IBM Enhancing Mainframes for Enterprise Apps

SAN MATEO (03/02/2000) - IBM Corp. has delivered a version of its OS/390 operating system that, along with new hardware-based security capabilities, is intended to strengthen mainframes for deployment of enterprise applications such as e-commerce and customer relationship management,The updated operating system, called OS/390 Version 2.9, includes the Websphere Application Server, which now supports JavaServer Pages and Servlets, as well as Websphere Studio Tooling, for VisualAge for Java tooling support. For users, this means that applications they develop that ascribe to these standards can be used on any platform, reportedly making it easier to build cross platform e-business applications.

IBM also has added a Languages Environment and OS/390 Unix Systems Services, making the porting of C and C++ applications less time consuming. The new environment supports printf and scanf formatting of 64-bit integers. These enhancements make it easier for users to port Unix applications to IBM's S/390.

Also in Version 2.9 are built-in connections that allow users to access data contained in IBM's DB2 database through the JDBC (Java Database Connectivity) standard.

"With the release we are trying to give users a faster track to the Web by giving them the tools to integrate their existing applications and systems," said Mark Shearer, vice president of marketing for IBM's Enterprise Server group.

Users with front-of-mind concerns about better tying legacy applications and data to e-business applications welcomed the enhancements.

"The added support Java support for WebSphere along with the C++ support eliminates one more how-do-we-get-there-from-here concern about extending some of our more important host applications to other platforms and the Web," said Josh McCabe, a network engineer with a large Chicago-based financial services company.

Release 9 also features beefed-up file and print-server support for Windows workstations, which better enables networking compatibility on the OS/390 server. Consequently, administrators can now give users access to high-speed OS/390 attached printers. And by adding the Server Message Block protocol, that high-speed access is enabled without needing to manage multiple software programs located on individual desktop PCs.

Trying to assist administrators better diagnose a variety of systems issues related to Unix applications, IBM has enhanced the operating system's HFS (hierarchical file system) with new support to capture standard error messages in an HFS file in a Unix environment.

As part of this week's announcement, Siebel Systems said it will make a version its family of e-business software that enables multi-channel sales, marketing and customer service systems over the Web available by the end of this year.

Release 9 features a text search engine capable of recognizing the most recent XML document model, which provides for better support of e-business applications. The new engine is able to process documents in Unicode UTF-8 or UCS-2 formats, company executives said.

Security features include support for the PCI Cryptographic Coprocessor, which is an optional feature in the S/390 G5 and G6 Enterprise Servers that supplements the systems' basic cryptographic caabilities with additional functions and better performance.

For more information about the new operating system users can contact www.s390.ibm.com.

IBM Corp., in Armonk, N.Y., is at http://www.ibm.com.

Ed Scannell is an InfoWorld editor at large.

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