CICS-to-XML Software Simplifies Dev Process

Web services can be a tangled web indeed when developers are responsible for building them with legacy data. But move over mainframe experts, a new solution eases the process for users working within any dev environment.

NetManage on Monday expanded its OnWeb software. The product now readies CICS (Customer Information Control System) data for standard XML, enabling developers to deploy the data for integration and service-oriented architecture (SOA) projects. And OnWeb runs natively on the mainframe, supports large-scale enterprises, and abolishes the need for code re-writing–all features that expedite the development of Web services.

“Mainframes store 80 percent of a company’s mission-critical corporate data. Now, companies are finding real value in providing access to this data to partner and end-users in new formats, including Web services,” said Archie Roboostoff, senior product manager, NetManage. “Consequently, one main challenge developers face today is accessing and integrating these significant quantities of legacy data with modern technologies.”

But Roboostoff says OnWeb’s beauty is that it requires very little homework from developers. Java and .NET developers need not be well-versed in mainframe environments. The software exposes legacy code with XML–a process that does not require changes to the back-end biz logic or extraneous legacy code knowledge. OnWeb “intercepts” data, using proprietary technology to complete the XML conversion.

“Exposing mainframe transactions via XML preserves the business logic of the CICS applications and provides an industry-standard means of exchanging data between CICS and any other XML-enabled applications, meaning the developer can access the data directly within the context of his own application environment,” Roboostoff says.

OnWeb–which supports 75 different back-end systems–enables users to develop Web services without screen scraping. By connecting legacy systems without this step, Roboostoff says a Web service can be created in a matter of minutes. Developers can build XML docs from BMS, 3270 transactions and COMMAREA programs without changing apps, and they can access VSAM, DB2 and DL/I data sources in XML docs.

NetManage also offers a series of OnWeb dev tools that support .NET and Java 2 Enterprise Edition frameworks. OnWeb Object Builder lets developers recycle pieces of encapsulated biz logic without altering the underlying system. The tool manages interactions with the back-end system. And the company’s OnWeb Designer allows developers to automate screen navigation sequences and combine data from different host systems or back-end apps. The tool also lets users access re-faced host apps through browsers, PDAs, or mobile devices (from a single app) without extra coding.

CICS, a group of transaction servers that typically run on IBM mainframe systems, is a popular way for enterprises to provide online transactional processing and manage biz apps. And for those enterprises with SOA in mind, OnWeb for CICS offers a variety of Web-enablement platforms that let developers transform differing systems and apps into interoperable, external-facing biz apps.

According to Roboostoff, NetManage has 400 OnWeb customers on board, including 65 percent of the world’s top banks. The expanded OnWeb for CICS is available now.

About the Author

Jason Turcotte is an assistant editor at Application Development Trends. He can be reached at [email protected].