New IBM Software Tunes System Z Mainframes for SOA

IBM's new Rational software initiatives boost the company's SOA push and its investment in mainframes for target industries.

IBM has announced a new software initiative aimed at boosting the image and capabilities of its System Z mainframe systems for Internet-based and SOA-oriented computing.

The initiative includes new tools for helping Java, Visual Basic, COBOL and PL/I developers create "services-ready" applications for the mainframe; an initiative to encourage ISVs to develop applications for the System Z; new middleware for the System Z; and new university courseware.

The new IBM Rational COBOL Generation tools are designed to help developers learn to write mainframe applications for SOA (service-oriented architecture) after only a few lessons.

The tools, based on technology created at IBMs Software Development Lab in Raleigh, N.C., are built on EGL (Enterprise Generation Language), a business-level programming language that enables developers to write full-function applications quickly, and which is in turn based on IBMs 4GL (fourth-generation language) technology, said Danny Sabbah, general manager of IBMs Rational division, speaking at a System Z event in Somers, N.Y.

The new Rational tools include IBM Rational COBOL Generation Extension for zSeries and EGL, which enables business application developers to build Web applications that deploy services to the System Z platform, and the IBM Rational COBOL Runtime for zSeries, which provides run-time support for applications built with EGL and deployed to the System Z platform.

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The IBM Rational COBOL Generation tools break up mainframe application code into components or "services" and help developers more easily create new applications and reuse existing components, applications and business logic in the more than 1 trillion dollars worth of mainframe applications written in COBOL, said Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive for the IBM Software Group, also speaking at the event in Somers.

"Increasingly, customers are asking how they can use their existing development talent and skills to build new applications that influence modern Service Oriented Architectures," IBM Distinguished Engineer and Director of Rational zSeries and iSeries Tools Hayden Lindsey said in a statement.

"The COBOL Generation capabilities from Rational not only give organizations the ability to utilize existing development talent, but also allow them to hire recent college graduates with little to no COBOL experience and have them writing code for the mainframe in no time at all," Lindsey said.

Sabbah said, "Were taking our 4GLs and enriching the capabilities over time, and were extending the number of environments we can target. Now were taking EGL and all the resources weve got on the mainframe and moving it to the COBOL world … We make it easy for people of that skill level to pick this stuff up."

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IBM also announced System Z for ISVs, an initiative offering technical, sales and marketing resources, as well as IBM Sales Connections for System Z, which offers to assist ISVs in locating sales opportunities.

In addition the company has implemented new courseware for universities, and recently sponsored a "Master the Mainframe" contest for more than 700 students at 85 colleges and universities.

Regarding new middleware for the System Z, IBM announced WebSphere Process Server for Z, which connects mainframe data to complex business via SOA. The new WebSphere ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) for IBM System Z integrates applications and services. IBM also announced the IBM WebSphere Portal for Z/OS, the DB2 Viper for Z/OS data server and the Tivoli Federated Identity Manager for Z/OS.

Jim Stallings, general manager of IBMs mainframe System Z division, also speaking at the event in Somers, said when people talk about "on demand" they are talking about "the mainframe. The mainframe has nearly unlimited availability."

There are four enterprise-wide roles for the mainframe, Stalling said: enterprise business resilience manager, enterprise security manager, enterprise workload manager, and enterprise hub for data and SOA.

Although the core sweet spot for the mainframe has been banking, Stallings said, the need for the availability, scale and performance afforded by mainframes goes beyond banking, to other key target industries such as government, transportation and health care.

Stallings said IBM is investing in the ecosystem for its mainframe offerings. There are 240 Linux mainframe ISVs, more than 800 applications and more than 1,500 partners in that ecosystem, he said.

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