Year 2000 fix unlocks trove of mainframe data

For two large organisations, a year 2000 migration is unlocking vast amounts of legacy mainframe data to make it available over the Web.

Travel reservation company The Sabre Group Holdings in Fort Worth, Texas, had been using IBM's Report Management and Distribution System (RMDS) to manage up to 30,000 reports generated every day by several mainframe applications.

The reports include budgets, travel information and cargo lists. Some are stored on mainframe hard drives, others on tape, and some today can be accessed only from microfiche. Users have accessed them from 3270 terminals or PCs running terminal emulation software.

But the RMDS version the company was using wasn't Y2K-compliant, said Harry Fields, senior engineer at Sabre. And although IBM offered a Y2K-compliant product, it would have required a complicated upgrade. So Sabre opted for Electronic Document Warehouse from Rye, New York-based Mobius Management Systems. The software is priced from $US10,000 for a Windows NT version to several million dollars for some mainframe configurations.

Sabre's 200,000 users, who are mainly travel agents, will be able to access some 500,000 reports using terminal emulation, a Windows-based client or, by early next year, a browser.

Barry Bell, systems programming manager at Information Technology Services (ITS) in Raleigh, North Carolina, which provides information technology services to the state of North Carolina, tells a similar story. The state is moving off RMDS for year 2000 reasons and in the next 60 to 90 days will bring online a new document management system that will allow 70,000 state employees and suppliers to access mainframe-generated doc- uments through their browsers, Bell said.

ITS started replacing RMDS last August and since March has been implementing X/ PTR 3.8 from Dallas-based Systemware. The software runs on IBM mainframes and is priced from $50,000.

Many financial, insurance, utilities and telecommunications customers use report management software for their legacy applications, said Andrew Warzecha, an analyst at Meta Group in Stamford, Connecticut. The Web capabilities included in the latest versions of those applications allow customers to put the information to new uses, such as online bill presentment, Warzecha said.

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