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It is no secret that many companies would like to leverage their mainframe to help drive new business initiatives and/or make their operations more efficient. These integration efforts often stumble, fall, or don't even get started because the tenets of mainframe integration are misunderstood. This in turn leads to sub-standard results, often accompanied by increased costs.

The mainframe integration problem can be broken down into its basic parts, which will help enterprises build up a simplified, successful strategy that will save money. We have discovered five ways that will ensure success with integration projects and -- perhaps more importantly -- reduce costs while delivering better results.

The mainframe integration battlefield primarily consists of two distinct sides -- the mainframe systems we've depended on for years and years, and the new applications, initiatives, and delivery channels.

Our tried and true mainframe applications were built in technologies like CICS, IMS, IDEAL, VSAM or even applications like Hogan. And then came the new world, with mobile and web applications, or business applications from companies like SAP or Oracle. How the two integrate or interact can be the difference between success and failure.

When one of these new systems needs to access functionality from the mainframe we can think of it as a question-and-answer session. For example, perhaps a mobile banking application needs to ask a question like, "provide me all the account balances and recent transactions for a customer." And now it's up to our existing mainframe applications to answer that question.

The problem is that the question typically cannot be easily answered, as the mainframe systems could never have anticipated the question in the first place. So, they simply aren't prepared to answer it, and therefore, we have a mismatch.

Integration is all about solving that mismatch.

How do we get the mainframe systems to receive and understand our question, and provide an appropriate answer to resolve this mismatch?

The standard answer to this question today is Web services, which unarguably provide a great, commonly accepted way for things to connect. The key word is connect. Because at their core, just saying "Web services" is only stating we have a standard way to receive the question and offer an answer. But Web services on their own say nothing about the ability to understand the question, and certainly nothing about providing an appropriate answer.


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