IT Management

There have been significant IBM announcements in many areas of mainframe software in the wake of the z9. First is a renewed focus on Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), with a range of new offerings around the WebSphere brand intended to help customers achieve a tighter level of integration between mature CICS/IMS applications and industry-standard Web Services. As IBM strives to leverage the $5 trillion tied up in core mainframe applications, it’s using the WebSphere Developer for zSeries, the new Integration Developer, and the Process Server and Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) products to strengthen the mainframe’s position within the broader SOA environment while streamlining and simplifying the development experience for a less MVS-savvy generation of programmers. 

For customers wrestling with legacy communications controllers, IBM announced the Communications Controller for Linux (CCL), which allows ACF/NCP to be supported on Linux and utilizes the built-in zSeries communications hardware. This is an interesting product, particularly for users who are reluctant to rely on the limited processing capability of routers. 

The third area of major development is security. With a broad combination of new encryption tools, IBM is comprehensively addressing the issue of the vast amounts of unprotected data sitting in tape archives. The new products allow users to encrypt, decrypt, and securely pass around tape-based data while storing the keys where they belong—on the mainframe.

These recent announcements highlight the fact that IBM is carving out new markets for its top-end systems while addressing many of the areas that have restricted new sales in recent years. This has to be good news for the Independent Software Vendor (ISV) market, as new opportunities are occurring to add function and complementary services, even though some of IBM’s new products compete directly with third-party offerings.

Get the Message Straight!

I worry about the marketing messages emerging from some of the ISVs that have joined forces with the Microsoft-led Mainframe Migration Alliance (MMA). A few well-known vendors in this sector are clearly fully committed to helping small mainframe users offload MIPS onto a Wintel or Unix-based platform, and there’s a modest but steady demand for such services. I get the impression, however, that other companies are joining the MMA bandwagon in the hope of finding new business, while attempting to protect their established revenue stream from core mainframe tools. For this second group, getting the right message across to customers is no small challenge. I would love to be a fly on the wall during some of those marketing strategy discussions! How do you convince mainframe users they should be simultaneously downsizing and scaling up their core applications?

Searching for Mainframe Data

Google mania seems to have reached the mainframe world. Back in September, NEON Systems announced it had joined the select group of companies in the Google Enterprise Professional Program with the specific aim of helping extend the search engine’s reach into the darkest corners of the MVS legacy environment.

More recently, though, attention has been focused on Texas-based IN-COM Data Systems with its SMART TS XL Web-based search engine for z/OS and iSeries environments. SMART TS XL, we are told, supports highly complex Boolean and proximity searches on disparate data types. This is definitely one to watch.

Other News

-        NEON Enterprise Software released Lightning DEDB, which is designed to reduce CPU costs and maximize IMS Fast Path DEDB database performance.  

-        Innovation Data Processing announced FDRCRYPT, an encryption backup utility specifically designed for z/OS. It employs the new CP Assist for Cryptographic Function (CPACF) Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) hardware feature for both data encryption and decryption on all z9-109 models.  

-        OpenTech Systems announced CopyCrypt, a new tape data encryption utility. The product protects tape data by encrypting data during the tape copy operation to ensure the data can’t be read by an unauthorized source.  

-        BluePhoenix Solutions has added BluePhoenix LogicMiner for COBOL to its Legacy Understanding Solution Suite. The tool provides an analysis of COBOL code, and maps the interaction between various code components, teleprocessing monitors, file systems, databases, and JCL.