by Peter M. Horbach

Old and new – reaching the goal together

Anyone, who has been employed and responsible in IT for a long time, knows the challenges that arise at ever shorter intervals: new technologies in hardware and software, new ways of thinking and trends. It is not easy for the IT manager to keep up with the constant innovations and always keep an eye on the costs. Recognizing the challenges without reacting is not possible. This can have major disadvantages for the company. On the other hand, it is also difficult and sometimes not feasible to always set up the latest IT environment. Probably the better way is to modernize the existing landscape to adapt it to the new requirements.

This applies in particular to an IT, whose heart is a mainframe and which has already proven itself over decades. There have been many statements in the past that the mainframe is old and backward, even antiquated. Even its´ death was predicted. However, the mainframe is still considered by many companies, both national and multinational, to be the most reliable and secure IT solution.

It is important to understand, that the transition to a digital world is not exclusively dependent on a single system or one platform. Center and most important component is the company´s data and how to deal with it.

At the end of the last century and the beginning of this century, open systems increasingly took center stage.  Well-known software companies around the world converted their solutions to the new platforms. The challenge of mainframe IT lay in making the mainframe data available on these new platforms, so that they could be processed and evaluated there according to different requirements. The technical term for this processing quickly has been found:

ETL - Extract, Transfer, Load

This is a procedure, that was carried out by many companies with on-board tools (own extraction programs, file transfer and special database utilities to load the data). The problem with this approach is obvious: the data are not up-to-date. Especially if such an ETL process only was carried out once a day or week. Data, even hours or minutes old, does not represent the current state of an organization. This can lead to disadvantages when making critical decisions and therefore to misjudgments. The bottom line is that companies should move away from ETL processes and look for new ways to make analysis of mainframe real-time data more efficient and faster.

Mainframe modernization is the way.

Already at the end of the 1990s B.O.S. provided a solution with tcACCESS to remedy this flaw. From Windows, Unix and Linux platforms, it was possible to access mainframe files in real time using SQL syntax from applications or standard systems without having mainframe knowledge.

However, the digitization of IT continues. We have described this in some of the previously created blogs: Cloud Technologies, BigData, Data Lakes and Data Hubs. For all companies whose mainframe is the center of IT, the task is to integrate the mainframe into these new landscapes and technologies.

The proven "old" and the modern "new" must be combined with the aim of making real-time data analysis from the mainframe faster and more efficient for the company.

However, conventional methods of carrying out this project are reaching their limits: not compatible data and record formats, but historically grown structures stand in the way of digital transformation.

This is where the tried-and-tested tcVISION solution comes into focus. tcVISION is used worldwide by companies that have taken this crucial path and implemented it successfully.

tcVISION carries out continuous data replication in real time, based on change data. Always with the aim of keeping CPU consumption on the mainframe to a minimum or eliminating it completely. This is achieved by extracting only changed data from the mainframe (VSAM, IMS/DLI, ADABAS, IDMS, Datacom), transforming and propagating the data to the target system in a single step (single-step operation) . The processing of mass data from the mainframe environment, which is available in backup and recovery formats, can also take place outside the mainframe on open systems.

With the modern and intelligent graphic interface of tcVISION, real-time replications can be implemented in the shortest possible time.

It is important to point out that bi-directional real-time replication is also supported. This is particularly important if data is available on the mainframe as well as on other systems with equal priority and always needs to have the same status. tcVISION's loopback technology prevents changes from replication that have already been made in the original system and being recognized in the target system by the capture process of tcVISION. The tcVISION customer can decide and specify, that these changes can also be recorded due to special requirements (e.g. audit requirements).

Mainframe modernization with tcVISION is the key to ensure, that the proven "Old" can work with modern “New”solutions. This ensures the goal for business intelligence and analytics, to integrate all the different data of the company in one logical data view.

tcVISION is ideally suited for connecting the traditional mainframe (regardless of whether the operating system is called z/OS or z/VSE) with modern platforms (Linux, Unix Windows) as well as the latest technologies of Cloud and BigData systems

An overview of all supported input and output destinations can be found here.

Peter M. Horbach has been active in the area of data synchronization and replication with more than 40 years of IT experience. He manages the international partner business for BOS Software and writes for our blog.

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