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IBM mainframe CICS Transaction Server enhanced for SOA

IBM has upgraded its CICS Transaction Server to take advantage of service-oriented architecture, also known as SOA, allowing better access to mainframe legacy programs.

IBM has upgraded CICS Transaction Server for z/OS to allow broader access to legacy mainframe applications through Web services and service-oriented architecture (SOA).

The beta version of the Customer Information Control System Transaction Server for z/OS Version 3.2 is out today, with the full version expected to be ready by the end of June.

Features include:

  • More conformance with Web services and SOAP standards
  • Tools for customers to better track data going in and out of CICS
  • 64-bit storage for channels and storage, instead of 32-bit
  • Improved TCP/IP capabilities

More on CICS:
Q&A: IBM offers a peek at new SOAP for CICS

CICS Transaction Server for z/OS V3.1

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Susan Eustis, president and co-founder of WinterGreen Research, an IT research firm in Lexington, Mass., said it's that last bullet point that caught her eye especially.

"SOA is all about components and managing components rapidly and in memory," she said. "If you expand the channel capability, you can do a lot more to implement your SOA."

Eustis said that IBM's strategy of investing in SOA for the mainframe is wise. SOA on the mainframe can allow companies to access multiple legacy applications and present them to end users in a single, easier to read Web-like format.

Josh Krischer, president of Josh Krischer & Associates, an analyst firm in Bensheim, Germany, agreed with Eustis that the 64-bit storage capabilities are huge. He added that the improvements to Enterprise Workload Manager for CICS are also key.

"Adjusting the resources of the mainframe according to the need of the application results in a better service to the end user," he said. "You are setting goals and saying, for example, that 80% of an application will respond within eight seconds, and resources will be taken to justify that target."

"In particular with this announcement, IBM is speaking a lot about service-oriented architecture," Krischer added. "But everyone is talking about that; it's a buzzword. What is important for me is improved connectivity using TCP/IP, because the SNA [systems network architecture] knowledge is dying out."

Jim Rhyne, chief architect for enterprise software at IBM, said the company will continue to develop CICS in a way to help the mainframe be the "SOA hub" in their data centers. WinterGreen's Eustis, meanwhile, said this is a way for IBM to keep the mainframe relevant.

"The mainframe was always an efficient box, but it was so unapproachable that you didn't even want to bother with it," she said. "With SOA, you can move new workloads to the mainframe."

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