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When we talk about innovation being “leveraging or Exploring more values” from existing mainframe assets, Ivory Service Architect  is doing an innovative job  of this. That is exhibited clearly from my interview with Mr. Don Spoerke from GT software.

Current Business need

(i). Extending business obviously implies the extension of business IT Infrastructure in various channels  such as

            Application access thru Host

            Application access thru Intranet

            Application access thru Internet

(ii). Providing more sophisticated access to applications such as Pop Up windows, Scrolling and Drop down lists will make the user interactions with the application more user Friendly and customers can get used to them without any additional training.  This is more vital when self service applications are driven/being used by more walk-in customers. They can’t easily get to use mainframe host screens and complete their transactions.

What is the cost effective way of extending the business applications is the question to modern mainframe SOA architecture.

Current world scenario

In today’s world, more enterprise systems are using 3270/5250 mainframe screens to access their core transaction systems/batch applications. Traditionally, it requires more personnel training & infrastructure cost to host access.

Especially, core transaction processing applications developed in Mainframe applications are decade long investments and have millions of code which implies the business applications stability & rich features.

Extending these applications \ to accommodate the current business requirements is the business need of the hour.

Ideal world scenario

Users can access the applications using the web based interfaces or Graphical interfaces which provides more application extension in more channels and easy accessiblity.

In the changing world, the Ivory Service Architect server in Z/OS provides the applications to be accessed using the web services.

Using “Ivory Service Architect”, mainframe application flow can be converted/exposed as a web services. This will be accessed as a web services from various internet browser applications. Exposed WSDL files can be used by Java /.Net clients.

Applications running under CICS or IMS can be exposed as web services.

What is needed to be changed in Infrastructure/Applications?

(I). Server perspective

Ivory Service Architect  server provides the runtime environment for the web services which were created using the mainframe applications. Ivory Service Architect  server can run in CICS/TS, as a z/OS started task, Linux on Systemz, Linux or Windows.  

(II). Application change perspective

There is no need to change existing applications or programs. Required application flow as it stands can be extracted as a web service. The only change or development effort needed will be new interfaces such as websites and other web applications depend on the current existence. 

(III). Ongoing maintenance perspective

When application program COMMAREA/ input / output parameters change, the respective web services can be maintained  and redeployed using the same graphical Ivory Studio in which they were created.

(IV).What skills required

No special technical skills/XML knowledge required to generate web services. Existing analysts who are familiar with application flow will be able to generate the required web services.

What is needed in training for professionals (Application users)

New world Applications will represent the same functionality in new interface with more usability. So no extra training required other than providing the URL where to access the applications. The adoptability should be easy to adopt.

To get to know more about this product and its case studies, http://www.gtsoftware.com/content/products-overview or dspoerke@gtsoftware.com

There were bundle of modernization thoughts on mainframe applications out of mainframeSOA conference last week from Idevnews.

It was worth spend over the conference and more modernization solutions from various companies and their products were really terrific and  delivering more modernization solutions on mainframe applications.

In fact, it was inferred that most of modernization solutions derives from leveraging the existing applications and in my view that is the key of this era being so lean and cost effective due to competitive market condition.

I was admired by these points out of the call as I always believe these thoughts in mainframe modernization aspects. 

  1. Modernization doesn’t mean to disturb/destroy/rewrite main business logic exists in core systems.
  2. Modernization should be more of Standards based so as to reuse
  3. Rapid development/deployment
  4. Complaint with SOA/cloud implementations
  5. Modernization should be looked at application specific rather decision oriented.
  6. Modernization/Innovation is not inventing new things rather it is finding out the hidden values/adding values out of the existing applications.

I am going to run thru the products which I come across in the call in a series of my blogs..

I am excited to explore about its technical implementation and look after its business benefits.

When businesses were using IT around their core work alone, only transaction systems were in talk and there isn’t any need to look at the data except the transactional need.

When business world get into competitive, Lean & optimized business model and when their transactional data were looked into different aspects to decide their high volume sales product, high volume business segment & various business intelligence decisions, there was a need to synchronize the data between different applications.

Dynamic business intelligence solutions need transactional data to be used to derive accurate/up-to-date decisions and by fact these sort of decision/reporting applications can’t enquire the data directly to transactional database either due to their technical compatibility (These sort of applications need RDBMS and traditional legacy transaction applications were built in Hierarchical DBMS) or due to potential congestion/deadlock can down the both applications.

IBM offers the following suite

  • IMS DataPropagator
  • Data Extract products
  • DB2 DataPropagator

This offers the following solutions,                                                                                  

  • Supports propagation of data changes, as well as full refresh copying. These options combine to minimize the impact to production systems, reduce network traffic for copies, and automate the initialization and recovery process.
  • Enables client/server applications and legacy data systems to work seamlessly with relational database management systems.
  • Enables you to deliver key data from mission-critical operational systems (IMS data) to users across your enterprise supporting mainframe-based computing, LAN servers, and individual workstations.
  • Enables you to create relational information warehouses (on the platform of your choice) from data in an IMS database.

IMS DPROP can propagate data asynchronously from IMS to DB2 either on application updates or on certain intervals.

It can also propagate synchronously between IMS-Db2 & Db2-IMS with in same unit of work. DB2 data propagator propagates the data from Db2 tables to other RDBMS tables (With Datajoiner in case of non-Db2 RDBMS) in various environments which can be either in local/remote. 

In Solution point of view, the Data propagation offers the following things to IT

  • Transactional data availability to Intelligence/Mining systems with no extra coding/procedures to be followed
  • Adoptability of new systems into the environment with the same data without redesigning the core applications.

Insurance giant Allianz has consolidated and migrated nearly 60 servers which holds the critical customer facing applications into single mainframe server.

The recent z10 which runs with zLinux is currently serving as server for most web-facing applications for Allianz.

What could have been the decision factors to make such big move,

         (a). Traditional approach of running 60 datacentres – big challenge to operational capacity, Expensive & Increased IT spending.

          (b). Redundancy over the maintenance of 60 boxes with the skills/Infrastructure required to support.

          (c). As organization grow in pace, concerns over application reliability & integration between multiple servers. This is critical to organization which set to grow/expand.

Real benefits Allianz had seen:

           (a). Removed massive # boxes into single box

           (b). Reduced complexity of integrating 60 boxes

           (c). Application robustness to keep up better DRP/BCP

           (d). Environment friendly – 40 KVA power usage has come down to 4.

           (e). Reduced IT running cost and meets over the mainframe spending with in One year.

Among all these benefits, Allianz still thinks they have yet to see the longer term benefits which should be greater than they think!!!

Ref:http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/324815/allianz_consolidates_from_60_servers_1_mainframe_48_hours/

I happened to read a good report though i differ fundamentally with that report..

From the report of Boston-based Celent, “Reality-Checking the Evolution in Core Systems: Responding to the Real-World Technology Environment of Insurers,” assesses the industry’s progress in transitioning to modern systems.

“This early investment left the industry with a massive amount of valuable intellectual capital codified in legacy systems,” the report, authored Celent Senior Analyst Mike Fitzgerald, states. “Few have the luxury of starting over, and there are very few greenfield opportunities that allow a “start from scratch” approach.”

This raises another question of what is the success percentage of such massive transition!! What is the satisfaction rate  or  business  fulfillment rate from the business users post transition of such migration.. As it would need quite lot of spending in both terms of people, financial to collect all business codings put up in the legacy systems.  

Yet, carriers realize that this abundance of legacy code is inflexible and costly to maintain, and that it has large implications for their business. Thus, companies have begun gradually converting to modern systems.

Inflexibility & cost of maintenance has lot of parameters to scale upon. Now business world has come to an era where software product giants has to cooperate/communicate with in their softwares irrationally of its mainframe/Unix based servers/open systems/Web systems/Microsoft systems..etc. This software adaptability has to be focused on rather changing from legacy to modernization softwares. Changing from legacy to modernization is a hard punishment to business world. As modernization can’t be termed as strong just becoz of its new entrance.

The report, which queried 30 insurance system professionals, charts a good deal of progress. For example, while the 73% to 27% split between legacy and modern systems five years ago, currently the balance is 52% legacy and 48% modern. What’s more, the report estimates that the split will be 61% to 39% in favor of modern systems five years from now

Everybody wants the things to be changed and favour shouldnt put more cost without any business effect. If business need additional features from the current one, it has to be a scenario of adding those features plug into the existing system. Business world should be given more modernized interfaces and they should be given the opportunity to leverage their intellectual coding property which they have been brought for more than 30-40 years. 

Ref: http://www.insurancenetworking.com/news/insurance_technology_mainframes_Celent_legacy_conversion-24604-1.html

In an New York Times article of March 28th, the words of Steward Alsop, who predicted that the last mainframe would be unplugged in 1996 were put in context.

 

The mainframe was use as one example how “old” technology proved to be a strong survivor together with Radio, railways and the most modern one, print media. All these “old” technologies were supposed to be replaced by new ones like television, cars & trucks and the Web respectively.

 

One of the conclusions is that, to survive, these “old” technologies all have some sort of enduring advantage that is not replaced by its “successor”. And for the mainframe, this typically was the rock-solid stability and security to run vital transactions, while at the same time it allowed companies to integrate “new technology” like the Web & SOA transactions.

 

The most important conclusion was that the business decisions matter most. People tend to overestimate the importance of technological innovation and underestimate the role of business judgment. “The rise and fall of technologies is mainly about business and not technological determinism”.

Perpetual rounds of mergers and acquisitions, organizational change and compliance have all taken their toll, leaving firms susceptible to fraud, inefficiencies, and mistakes. The greater the change, the greater the risk exposure, according to research commissioned by ACL Services.

Just under half the 54 UK, US, and German IT and telecoms companies surveyed said they had either been through a company or departmental merger or an acquisition.

“Even seemingly simple changes to business structures, such as the merger of a department or a move to a shared services center, can involve massive financial consolidation and upheaval. Constant change equals greater risk and businesses need to have much tighter systems and monitoring in place to manage both,” said Harald Will, president and CEO of ACL.

Almost half the respondents said they believed their financial systems had been undermined by business operational changes, and one in three felt they were exposed to regular finance department errors.

This poor risk management had left 5% of respondents out of pocket, while the patchy compliance controls of another 5% had led to fines from auditors.

Only one in 10 firms said they were using the continuous auditing and monitoring technology needed to tackle these risks, while the others relied instead on ad hoc analysis.