IBM, Microsoft Upgrade Host Integration Wares

IBM and Microsoft Corp. are looking to help companies squeeze more value out of multimillion-dollar legacy systems.

IBM and Microsoft Corp. are looking to help companies squeeze more value out of multimillion-dollar legacy systems by modernizing their mainframe integration offerings with new Web services and application componentization capabilities.

IBM last week released Version 5 of WebSphere Host Access Transformation Services, known as HATS. The upgrade enables users to define a custom workflow or component navigation within a legacy application, wrap that in Java, and make it available as a Web service.

Meanwhile, Microsoft announced the beta version of its HIS (Host Integration Server) 2004, which adds support for XML-based Web services.

Mainframe users welcome the arrival of software that extends the life of legacy hardware and software.

"We have invested millions into our legacy system," said Dennis Crumb, a rapid application development analyst at Avista Corp. who uses Microsofts HIS 2000. "Relatively inexpensively, HIS allowed us to expose that [system] without having to spend millions more bringing that to a midrange platform. So we chose to stay on the mainframe and use that for now."

IBMs server-based HATS software enables users to access host screens. With Version 5, users can define a function—a credit check, for example—from within a monolithic host application and make it available to other applications as a Web service, said IBM officials, in Armonk, N.Y.

Version 5 dynamically transforms green-screen interfaces from 3270 and 5250 mainframes to HTML. It also enables users as they build Web services to mix and match data from mainframe, AS/400 and Unix applications and to provide a single sign-on to access multiple applications, IBM officials said.

In 2004, IBM will continue to enhance HATS ability to provide integration to back-end applications. It will also work to link the software with WebSphere, enabling Java applications and legacy applications to work better together, officials said.

Microsofts HIS 2004 adds support for Visual Studio .Net and the .Net Framework. The upgrade, due in mid-2004, includes features that enable cross-platform access and improved application and data integration. It is geared toward customers looking to more efficiently integrate information from IBM mainframe and midrange computers with the systems of their partners and customers, said Microsoft officials, in Redmond, Wash.

Through support of the High Performance Routing/IP protocol, HIS 2004 provides connectivity for SNA applications across an IP network, a feature that helps users integrate their network infrastructure with IBMs OS/390 and z/OS mainframes.

With the tighter integration with .Net and Visual Studio .Net that is provided through a new Transaction Integration tool, users have the ability to wrap CICS applications so they appear as .Net client components.

For improved data integration, HIS 2004 provides what Microsoft refers to as two-phase commit transactions over TCP/IP to IBMs DB2 database. The two-phase commit capability lets Crumb run two transactions concurrently, even as his mainframes run in Sacramento, Calif., and his Web servers run at Avistas home office in Spokane, Wash.

"Right now, with Version 2000, its one trip up and one trip back with HIS—in other words, we cant open a socket to the mainframe, run multiple transactions and do a commit within one unit of work," Crumb said. "We have to do one trip and come back. [The new version] will allow us to do a long trip and keep multiple transactions."