IBM Ties Web Services to Mainframe Apps

CICS SOAP Technology Preview will provide access to CICS mainframe applications via Web services.

Capitalizing on the strengths of its heritage, IBM announced Wednesday that it will offer a CICS SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) Technology Preview to provide connectivity to CICS mainframe applications via Web services.

Bob Sutor, director of Web services for IBM, said the company will release its mainframe support for Web services as a CICS SOAP preview on the companys alphaWorks site. CICS, or Customer Information Control System, is IBMs legacy transaction processing software platform for mainframes. Sutor said the free download will be available later this month, and the functionality will be added into a future version of CICS, with developer support added into IBMs WebSphere tools.

IBM views this move as a big boost for its mainframe customers who are looking to breathe new life into legacy applications and business processes by providing new access to them via Web services, Sutor said.

"All the mainframe infrastructure running the world, most of that is CICS-based," Sutor said. "And on a given day, most of those mainframe transactions are CICS-based." He said 70 percent of the worlds business data is on IBM servers.

IBMs WebSphere application server environment is the proper environment to extend mainframe applications to a services-oriented architecture because it has been optimized for mainframes, according to company officials.

"You need some kind of connection with CICS, and this lets you talk to CICS via SOAP over HTTP or WebSphere MQ" messaging software, Sutor said. "We think this is going to be a very big step forward."

Support for the technology will be integrated into IBMs WebSphere Studio Enterprise Developer and will be available in product form in the second quarter of this year, Sutor said.

"This is going to be another in IBMs unrelenting support for Web services this year—on everything from Windows boxes all the way up to Linux on mainframes," he said. "I think this is what sets IBM apart from what other people, like Microsoft, are doing. For Web services to really be successful as an e-business technology, it has to be tied into these enterprise systems."

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