GT Software: Servicizing for Green Screens

GT Software, a provider of mainframe modernization tools, has upgraded its Ivory Service Architect to enable batch systems to leverage CICS, IMS, and Web services. Ivory Service Architect version 3.3 is an integrated toolset that lets devs rapidly assemble Web services from mainframe assets, and quick let mainframe apps consume external Web services. IDN speaks with a GT exec about the new tools.

Tags: Ivory Service Architect, Mainframe, Web Services, Batch, CICS, Batch Systems, Applications,


GT Software, a provider of mainframe modernization tools, has upgraded its Ivory Service Architect to enable batch systems to leverage CICS, IMS, and Web services. Ivory Service Architect version 3.3 is an integrated toolset that lets devs rapidly assemble Web services from mainframe assets, and quick let mainframe apps consume external Web services. IDN speaks with a GT exec about the new tools.

Notably, devs can use Ivory Service Architect to quickly and easily assemble and publish Web services, developing right-sized composite services from existing mainframe assets with little or no training or consulting.

GT Software's latest solution also provides a high-performance runtime engine for executing those deployed services within CICS, zOS, or Windows-based environments. Services can be composed using of any combination of CICS, IMS, mainframe data, as well as external Web services.

The upgrades mean Ivory can now be used by batch systems with very low overhead and high throughput, says Rob Morris, VP of Marketing and Strategy at GT Software. "Without this capability, organizations risk compromising their 'batch window,' which is the fixed amount of time each day that batch systems process critical transactions," he says.

IDN speaks with Morris about the technology and customer impact of the latest upgrade.

Integration Developer News interview with
Rob Morris, Vice President - Marketing and Strategy
GT Software


TOPIC: Scope of Ivory Tools
IDN: Who is this tool designed for, and what skills do IT staff need to best use this tool?

Morris: Ivory Service Architect is very unique in that it can easily be used by the platform owner, that is mainframe developers, to quickly assemble services from virtually any mainframe asset. The product was built specifically to handle the problem of assembling mainframe-based services, and as such, is extremely intuitive and cost effective.

A big piece of this simplicity is the fact that Ivory Service Architect requires no code to be written, and no code is generated. This greatly simplifies the development, deployment, and management processes, without giving up any flexibility or power.

One of the things we've experienced with Ivory customers is that mainframe developers require no formal training to effectively utilize Ivory Service Architect. We believe this is unique in this market.

TOPIC: Servicing Mainframe Assets
IDN: Does your toolset "servicize" my mainframe assets?

Morris: Ivory Service Architect provides the ability to rapidly assemble services from any combination of CICS COMMAREA transactions, 3270-based applications, IMS-based applications, any mainframe data store, and external Web services.

Ivory Service Architect supports both a bottom-up and top-down style of service creation, so mainframe services can easily be defined by the consumer, and implemented directly by the platform owner - the mainframe developer.

Additionally, any Ivory-based service can be deployed as both a Web service and/or a COMMAREA-based mainframe service. Ivory Service Architect also enables mainframe applications, including batch, to call external Web services with incredible response times and low overhead.

TOPIC: Use Case
IDN: Can you cite a Use Case where your tool solved an important Business Case?

Morris: One of the more interesting business cases are customers in the insurance and financial services markets that are leveraging Ivory's ability to enable their mission critical batch applications to efficiently call Web services. This is really important as batch is still the workhorse for many corporations. As Web services proliferate in the market, these batch systems need to speak with them, without compromising the limitations of their batch window - that is the fixed amount of time that these applications do their work.

For example, auto insurance companies may need to verify VIN numbers as they process auto claims. This verification is typically available through a third party, and more and more is offered as a Web service. The problem is that calling a Web service can takes time, and they may only have a three-hour window to process thousands of claims.

With Ivory, we have developed an extremely fast mechanism to directly call these Web services from batch with minimal overhead, and high throughout. This is enabling our customers to continue to their batch processing virtually unchanged while keeping up with the proliferation of Web services in their markets.

Other business examples include integration with rating engines and new CRM applications and initiatives to improve user productivity and reduce costs.

TOPIC: How GT's Ivory Tools Work
IDN: I noted your tool has been accepted into the IBM SOA Specialty program. How does your tool work under the covers?

Morris: There are two pieces to Ivory Service Architect - the Ivory Studio and the Ivory Server.

The Ivory Studio is a tool to graphically model or assemble mainframe assets, like a CICS transaction or an IMS transaction, into a service. Ivory Service Architect requires absolutely no changes or intrusiveness to leverage an asset, just access to the assets interface definition - like a copybook, or BMS map. For deployment, the Ivory Studio generates a definition of the service, not code that is utilized by the Ivory Server at runtime.

The Ivory Server is the runtime orchestration engine that executes the requested mainframe-based service. It has the ability to run natively on the mainframe in CICS, as a started task, or even linked directly into a batch application. The Ivory Server can also run off the mainframe in Windows, and --soon to be released-- Linux. The great part is that any Ivory service can run seamlessly on any Ivory Server without modification.

TOPIC: Fitting in with Legacy Queues
IDN: What is GT's view on how you integrate new SOA services with enterprise queuing architectures (such as MQSeries and JMS solutions) which ensure delivery integrity - delivered once, and not duplicated (only once).

Morris: We support MQ as an alternative transport protocol to HTTP or straight TCP/IP. Though as it relates to calling web services, http is the preferred approach, as speed is the name of the game. Basically -- if someone wants MQ -- we do MQ - no problem

TOPIC: Fitting In with New Services Infrastructure
IDN: How does Ivory Services Architect work with other infrastructure upgrades, such as ESB and SOA Registries and/or Repositories?

Morris: Ivory Service Architect works seamlessly with other components and technologies of an SOA infrastructure as Ivory produces and leverages standard-based Web services. Ivory Service Architect has built-in functionality to register Ivory-based services in UDDI-based registries and repositories or Web service management technologies.

Additionally, Ivory Service Architect supports a top-down service design paradigm and, as such, Ivory accepts WSDLs defined by almost any tool or application. To handle this requirement, Ivory supports a broad range of XML data type definitions including the XML, ACORD, and HR-XML specs.

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Rob Morris is Senior Vice President of Marketing and Strategy, responsible for the planning, integration, and marketing of GT Software product solutions to the global market. He has expertise in midrange and mainframe systems. Prior to GT Software, Mr. Morris held positions at KnowledgeWare, Forté Software, ClientSoft (now NEON systems) and Jacada.



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