First Look: Tying Together Mainframe Applications and SOA

OnWeb for Customer Information Control System transforms CICS data into standards-based XML for integration and SOA initiatives.

One of the most difficult development activities for an enterprise is to take legacy mainframe code and turn it into a collection of services for use in a service-oriented architecture (SOA). It turns out that there is more to the process than taking chunks of Cobol code and putting a Web service front-end on them.

In response, NetManage ( has introduced NetManage OnWeb for Customer Information Control System (CICS), a software solution that transforms existing CICS data into standard XML for integration with other enterprise information systems or SOA initiatives.

The new offering runs natively on the mainframe, providing scalable and secure support for large enterprises looking to extend their CICS applications to new business users, such as partners and customers, while eliminating the expense of multiple proxy servers and host application reengineering. OnWeb for CICS complements NetManage's portfolio of integration solutions that can be used individually or combined to enable companies to simply and cost-effectively leverage years of business logic without any change to the host system.

"Today, companies understand the value to partners and customers of modernizing fundamental legacy applications like CICS to include Web services and support SOA," said Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst at ZapThink. "Enterprises are now looking for tactical ways to update their systems, and NetManage OnWeb for CICS provides a simple, standards-based way to integrate legacy data into a SOA implementation, enabling companies to extract the most value from prior investments in mission-critical mainframe systems."

CICS, a family of transaction servers that run primarily on IBM mainframe systems, is one of the most widely used data communications subsystems providing online transaction processing services and management for critical business applications. With NetManage OnWeb for CICS, enterprises can easily XML-enable decades of data stored on the mainframe without "screen scraping." By transforming CICS applications into XML, a standards-based way to perform data exchange, enterprises simplify communications between legacy systems and current software to directly access business logic and transactions, and publish them as Web services. NetManage OnWeb for CICS runs entirely on the mainframe without any change to the host system, combining Web application development with the scalability and high-performance of the mainframe.

"Screen scraping technology provides fast, inexpensive integration but may not be an optimal solution for all projects. Many companies need a combination of both tightly coupled and loosely coupled transactions to optimize their heterogeneous IT environment," said Zvi Alon, chairman, president and CEO at NetManage, Inc. "OnWeb for CICS adds a powerful CICS modernization solution to NetManage's family of products, further establishing our ability to provide the most comprehensive set of solutions for any enterprise integration project."

The OnWeb family of products provides a range of deployment options, including multiple types of thin client and zero-footprint client access, and the ability to convert host-based business processes into reusable components, such as Web services, .NET Assemblies, JavaBeans, EJBs, and portlets—which can be integrated with other enterprise applications or used as components in a new application.

About the Author

Peter Varhol is a principal at Technology Strategy Research LLC, an industry analysis and consulting firm.