Making the Most of IMS to Deliver Business Innovation

Businesses are being challenged to change the way they operate, including the need for faster service delivery and access to apps and services on multiple platforms or devices. In a recent SHARE presentation, IBM Distinguished Engineer and IMS Chief Architect Betty Patterson Bucci explored that challenge and provided some perspective for how the mainframe – and IMS in particular – can support the drive for business growth and innovation. 

As she explained, many businesses are surprised at the speed and nature of the change they’re facing. A 2017 KPMG survey of nearly 5,000 CIOs found that 64 percent believe that the political, business, and economic environments are becoming more unpredictable, and few feel comfortable that their organization is ready to handle the impacts of that change. 

For example, many CIOs acknowledged a lack of a concrete enterprise-wide digital strategy in their company, and 34 percent said they don’t have the requisite skills in enterprise architecture needed to face all of that change. 

The mainframe is well suited to support future growth and innovation, Betty said, because it’s a system that has undergone a relentless series of hardware and software improvements. All of that innovation has added up to a system that’s tailored for digital transformation – 91 percent of CIOs surveyed by Compuware said their organization has deployed customer-facing apps that access the corporate mainframes. 

“The leaders in this area recognize the more you use the mainframe, the more it becomes revenue-generating versus just a cost center,” she said. “We need to innovate on the mainframe to support that.” 

IMS, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, continues to be modernized to support the type of use cases that businesses demand in the digital economy. At the same time, tools like IBM Data Virtualization Manager are helping businesses make the most of their IMS environment. 

IMS 14 on z14 represents an important step forward for the platform, Betty said. New capabilities were introduced with an eye toward enabling future innovation. Pervasive encryption, for example, protects IMS data with minimal impact on CPU overhead and SLAs. Data-in-place analytics on IMS operational data reduces the cost of generating insights from IMS. Open access to IMS data and transactions allows businesses to connect IMS data to the cloud. Standard interfaces also make it easier for newer talent to work with IMS. IMS 15 will build on that momentum. 

With help from IBM Data Virtualization Manager, businesses are putting the new releases of IMS to good use. Betty shared an example of a North American insurance firm that wanted to reduce the time it takes for its customers to originate an insurance policy online. By using IBM Data Virtualization Manager to simplify access to actuarial data in IMS databases, the firm’s developers were able to incorporate risk calculation and cost estimates in its online origination service. As a result, online policy origination went from taking three days to just 200 milliseconds. 

Betty also shared the example of a North American lender that needed to process student loan requests. The lender’s slow loan processing created regulatory compliance issues. 

“They had 7 million IMS records, and the data wasn’t clean,” Betty said. “So they were loading this data and doing ETL on it to clean up the data, but it took 12 hours.” 

To resolve the problem, the lender opted to use IBM Data Virtualization Manager to access IMS data in-place, which eliminated large batch processing, with 93 percent of processing running on zIIP engines. The result was that data loading went from 12 hours to 13 minutes, which sped up request processing and ultimately meant that students applying for loans could find out much more quickly whether they were approved.

Those are just two examples of how the mainframe truly enables digital transformation: taking a customer need, using modern tools to access critical mainframe-based data, and engineering a solution that leads to a faster way of delivering service, earning revenue, and ultimately, satisfying customers. It’s a blueprint for other organizations to follow as they figure out how to take their most important existing IT asset — the mainframe — and leverage it for future growth. 

Check out the SHARE Content Center for more articles, webcasts and presentations touching on important issues in mainframe, including technology, training and industry trends.

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