IBM on Wednesday announced it will offer a CICS (Customer Information Control System) SOAP Technology Preview designed to help developers build connections to its venerable CICS-based mainframe applications through Web services.
The new technology, to be available by the end of this month free of charge on IBM's alphaWorks Web site that, provides SOAP enablement of existing CICS Cobol applications, permitting them to be invoked through SOAP requests over either HTTP or WebSphere MQ messages and then integrated both inside and outside of the enterprise.
"This means you can invoke Cobol and PL/1 programs via SOAP messages without the need for an intermediary. You can open up all this enterprise data and communicate with these applications in a way you could not before," said Bob Sutor, IBM's director of Web services technology.
IBM sees the technology as an essential step toward validating Web services as a fundamental technology corporate users need to make their legacy applications reach out and fully interact with more modern technologies both inside and outside their companies.
"If people are truly going to take Web services seriously as an enterprise technology, then they have to have meaningful access to their enterprise and legacy applications and data. And when you think of Web services as useful for business, we have to take these types [CICS] of environments into account,'' Sutor said.
This bridging of old and new technologies is also key for users hoping to gravitate toward an on-demand computing environment that better allows corporate users to respond and adapt immediately to changes whether they are internal or external, company officials said.
IBM will eventually build the new technology into the core of its CICS products, but only after it has been available to a wide range of developers who are expected to offer significant feedback on it in terms of technical improvements, company officials said.
In a somewhat related announcement on Tuesday, IBM said it plans to incorporate the choreography functions from its WebSphere Application Server Enterprise Edition into its WebSphere Studio Enterprise Developer toolkit sometime during the second quarter.
"By extending those tolls to include choreography functions, users can design business processes and address transactions so they include Web services," Sutor said,
CICS is a mainframe-level transaction monitoring system that has had a presence in corporate accounts for 35 years and still very much vital to many of those companies. IBM officials estimate that in the neighborhood of $1 trillion worth of transactions move across CICS-based mainframes every day.