IBM Opens Up the Mainframe

IBM will introduce more than 20 software tools that are part of its latest DB2 for z/OS database.

The distinction between applications locked in big-iron mainframes and those running on distributed client/server and Web-based systems could fade, thanks to new and enhanced data management software from IBM.

The Armonk, N.Y., company will unveil this week more than 20 software tools as part of its DB2 for z/OS Version 8 database rollout. One important capability will enable IBMs mainframe content management software to access unstructured data stored on distributed systems.

The next version of DB2 Content Manager for zSeries mainframes, due later this year, will incorporate improved enterprise content workflow and integration with IBMs WebSphere Business Integration software, officials said. The update will deliver enhanced handling of XML documents and provide increased access to content sources for WebSphere users.

Version 5.1 of WebSphere Application Server for z/OS, due within 60 days, will let customers monitor application performance and optimize workflows on the mainframe with enhanced application tuning and instrumentation features. New load balancing and clustering capabilities use z/OS Workload Management to establish policies and dynamically add application processing.

The application server upgrade, which adds support for Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition, offers API integration for third-party performance monitoring tools from IBM Tivoli, Wily Technology Inc. and Mercury Interactive Corp., enabling customers to more quickly debug applications and resolve issues, according to IBM officials.

The officials said there is a lot of value in running certain kinds of workloads only on mainframes. "Folks who talk about this I can do mainframe-class computing on distributed platforms, and it will work just as well have no idea of whats happening on the mainframe," said Janet Perna, general manager of IBMs Data Management Software group.

CheckFree Corp., of Norcross, Ga., runs DB2 on a mainframe to ensure scalability and high availability of its electronic bill payment application. Robert Catterall, director of strategic technology, foresees his mainframe becoming a data store that provides information to distributed applications.

"I think you will see more companies looking to use [mainframes] as more of a pure data server and fronting the mainframe with a Web application server—whether thats [with] WebSphere, BEA [Systems Inc.s] WebLogic or [Microsoft Corp.s] .Net—then sending requests to the back end as stored procedures," said Catterall.

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