CA enhances support for legacy databases

With all the hype surrounding relational databases like Microsoft's SQL Server and IBM's DB2, it's easy to forget that legacy hierarchical databases such as Big Blue's IMS still have a significant install base, especially in the financial sector.

However, there are still companies out there supporting IMS, and one of these is Computer Associates International (CA). On Tuesday, CA unveiled enhancements to its three new suites for an IMS database running on z/OS, the operating system for IBM's zSeries 900 line of mainframes, which supports a 64-bit architecture as well as Java- and Web-based applications.

These suites fall under the umbrella of CA's Unicenter Database Management Solutions v5.1 and include the Unicenter Database Performance Management Suite 5.1, the Unicenter Database Administration Suite 5.1 and the Unicenter Database Backup and Recovery Suite 5.1.

The Unicenter Database Management Solution enables a user to centrally manage numerous types of databases from one console including IBM's IMS, IBM's DB2 on zSeries, Linux or Unix as well as Microsoft's SQL Server and an Oracle database. Customers can choose from FastPath support, which provides the basic tools to manage these databases or the Expanded FastPath support, which tacks on online reorganization and integrity verification of their databases plus extended back-up and recovery services and support.

The Durham Solutions Centre of EDS Canada currently runs the Database Performance Management Suite 4.3, which was released in July 2002. Additionally, the center has been beta testing new features of the Unicenter Database Analyzer, which is part of the Database Performance Management Suite 5.1, on and off since December 2003.

John Manning, information specialist at the Durham Solutions Centre, which has numerous IMS FastPath databases, said with Database Anaylzer's new features it is easier to load or unload data from the IMS databases. He added that it is faster than the previous version.

He said IBM also makes a similar product but EDS has a deal with CA and uses CA software when possible. Additionally, he said the Database Analyzer is cheaper than both IBM's solutions and those of BMC Software, another player in this market.

Also, he said moving from a hierarchical database like IMS to a relational database has been something EDS has been examining.

"I think there are some compelling reasons to move and there are also some compelling reasons not to, mainly because of the investment in the old technology," Manning said. "There are some things that are unadvisable to do unless you have a clear path, and not (worth) just doing for the sake of doing it."

While relational databases can retrieve data faster, Manning said IMS is still definitely a viable system. Continuing on the line of hierarchical databases, CA has also released a new version of another legacy database, the Advantage CA-IDMS release 15 (r15), which runs on IBM's zSeries mainframes. Steve Lemme, director, product marketing, Unicenter Database Management at CA in Islandia, N.Y. said the IDMS database is now Web-enabled and has a graphical user interface (GUI).

Additionally, Lemme said CA is increasing support for Oracle's database, unveiling the CA Productivity Pack for Oracle, which provides a common console for administrators to create, test, deploy, administer and maintain applications built for Oracle databases, Lemme said.

"Now a customer can design a database-driven application and seamlessly flow through the lifecycle of design, testing, deployment, administration and performance management all within a single offering," Lemme said.

The Productivity Pack includes CA's AllFusion ERwin Data Modeler, a tool for designing and deploying database applications and the Unicenter Enterprise DBA, a database administration tool, which streamlines and automates tasks ranging from a simple create to complex compare-and-synchronize operations. Also part of the Pack is the Unicenter Fast Unload, which aids in extracting database information, and the Unicenter Database Performance Management, which automates the evaluation of database performance. Additionally, the Unicenter SQL-Station lets uses create, edit and test SQL, PL/SQL, Java and server-side database code and the Unicenter TSreorg restructures objects that have become fragmented by heavy usage.

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