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Picking an IMS Transaction Integration Solution Depends on Your Infrastructure and Needs


Many organizations need to integrate their IMS transactions and assets into their IT infrastructure to address complex business requirements. First, you might ask, what are the available solutions? And, how do you choose one that works for you?

To answer these questions, you must examine the major data protocols and the primary usage they are most suited for. Then, consider related IBM servers or products based on different integration needs and the solutions’ supported data flow.

Choosing an integration solution depends on your existing infrastructure and integration needs. Table 1 describes the common data protocols involved and the integration needs they are most suited for.

Table 1: IMS Transaction Integration Solutions by Data Protocol

Data protocol Description Integration needs
Java EE Connector Architecture (JCA) A Java-based technology solution for connecting application servers and enterprise information systems (EIS), with a standard set of system-level contracts between the Java EE application server and a resource adapter that manage the connection, transactions, security, work, life cycle, transaction inflow and message inflow.
  • You have an existing Java EE server or one of the IBM servers that needs access to IMS.
  • Primary use is direct synchronous IMS access.
Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) A protocol that allows heterogeneous applications to discover and communicate with each other in a platform- and language-independent way.
  • You need to interact with partners or applications that require the SOAP protocol.
  • Primary use is synchronous IMS access.
Representational State Transfer (REST) A protocol for simple Web services and efficient exchanges of data through stateless applications, used in conjunction with JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), a lightweight data-interchange format. JSON and REST are often used in mobile applications, mashup tools or automated business processes. You need mobile solutions.
Java Message Services (JMS) An asynchronous-based messaging interface for exchanging of data between computers using messaging services in support of Java programs.
  • You have existing Java applications.
  • You are using a Java EE/JMS-based application server.
  • Primary use is asynchronous IMS access.
Roll-your-own (RYO) An approach often used when the organization already has its own implementations of solutions that handle the transactions, security and message flow. You have an existing in-house server that needs a simple API to connect to IMS.

IBM Servers for Integration

Many IBM application servers already provide built-in support for IMS transaction access. Figure 1 shows the available solutions by primary integration needs.

If you have an existing Java EE server or one of the IBM servers, such as IBM WebSphere Application Server (WAS), that needs Web service or non-Web service access to IMS, the Java EE Connector Architecture (JCA) with the IMS Transaction Manager (TM) resource adapter is the best option for direct access to (inbound) or from (outbound) IMS. This option offers full quality of service (QoS).

If you’re required to interact with partners or applications in a platform-independent and loosely coupled fashion by using the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), IMS Enterprise Suite SOAP Gateway is the best option for direct SOAP access to IMS. SOAP Gateway supports both inbound to and outbound from IMS. It’s a no-cost, lightweight server that does not support the Representational State Transfer (REST) protocol.

If you have needs for large-scale Web service integration and mobile applications, WebSphere DataPower is the ubiquitous network gateway that provides fast and secure Web services and XML transformation. With the release of firmware version 6.0, it now supports both inbound requests to and outbound requests from IMS.

If Enterprise Service Bus is your choice of technology, then IBM Integration Bus (IBM IB), formerly known as WebSphere Message Broker, supports the best interoperability among heterogeneous services and data.

If your key integration need is business process automation and choreography, then IBM Business Process Manager (BPM) supports inbound access to IMS transactions.

If you need complex data transformation, use WebSphere Transformation Extender (WTX) for access to IMS transactions.

For business rules, IBM Operational Decision Manager (IBM ODM) already supports integration with IMS.

Besides the above solutions, if you have an existing in-house server that needs a simple API to access IMS, you can use a high-level API, such as the IMS Enterprise Suite Connect APIs or WebSphere MQ APIs, which offers the flexibility to integrate with your existing application interfaces.

If you have an existing Java EE server or one of the IBM servers that needs Web services or Java access to IMS, and you need a middleware to guarantee message delivery with full message recovery capability, then JMS with WebSphere MQ is the best integration option.

IBM Integration Solutions by Data Flow

A key decision point in selecting a solution is the anticipated data flow—whether IMS transactions are the target or the source of the data. Figure 2 shows the common solutions for accessing IMS transactions from external Web services or non-Web service clients for each of the data protocols or approaches. Generic Java EE servers are added to the diagram since the IMS TM resource adapter can be deployed in these servers as a resource adapter. Note that:

  • IMS Connect is the high-performance, high-throughput strategic TCP/IP gateway to IMS that most of the solutions require.
  • WebSphere Optimized Local Adapter (WOLA) offers Java EE clients direct access IMS through the WOLA APIs. IMS applications can also call out to external Java clients through the WOLA APIs. WOLA must be on the same LPAR as IMS.
  • If you have an existing in-house server that needs a simple API to access IMS, you can use the IMS Enterprise Suite Connect APIs to specify and configure connections and interactions with IMS Connect.

What is not shown in Figure 2 is that with the Java Message Services (JMS) protocol, the messages going through an IBM server can be routed through WebSphere MQ IMS Bridge, a client to Open Transaction Manager Access (OTMA).

Haley Fung is a senior software engineer and the current SOA technical and development lead in IMS. Fung has more than 13 years of experience in developing solutions for SOA, modernization, enterprise application integration and connectivity for IMS.

Jenny Hung is an advisory software engineer working on IBM IMS OnDemand to modernize IMS as the integration focal point in SOA environments.

Shyh-Mei Ho is an IBM Distinguished Engineer and the IMS service oriented architecture, modernization and integration chief architect.

Yee-Rong Lai is a key information developer for the IMS SOA solution suite at the IBM Silicon Valley lab.


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