DataDirect Makes Mainframe SOA a zIIP, zAAP Snap

Shadow version 7 lowers the ownership costs of IBM mainframes while improving performance.

With a new offering, DataDirect Technologies is making the mainframe a prime platform for service-oriented architecture deployments.

Not only does version 7 of the DataDirect Shadow software improve SOA deployments, it also helps lower the overall total cost of ownership for mainframe SOA environments, the Bedford, Mass., company officials said.

DataDirect focuses on data connectivity and mainframe integration and is an operating company of Progress Software. Version 7 of the Shadow product incorporates new patent-pending technology that exploits IBMs mainframe specialty engines, which can reduce mainframe ownership costs and improve SOA performance, said John Goodson, vice president of product operations at DataDirect.

Shadow used to be part of Neon Systems, which Progress Software bought in January 2006, and is now part of the DataDirect product line, said Calvin Fudge, director of marketing at DataDirect.

The company expects to release the software later this year.

"A lot of people were coming to us to do SOA on the mainframe, so we built first-class SOA services to prove it could be done," Goodson said. "We also added BPEL [Business Process Execution Language] to the platform."


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Gregg Willhoit, chief software architect at DataDirect, said that with the introduction of IBMs specialty engines—System z9 Integration Information Processor (zIIP) and System z Application Assist Processor (zAAP)—the mainframe provides increased performance and has become a more cost-effective hub within SOAs and data-intensive ERP (enterprise resource planning) and BI (business intelligence) initiatives. These cost savings are realized by moving software that is currently running on the mainframe general-purpose processor and redeploying the software to run on the specialty engines

"The new strategy for the mainframe is to both reduce the cost of software and attract new workloads to this platform through the introduction of specialty engines," said Gartner analyst Dale Vecchio. "These engines are lower-cost options for Java, Linux and relational-database workloads."

Shadow version 7 will open the zIIP to additional workloads beyond DB2, including mainframe data queries to IMS, VSAM, Adabas and IDMS, as well as SOAP/XML parsing for the transformation of business logic and screen logic in Web services, Willhoit said.

Moreover, Shadow diverts SOA-integration processing and data queries from the mainframes general-purpose processor and offloads it to the zIIP and zAAP specialty engines, Willhoit said. Because processing that runs on a specialty engine is not speed governed, it does not count against an organizations contracted mainframe processing capacity, which helps reduce costs. Shadow version 7 will incorporate patent-pending technology that will allow both Task Control Blocks and lightweight enclave Service Request Block threads for mainframe SOA and data processing, he said.

DataDirect is bringing the mainframe back strong, with additional support for SQL, the Open Database Connectivity and Java Database Connectivity standards, and interfaces with the Eclipse open-source development environment.

"Weve embedded IBMs JVM [Java Virtual Machine], and this is where the zAAP comes into play," Willhoit said. "Weve embedded and integrated IBMs JVM into our architecture."

Moreover, DataDirect Shadow version 7 will offer new capabilities for expanded mainframe SOA initiatives—allowing organizations to orchestrate heterogeneous Web services using industry-standard BPEL 2.0 deployed on the mainframe inside the zAAP specialty engine, Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) specialty engines or any standard JVM platform.

Willhoit said he sees DataDirects strategy as "the architecture of the future" for mainframe environments.

"We offer high-performance access to data wherever its stored—in a relational database, in an XML document, or now, in a mainframe environment—providing the widest range of industry-standard access to the most comprehensive set of mainframe data and application assets in the world," Goodson said.

DataDirect is demonstrating Shadow 7 at the IBM Information on Demand conference Oct. 14-19 in Las Vegas.


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