Hunt spelled out how to use Web services to access mainframe (IMS and CICS) transactions and extend them out to the enterprise at large (“J2EE and .NET, or other enterprise applications”), with no changes to host applications.
“What we are speaking about,” Hunt says, “is extending host transactions to off-host applications, whether those are Java-based applications, C++, or other legacy-type applications that simply aren't running on the mainframe.
“We're talking about using Web Services' program-to-program connections; with Web Services being SOAP or XML for the message format; as well as using different transports, not necessarily just HTTP, but MQ or IIOP, as the way of moving those messages to and from the host.
“The goal,” Hunt continued, “is to access those critical business processes and that data from anywhere in the enterprise. And this is where Web services really give us a leg up. New applications need to be able to incorporate host-based business processes, and by doing so, increase your business's agility, while realizing significant return on the investment that you've made in your mainframe and your mainframe business processes.”
The way to do all that, Hunt asserted, is via IONA’s Artix family of products, particularly Artix Mainframe which, he says, “securely extends IMS and CICS transactions to the enterprise as Web services.
“There are many products on the market that enable in some form the ability to access CICS and IMS transactions. But there are in fact very few products on the market that enable CICS and IMS transactions as fully standard Web services.”
“What Artix Mainframe does,” Hunt explained, “is transparently manage the data conversions between XML and the native IMS and CICS formats. And it does this without touching the applications directly. It does not disrupt any of the ongoing operation, but manages this translation so that, from the IMS or CICS subsystem's point of view, it's simply being invoked the way it's always been invoked.
“Artix Mainframe runs on the host as a single task, which enables system administrators to maintain control over the process. In other words, we're not running off-host, where loads cannot be anticipated, where the process cannot be monitored. We're running on the host, as part of the mainframe environment, and the system administrator has full authority over the process and how it's operating.”
In addition, “Performance is generally not just an option in any environment, and when we're talking about driving transactions and some of the high-volume back-end transactions that CICS and IMS support, Artix Mainframe delivers that performance.
“We also authenticate off those clients using native host-based security and access control. So no unauthorized operations, no unauthorized users, have access to these sometimes sensitive business processes.”
Hunt went into what Artix Mainframe doesn’t do.
“(It) does not ask that you change your production application, that you buy or license new and (usually) optional subsystems that require additional licenses, additional configurations. We also do not require any form of mainframe Java, so we're not asking you to put a Java or J2EE application server on your host, and we don't require one off-host. We do not ask you to use Java in any flavor or fashion. Those are some of the ways in which Artix Mainframe sets itself apart from some of the other solutions that are on the market for extending CICS and IMS transactions to the enterprise.”
“The whole point of all this is to bring business agility,” Hunt emphasized, “by enabling you to reuse existing mainframe-hosted transactions and bring those proven processes out to off-host transactions so they can very quickly be incorporated into new business processes.”
Hunt served up a real-life example of a company that deployed Artix in roughly four hours.
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