on-demand services and autonomic capabilities that have rolled out in recent months. From what I have seen, there has also been a great deal of interest in DB2 Version 8, which eases the task of migrating and consolidating enterprise databases and has made many users seriously reassess the relative strengths of DB2 and Oracle.

One major announcement last fall was CICS Transaction Server for z/OS V3.1, an important move by IBM to position CICS more favorably within the Web Services environment. The announcement focuses on three key areas—ease of integration, enhanced application transformation, and performance and system management—and provides a wealth of new functionality to help CICS participate more fully in Service-Oriented Architectures (SOAs). Much of the detail was about improved support for the XML-based building blocks of Web Services—SOAP and Web Services Definition Language (WSDL). SOAP has been an optional feature under z/OS for several months now, and has attracted widespread interest from users aiming to simplify the management of transactions and calls between CICS and the distributed world.

But the real message in the CICS TS V3.1 announcement is that CICS is being transformed into a peer player within Web Services—a requestor as well as a server. This is an important strategic signpost, showing that IBM sees CICS being employed not just as a back-end legacy transaction server for Web Services based on other platforms, but as a fully integrated participant in multi-platform SOAs. To this end, new features, such as the CICS Web Services Assistant, are certainly worth watching.

NEON Systems Takes Over ClientSoft

IBM’s additional CICS functionality potentially places pressure on those Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) that have tended to fill the gaps in IBM’s mainframe/Web integration story. In practice, though, there is still plenty of scope for the ISVs to offer tools and services for integrating mainframe applications with Web Services, Java, and .NET environments. Indeed, the maturity of the third-party solutions means they will retain a healthy market share for some time.

Two of the leading vendors in this sector, NEON and ClientSoft, have recently joined forces. NEON believes that by adding the capabilities of ClientSoft’s ServiceBuilder (one of the longest-standing solutions on the market) to its existing Shadow z/Services products (with their emphasis on event-driven integration), it will have the most complete platform for mainframe integration available.

CATSCRUB Reduces Hot Site Recovery Costs

It’s not often that we see new tools for managing BCS catalogs, but when it happens, chances are that Mainstar is behind them. Their latest offering is CATSCRUB—not a pet care product as you might think, but a tool for synchronizing catalogs with associated DASD volumes at a disaster recovery site, and at a fraction of the speed that was previously possible. CATSCRUB, a selectable feature within Mainstar’s Backup & Recovery Manager Suite, can clean hundreds of thousands of catalog entries in minutes rather than hours, allowing faster recovery of applications and saving big bucks on hot site costs.

Security News

Mainframe security specialist Vanguard has announced general availability of its Security Solutions Version 5.3 for cross-platform environments. As well as providing support for more than 40 auditing and regulatory standards, the latest release introduces ez/Token, a two-factor authentication feature that integrates token technology with RACF.

Another company that is working on the standardization of security across mainframe and distributed platforms is e3 Sciences. Based in the U.K., e3 has developed the PassGen series of products for creating one-time passwords. Following on from its initial Windows offering, it has now launched PassGen for Java, which enables applications on any platform to generate one-time passwords using the IBM PassTicket algorithm and S/KEY, with a variety of programming interfaces.

Any More News?

Remember to send me details of any announcements and innovations for the z/OS platform. I would be more than happy to give them a mention.