IBM Mainframe Apps Go Modern

IBM is modernizing its developer tools and bolstering Web services support in its mainframe apps.

In an effort to extend its on demand and grid computing efforts, IBM is modernizing its tools to give mainframe applications interfaces to 21st-century technologies such as componentized software.

The Somers, N.Y., company is beta testing a feature that provides direct Web services connectivity into CICS (Customer Information Control System), a transaction manager widely used on the companys zSeries mainframes.

The technology will be a feature in the next release of CICS, due the first quarter of next year, according to Jim Rhyne, distinguished engineer, eServer tools architect with the Technology and Enterprise Modernization group at IBM.

Outbound Web services capabilities will be available this year for CICS, and the ability to support high levels of security and transactionability will be available next year, Rhyne said.

"Almost all the application environments in the mainframe ... will move to where you can write applications and they will automatically support Web services," Rhyne said.

To help users achieve both scale and detail when analyzing the impact of change on their mainframe applications, IBM is also working on the next generation of its WebSphere Studio Asset Analyzer tool, known as WSA. The upgrade will provide the ability to perform code slicing, which enables users to pull out relevant code for use in application upgrades and automatically extract related code. Code slicing will be available in WSA or a complementary product within 12 months, Rhyne said. While WSA helps developers figure out a pattern to apply in mainframe application modernization efforts, slicing will help users determine which applications will be affected by change.

Stanley Dahl, WebSphere solutions architect for systems integrator Mainline Information Systems Inc., said a Web services capability in CICS will be important for the half-dozen companies he is working with on mainframe modernization evaluations.

"Its an integral part of whats going on [with modernization]," said Dahl, in Tallahassee, Fla. "CICS has been around since the 70s. Its a tool that customers have been using as the backbone of their transaction processing forever. These are the customers that have a need to move to the future."